Club History

Club History

In 1969 John and Beverly Hiscox founded the Chota Canoe Club was as a whitewater club in Knoxville, Tennessee. The couple would crank out a monthly newsletter in their home on a mimeograph machine and often fed their fellow members breakfast before setting out on paddling journeys.

Despite the name, there are many whitewater decked, and touring kayak boaters in the Chota club. While 
the city of Knoxville is located in the relatively flat Tennessee Valley, it’s surrounded by plenty of whitewater rivers and lakes. 
Even the Ocoee River, site of the 1996 Olympic whitewater slalom, is less than 2 hours’ drive from Knoxville. 
With the Smokey Mountains to the East and South and the Cumberland Plateau to the North and West, there is a a
tremendous variety of whitewater and flatwater, along with touring paddlesport activities.

John is now affectionately called Johnny Canoeseed, as he has also founded clubs in Jackson, Tennessee and Macon, Georgia. There may have only been about 12 charter members, but club membership has risen steadily over the years and we are now more than 240 paddlers strong!

The club name, Chota, comes from the ceremonial capital of the Cherokee nation along the banks of the Little Tennessee River, just downstream of the Citico Creek confluence. We chose the name in support of efforts to prevent flooding of the site by the proposed construction of the Tellico Dam downstream. Unfortunately the controversial dam was completed in 1979 and the site now lies under Tellico Lake. Chota was also the Cherokee word for “peace”.

In the beginning, people paddled whitewater in aluminum canoes, then fiberglass became popular since it slid over rocks more easily and could be patched at home. The first ABS canoe was introduced to the club in 1973, a Blue Hole OCA, #13.

Whitewater canoeing education was a learn-as-you-go process for several years. Our annual Chota Canoe School weekend began in the mid-1970’s, when we also had decked boat rolling sessions in the Westside Y pool. Finding good river segments within day trip distance of Knoxville was also learn-as-you-go, as was finding feasible routes through those rivers, and we were all beginners.

Results were not surprising: lots of cold swims. People survived wearing only wool clothing and ponchos or K-Mart style rain suits for one or several seasons before crashing through and purchasing a diver’s wetsuit, which they then sometimes altered to create more room for shoulder movement and circulation behind the knees. Drysuits and fleece are very recent improvements.

Past Club Presidents

Year President
1970 John Hiscox Club founder
1971 John Hiscox
1972 Bill Krueger
1973 Dick Navarre
1974 Murray Evans
1975 Jim Carter
1976 Hugh Welch
1977 Mike Bates
1978 Mary Evans
1979 Rac Cox
1980 Damaris Olsen
1981 Anne Phillips
1982 Tom Janzen
1983 Ed McAlister
1984 David Mathew
1985 Bill Atkins
1986 Anne Phillips
1987 Jane Harris
1988 Jim Lucas
1989 Janet Michel
1990 Anne Phillips
1991 Doug Johnstone
1992 Dwight Guinn
1993 Pete Dolan
1994 DeWitt Beeler
1995 Gary Kilpatrick
1996 Philip Young
1997 Ron Crass
1998 Stacey Cutshaw
1999 Roger Underwood
2000 David Elliott
2001 Doug Johnstone
2002 Renee Harwell
2003 Renee Harwell
2004 Trey Coleman
2005 Trey Coleman
2006 Doug Klaras
2007 Tisha Benton
2008 David Mann
2009 David Mann
2010 Angela Garrison
2011 Doug Johnstone
2012 Paul Alexander
2013 Pete Feist
2014 Bob Eckhardt
2015 Angela Wood
2016 Angela Wood