Interview with Matt Niswonger

Matt Niswonger always knew he wanted to do something creative and adventurous, but he didn’t know exactly what that was. He comes from a very educated family background: “Both my grandparents on my mom’s side went to Stanford, and they were very influential in stressing the importance of a college education.”

In that sense, going to college was never really a question. Plus, as he says, “I grew up in a small community and wanted to expand my horizons.”

Well, apparently that early emphasis on education took hold, and Matt became an educator himself, eventually earning a Master’s degree in environmental education. This career path enabled Matt to combine his academic side with his sheer love of nature.

Eventually, he met his counterpart in Cathy Claesson, also a teacher and lover of the outdoors. What happened next in their lives was not planned:

Ten years ago, on one of their Sierra climbing trips, things went terribly wrong for Matt and Cathy. They got lost… seriously lost.

As day turned to night, and they became cold and hungry, it was one of those scenes where they started imagining what trees they could eat. They climbed and clawed, sometimes not sure whether they were going east, west, north, or south – and somehow made it back to the highway where they had originally parked.

You can imagine the joy they felt when they finally got back to their car, after virtually a whole day of being lost. But then something clicked: while driving home, they realized that they weren’t the only ones who had harrowing tales of outdoor adventures.

However, there weren’t any California publications that offered stories about stuff like this. There were a few ski magazines, but nothing for adventure enthusiasts – climbers, hikers, mountaineers, snowboarders, and so on. That was when they decided to launch Adventure Sports Journal.

After an eight-month crash course in learning about publishing, demographics, operating costs,  and distribution routes, they launched their first issue of Adventure Sports Journal, spreading their modest 7,000 copies all over Northern California. Now their publication is the leading resource for Northern California adrenaline junkies.

When asked what Matt’s learned over the years that he might tell aspiring students, he said “Time is more important than money; having both is a worthy, lifelong goal.” He went on to say, “Challenge yourself everyday to be a better person, but always love your family and yourself unconditionally.”

Learn more about Matt and Cathy at Adventure Sports Journal and be sure to read Matt’s archive of articles. Follow Adventure Sports Journal on Facebook. You might even want to contribute your own interesting adventure stories by writing Matt directly at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.