TJ Holman's SUP story is so much more than just a board and a paddle. From Springfield, Missouri, we kick off our new monthly feature sharing stories like TJ that show the power of SUP to transform lives.
1. How long have you paddled?
I have paddled and boated all my life but I have been paddleboarding for 3 years now.
2. Where do you regularly paddle? and where would you love to paddle one day?
I regularly paddle on the James River, Finely River, Bull Shoals Lake and Table Rock Lake here in Southern Missouri. As far as where I would love to paddle or my "dream paddle" Pristine lakes in Canada would be a dream to me, As much as I am a tropical nut, I love the beauty of quiet lakes cool waters. Although a nice paddle in the BVI's would be nice.
3. How did you get introduced to SUP and why were you interested?
I got into SUP through a passionate SUP’er Shane Perrin, I had always wanted to try it but just never had. Until my mother passed away at least. It took depression, weight gain and a very good friend "Shane Perrin" to make me crazy about SUP. I get antsy when I sit in a canoe or kayak for very long so it only was fitting that I would want to learn how to SUP. Little did I know was how much it would become a drug to me and the distances I would want to cover.
4. What does Live Love SUP mean to you?
Live Love SUP is funny, I was in St Louis visiting Shane and he was wearing a Live Love SUP T-shirt and I thought it was cool. I asked him what it was and he told me how cool you all were and your passion for the SUP community. Though we have never met, and we have only communicated a few times, you always remember to reply to me, even though your busy company, children and life. I respect that in you guys.
5.It's More Than Just a Board and a Paddle! Why is this true for you? Can you share how SUP has made a huge impact on your life? Share your Story!
SUP is more than just a Board and a Paddle......... Well, SUP is more than just a board and a paddle to me. In 2016 I was going through a depression, I lost my mother suddenly to a brain aneurysm and my world went to hell. My wife and I worked for my mother's company but shortly after she passed we closed the company. A few months and a lot of cheeseburgers and alcohol started to take its toll on me. I was gaining weight because I did not care, The depression kicked in hard as I took a part-time job at our local kayak shop. The one happy thing I had going for me was I could make bigger people happy about buying a kayak because if they saw I can that meant there was a boat for them too.
A May or June Day I had enough, I reached out to my close friend Shane Perrin to ask for advice or help. We talked about what was going on and what I was going through and he offered to help, IN A BIG WAY. Shane offered to build me a paddleboard that was big enough to hold my fat ass. I told him that I had no money to pay for the board. He told me the only payment he needed was to see his good friend get healthier and get into SUP. I was floored after we hung up the phone I broke down into tears. I could not believe it. I was going to be able to SUP.
Well, the summer went on and Shane spent his spare time shaping what would be called "Makuahine" which is Mother in Hawaiian. As the summer went on I started to eat better, working at the kayak shop the lifting boats and heat helped shed some weight. Then one day I went out to see how the board was looking and went I got to Shanes house I noticed a completed board. My board was done, and in true Shane Perrin fashion he said hope in the truck we are going for a paddle. Little did I know we were going to do 20 miles on the Meremac river. Yeah, my first time on a SUP board and he was throwing me in on a distance paddle. I loved it, my feet didn’t but I did. The year went on and I get a message from Shane, he told me I was paddling on the MR340 race from KC to STL 340 miles.
I was like , ummmmm ok sure why the hell not. I started to kick it into high gear spending 6 day a week paddling and just standing to get my feet trained for this journey. When I started this journey with Shane in 2016 I was 400+lbs, as of race day in 2017 I was under 300lbs.
6. Has SUP inspired you to share the sport and your story with others? Can you tell us more?
Fast forward to now and Shane has inspired me and helped me find what I was meant to do with my life. So i decided to be poor and open a SUP Rental company. The last 6 months Shane has mentored me in starting this business. Kayak rentals are a completely different ballpark so I had a little to learn about SUP rentals. I spent 6 month researching different brands of boards because if I was going to open a SUP rental company I was going to be able to put people my size on a board...... NO ONE would be left on shore.
My fleet is designed to carry heavy people yet, allow for average and small framed people to paddle them with ease. This is the drive I have with Show Me SUP, to Spread the world of SUP and devote my life to teaching people how to paddle and change their lives. I have also learned from my mother’s passing that each day is to not be taken for granted. Her passing changed how I look at life and this is what I want to inspire in my clients and friends and fellow sup junkies. I have also learned to promote the little things like Live Love SUP having shirts for bigger people. Every day is a struggle to find cool apparel that is my size and I know others have the same issue. Big people are outdoorsy too, and they can even accomplish things like the world’s longest non stop paddle race like the 340. I would love to take my passion for SUP on the road, teach people of larger sizes and abilities that they can SUP as well.
After Shane hooked me on SUP, losing a bunch of weight "which I put some back on but I will get rid of it" and finishing the MR340 With my best friend at my side and my wife and dad standing at the finish line I realized this is what I want to do with my life, open and show people of all shapes and sizes and abilities that SUP is life changing. This summer I was able to put a 16 year old on a board who has Freidrichs Ataxia "FA" and is wheelchair bound, The smile on his face and his mom and dads is one that I will never forget. All he wanted to do is paddleboard once in his life! This is what drives me to wake up and paddle every day "Well, every day i can"
I know most rental companies are great and give great service and love their clients but we are going to stand out above most. I may sound a little corny when I say that but I would rather live my life check to check with a break-even company than put only focus on pumping rentals in and out for more money solely because I just might change 1 persons life just like mine was changed. Not really a smart business plan but when you care they come.
7. Do you have any SUPer goals in the future?
My Future plans are to take SUP on the road, my wife and I are tossing around the idea of selling our house and building out a school bus. Sounds hippie-ish but we are tired of being held down to a house and we want to explore further waters, teach anyone and everyone we can how to SUP, Especially heavier people, people with disabilities. I would like to do some ultra distance paddles as well. I have announced that I will be doing the MR340 solo in 2019 which is a huge leap for me.
Who would have thought that some foam and fiberglass or rubber and some air could bring so much joy to people's lives. SUP is still in it's younger years here on the rivers in the Midwest but watching it grow and being part of that growth is very exciting.