East Coast rock legend Bad Brains sponsors Ski to Sea team

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 23, 2014 

Scott Paglia, Bellingham, Ski to Sea

Bellingham canoeist Scott Paglia, photographed at his home on Friday, May 2, 2014 in Bellingham, Wash., got his favorite rock band, Bad Brains, to sponsor his Ski to Sea team called Rock For Light.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Scott Paglia's Rock for Light recreational Ski to Sea team is all about Bad Brains and good legs.

Rock fans, of course, will recognize the team's name as the iconic anthem of the famed band Bad Brains, which Paglia, 42, takes great joy in stressing is still performing on the East Coast with the gusto he first enjoyed in his teen years.

"We were looking for a sponsor after we first participated in Ski to Sea last year when my clinic sponsored us," said Paglia, who owns and operates Acupuncture Health Center in Bellingham. "My buddy (and fellow canoeist) James Bochsler and I thought of contacting Bad Brains.

"We were completely floored when they e-mailed back to us right away, saying they would be happy to sponsor us," said Paglia, who happily noted the team will be racing Sunday, May 25, in Bad Brains T-shirts in honor of the variety of creative hard rock music they perform. "In the history of Ski to Sea, this is probably the first time an iconic rock band has sponsored a team. They started in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s."

Paglia says he and his team feel especially honored because of what the all-African American band stands for.

"What's important to note is that what I love most about Bad Brains doing this for us is that all their songs are about how we're all in this together (as humanity), fighting for social change," he said. "They do very intricate work. They were 20 years ahead of Nirvana."

Ironically, Paglia had long been one of those Bellingham residents who had no use for Ski to Sea since he moved here 14 years ago. He and his wife, Kerry Harrison, and daughters Kiara, 9, and Rowan, 7, now look at it as a treasured family weekend.

"I once thought Ski to Sea was too crowded, too crazy," he said. "I wouldn't even come into town. Now we can see how it's a great way to anchor your spring. I'm definitely planning to keep doing it."

Paglia says he's likely the team's most "hardcore" competitor, since he wants to improve his canoe leg time of 116 minutes with Bochsler, which Paglia notes was about in the top third last year.

"I'd like to go below 100 minutes," Paglia said. "James Bochsler (a local pediatrician) is all in with me now."

The team also includes cross country skier Jim Harle, downhill skier Roger Grummel, runner William Donnelly, road biker David Schneider, mountain biker Alex Grummel and kayaker Rob Campbell.

"I love to be competitive, but I didn't want that feeling to bleed over to the rest of the team," Paglia said, pun not intended.

Paglia canoed in his youth on the lakes of upstate New York, especially Buckhorn, but he had since been involved in other sports, such as high school wrestling, college lacrosse, and later martial arts.

"I was pretty intense," he said. "I was that guy who was always listening (to rock) on headphones in the locker room. I started Ski to Sea canoeing because I believe in doing something that makes me uncomfortable mentally and physically, though mostly mentally. I like to challenge myself."

Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.

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