Catching up: How I spent my summer vacation


Sheena Schreck (’04 communication studies) is the founder of Stand Up Paddle (SUP): Iowa, an organization dedicated to promoting one of the country’s most up-and-coming outdoor recreational sports. While her work and love of the water has taken the Carroll, Iowa, native to Laguna Beach, California, she has never forgotten the place she calls home and has enjoyed the opportunity to bring her favorite sport to her home state. We at the Young Alumni Council were thrilled to have the opportunity to add her story to the feature, and watch for more summer vacation stories to be added to the blog soon. Did you do something cool with your summer vacation? Contact Young Alumni Council marketing committee chair Andrea Fellows ’06 at to share your story with Young Alumni News.

YAN: What inspired you to get involved in SUP and promote it in Iowa?
SS:The Sup Iowa story began during a family trip in Lake Tahoe, California in 2009. It was during that vacation my sisters and I were offered a chance to try a new sport called “SUP” — stand up paddle boarding. Always having a curious mind and a love for adventure, my sisters Liz and Keely and I decided to set sail on our first experience at sunrise on the lakes of beautiful Tahoe. After a few paddle strokes into the experience, I found myself a new passion that offered a great workout, serenity, and the excitement of something different.

SUP Iowa is born.

Soon after the trip, I relocated from Iowa to southern California and immediately bought my first paddle board. I became immersed in the sport and enjoyed sharing my new passion with friends, local beach bronzers, and my family that would often visit from Iowa. During a sunset paddle session in the fall of 2012, I envisioned bringing two of my passions together — my love of paddling and my desire to give back to my home state of Iowa. Immediately after returning from that paddle session I went to work on how I was going to turn my dream into reality. Fast forward to today, where the coastal experience has been brought to the Iowa lakes! SUP Iowa provides a fun and unique opportunity for the residents of Iowa to enjoy the beautiful waters around the state through the growing water sport activity originating from the islands of Hawaii.

What is SUP and what are the benefits?
Stand up Paddle Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Stand Up Paddling, or SUP for short is a popular water sport where a paddle is used while standing up on a surfboard. SUP has a Hawaiian heritage and translates in Hawaiian to Ku How He’e Nalu: to stand, to paddle, to surf, a wave. Stand Up paddleboarding came about as a way for surf instructors to manage their classes of beginner surfers. The higher viewpoint offered by the SUP style made it easier for the instructors to see what was going on around them and check for incoming swells. The instructors used their regular surf boards and added a single blade paddle.

The popularity of the modern sport of Stand Up Paddle Surfing also has its origins in the Hawaiian islands. In the early 1960’s the “Beach Boys of Waikiki would paddle out on their long boards with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. The term “Beach Boy Surfing,” another name for SUP surfing, came from this. Rick Thomas is credited as being the first modern surfer to bring Stand Up Paddleboarding to the mainland. In 2000 Rick introduced California to the new sport of SUP Surfing as an alternative way to train while the surf was down. Stand Up Paddling has since became huge in the States as well as around the globe.

Stand Up Paddling offers the young and old an alternative to challenge their balance and their core. The benefits range from the satisfaction of trying something new to an intense cardio workout under the beautiful open sky. SUP Iowa offers a variety of options for the beginners and advanced paddlers alike. SUP fitness is a fun and challenging way to get fit, sculpt your body, strengthen your core, improve your balance, and increase your overall wellbeing. Who doesn’t love getting a workout on the water and under the sun? In addition, we also offer SUP YOGA, offering a modified version to your yoga practice. Can you think of anything better than savasana on board, with your fingertips in the water?

How did your time at Iowa State prepare you to create SUP Iowa?
My college experience I had at Iowa State provided me a strong foundation of business acumen and excellent communication skills with the courage to realize my entrepreneurial vision! From my mentors to the curriculum, Iowa State offered an experience that has allowed me to succeed in my “day job,” as well as an opportunity to stretch myself beyond the normal every day. In addition to SUP Iowa, I have been in the pharmaceutical business for the last 10 years. I initiated my career with Pfizer and now have the good fortune to work for Mylan, where I have been for the last five years. Currently, I am a district sales manager for Southern California and Hawaii.

My involvement within the Greek system (Go GPHI-B!) allowed me opportunities to create friendships with positive and talented women across the state and beyond. These women, including my supportive family, have been an integral part of my professional success. I am so appreciative for the wonderful experiences I had as a college student at ISU and still wear my cardinal and gold colors with pride! My time spent at Iowa State enhanced my pride I have for our great state.

How do you show you are “Forever True” promoting your movement this summer?
I will always be an Iowan at heart — always Forever True to the “field of dreams.” Anyone who has ever met me in my career which has taken me all across the United States and around the globe, knows I am an Iowan – born and raised! I once was told by a former client of mine that Iowa should stand for Intelligent Outstanding Women of America. Sounds about right! In all sincerity, my vision for SUP Iowa was twofold: to create a business out of a growing sport I am incredibly passionate about and in a state I will always call home. As a current California resident, I’m a proud Iowan and Cyclone ambassador. I’m proud of the opportunities I have been able to create for the locals and visitors of the Iowa Great Lakes through the sport of SUP. In addition, I am thankful for my SUP Iowa ambassadors who have been an essential part of building SUP Iowa over the last two seasons; two of my ambassadors are current Iowa State students, and I believe their experiences at ISU have helped elevate the experience we have been able to offer for our guests.

What advice do you have for the class of 2015?
Start with why! One of my favorite books is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. In this book, Sinek enlightens readers as to why some leaders have the gift to inspire others more than the rest. In a nutshell, it is those who know their “why” who often generate the most impact on others. I believe it’s about finding what you are incredibly passionate about and pursuing it relentlessly.  In addition to discovering your why, I think it’s all about taking advantage of every opportunity! From the friendships you form to the classes you take, each opportunity is a choice you can make to further your personal and professional development. Carpe Diem! Lastly, the social media generation has produced an “immediate gratification” mentality where text messaging and twitter trump the face to face conversation. Although I am a big fan of many of the social media platforms that allow connectivity across the globe, we must remember the power of human contact. Relationships are key to realizing success. Invest the time to pick up the phone, or meet in person and spend the time speaking and listening to others.


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