SAMANTHA CHRISTEN ~ Dock Announcer & Original Competitor
How did you come to get involved with the Hooch?
I actually rowed in the Hooch when it was on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, GA – that’s the original connection. In regards to volunteering, I answered an email blast sent out by Outdoor Chattanooga to all of their volunteers. That particular year (I honestly don’t remember the year) the email specifically requested launch drivers. I had nothing better to do that weekend, and I had enjoyed my own years rowing, so I figured why not?! I signed up to drive a launch.
What inspired you to become a long time Hooch Volunteer?
Weather wise, that first year driving a launch was atrocious. Still, I was hooked. The second year I volunteered, I assumed I’d be driving a launch again. Turned out they needed a last minute fill-in for dock announcer on Saturday morning. Saturday morning turned into all day, and I’ve been dock announcing (and making sure the referees and safety crew have fresh coffee) ever since. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
In your opinion, what are the Hooch’s best qualities?
Of all the events for which I volunteer throughout the year, the Hooch ranks at the top. It is an epically large event to coordinate and run, and opportunities abound for things to go wrong and systems to fail. Yet even when things do go awry, folks still smile and the focus remains – as it should – on the athletes. I have come to truly appreciate and fully respect the humility, grace and support that volunteers, coordinators and athletes extend each other, especially when feathers are ruffled. My location at the Race Operations tent has afforded me many opportunities to witness some impressive – and frequently quiet, unassuming – displays of sportsmanship between opposing teams that just isn’t there in other sports. It is these things, coupled with the overwhelming sense of community, that are unique to the Hooch, and to which I look forward year after year.