by Josh Reiss, photographer
Will Leverette is a key figure in the local whitewater-paddling scene of both Western North Carolina and Warren Wilson College. His grandfather was Frank Bell of the famous “Frank Bell’s Rapid,” a Class IV rapid on the French Broad River. His mother, Pat Bell Leverette was one of the first women to canoe the Nantahala River. Coming from a line of boaters may have helped him write the book “A History of Whitewater paddling in Western North Carolina: Water Wise,” published by The History Press. This narrative archives adventures of paddling’s pioneers from 1923 to 1980.
On campus Leverette has a history of his own. A graduate of ’78, Leverette started the very first Outdoors Club at Warren Wilson in 1976. As of late, he has been the leader and coach of Wilson’s Paddling Program. Leverette works with the kayak team whose season is in the spring; Outdoor Programs, who take regular paddling trips; as well as with Team River Runners coordinating river trips, roll practice, and service opportunities for those who’d like to learn how to get on the water.