Despite growing up 10 miles from the ocean, he wasn’t a beach bum like many people living in beach towns. He stayed away from the water.
He never surfed or went deep-sea fishing or even took the kayak out for a day.
Now, it’s hard to picture Steve Wadsworth out a kayak.
Better known as Coosa River Steve, Wadsworth moved to Eclectic 10 years ago and he can’t imagine anywhere else being home. Now, Wadsworth is one of the most well-known faces in the kayaking community and he found himself a new nickname along the way.
“On Facebook, I was just plain Steve Wadsworth,” Wadsworth said. “I started thinking, I’m out there on the river every weekend, keeping it clean and giving people history on it. I decided to just change it to ‘Coosa River Steve.’ My whole page was going to revolve around kayaking.”
It started as a joke and Wadsworth said he was not sure how long he would leave it up but it caught on quick and now more people know him by his nickname.
“I figured some of my close friends would call it but I’m at the point now where I hear someone holler it and I’ll answer,” Wadsworth said. “That’s what everybody knows me as. Someone mentions my real name and they don’t know who you’re talking about at first. I’ve got a reputation now out there.”
But it wasn’t like kayaking and Wadsworth were natural soulmates. In fact, the first time he was introduced to the boat by Chris Carter at Coosa River Adventures, Wadsworth flipped. Then flipped again. Then flipped about 100 more times.
“But I went back a week later,” Wadsworth said. “Chris eventually put me in a kayak and I bought it that day.”
Since then, kayaking has become more than just a hobby; it’s a self-proclaimed obsession.
“I think about kayaking on a daily basis,” Wadsworth said. “I’m on the water somewhere every week. Over the next month, I’ll probably be on the Coosa three or four times a week.”
Now, Wadsworth is often called upon to help those looking to get into a kayak for the first time. Other people in the community will recommend him and when those newcomers hear “Coosa River Steve,” they know they will be in good hands.
“It’s actually pretty cool,” Wadsworth said. “I just got a message from two people never kayaking and they wanted to know if I could take them down the river. I’ll cruise through the river and show people how to go through the gap and stuff like that. People call me during the week and always want to go out on the river and I just wish that I always could.”
Kayaking can be rewarding on its own but Wadsworth said the best part of his time exploring the Coosa River has been becoming part of the community around the area. Wadsworth said it was not what he expected when he started but that was a big reason why he fell in love with the Coosa.
“I’ve got a lot of great friends out there,” Wadsworth said. “They are a great group and we hang out with each other all the time. Everyone is always there for each other.”
Wadsworth runs into a lot of the regulars at Camp David, a small island on the river between downtown Wetumpka and Lake Jordan. He has been out there several times to just meet up and even have cookouts with whoever else is around.
While his loyalty lies with the local waters, Wadsworth recently started to travel around the state to go down different rivers and he has discovered the community extends well outside the Coosa River.
“I decided I want to kayak every outfitter in the state,” Wadsworth said. “I love the Coosa and never get tired of it but I wanted to venture out and explore other areas. The funny thing is when I go there, people will say they have heard about me.”
Wadsworth wants to find more experiences but he said his favorite will always be on the Coosa River. He may take a familiar path every time but he said every ride is different.
“There are some absolutely beautiful places out there that people don’t get to see every day,” Wadsworth said. “You see new stuff all the time. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been down there but there is always something different. You may never pay attention to it and then you do and it changes the way you look at it.”
Wadsworth has lived in a lot of places. He’s a native of Germany and grew up in Homestead, Florida, but that beauty he gets to see on the Coosa River makes it hard to call any place but Eclectic home.