One of the beautiful aspects of standup is it’s appeal to women. In this fine game we “play,” ladies play a key role in the sport’s development. Now and into the future. This fall and winter, SUP magazine is catching up with the female faces of SUP to find out what they’ve been up to, and what’s in store for 2012.

As an avid waterwoman, fitness expert and sports model, Suzie Cooney of Suzie Trains Maui has helped hundreds of people get in shape, conquer their fears of the ocean and experience standup paddling. Featured in SUP mag’s 2011 Summer Fitness issue, here’s what’s on tap in the wonderful world of Cooney. –-Shari Coble

How did you get into SUP?
I've always enjoyed being outdoors and have worked in sports orthopedics and the physical therapy field. I moved to Maui, chasing the wind for windsurfing and in April 2009 I broke both my legs. I had tried SUP just prior to my injury and thought it was a great platform for reconditioning and rehabilitating. Now as an athlete for Naish, I have developed a niche for functional training for SUP and held one of the the largest free SUP clinics with about 430 participants.

Tell us about your 2011.
2011 has been really great. I only competed in a few downwind races, including the Naish race and OluKai's Ho'olaule'a, where I won my age group. I went to Costa Rica on a media tour and have held 10 free SUP clinics for women as well as 4 full moon paddles, which have all been a lot of fun. I've also written a lot of SUP fitness articles for Naish, but my biggest accomplishment of 2011 would have to be winning my age group at Ho'olaule'a. That was really big for me because it was an important goal.

What's your favorite experience been with SUP?
A major personal breakthrough for me is helping people conquer their fear of the waves for the first time. I ease them in – practically strapping them to me – and it changes their life…it's pretty neat. My focus isn't racing or personal, it's being able to just help people get out on the water standup paddling. It's important to me to help others aspire to set goals and fine-tune land-body skills that translate to the water.

What do you have planned for 2012?
I'll do a couple downwind races next year and am very excited to be hosting Ho'olaule'a. There will be a few free SUP clinics and I’ll be writing a lot for Naish, but before the New Year starts, I will be helping Naish hold the free and non-competitive SUP Fun Beach Fitness and Paddle Challenge.

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Suzie Cooney, of Suzie Trains Maui, in action on a Naish SUP from Naish International on Vimeo.

Top photo by Darrell Wong