If you want to know who Tad Dennis is, he is passion personified. Whether it is his love for the water or his fascination with flying, Tad is passionate about everything he does. Additionally, he is a resilient athlete, overcoming numerous stressful and often painful obstacles to get where he is today, earning himself the title of a true survivor. If you want to know who Tad Dennis is, then start at the beginning…
Tad Dennis was born in Riverdale, GA on May 28, 1984. Soon after that he was thrown into the front of a canoe with his dad. Tad began to learn everything that he could from his father—canoeing, swimming, and flying planes. However, paddling was the most alluring thing to him and as soon as he was able, he would sneak his mother’s kayak onto the lake so he could teach himself how to paddle. After plenty of begging, Tad received his first kayak at the age of 7.
Three years later, Tad began training to kayak in the slalom division with the Atlanta Center for Excellence. His natural talent earned himself a spot on the US Cadet National Team from ages 11 to 13 in the solo kayak (K1) class. At the age of 14, Tad switched over to the solo canoe (C1) class, trading his double-bladed paddle for a single-bladed paddle and switching body positions to a kneeling stance. After this switch, Tad was on the US Junior National Team from ages 14 to 17. He even placed 4th at a Junior World Cup race in the Czech Republic.
Tad only slowed his training to pursue his other passion and attend Air Traffic Control school in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in May of 2006. Although this kept him from training as much as he would have liked, Tad graduated in time to compete in the US Nationals race at the new US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. Even after not being able to get any good training for so long, Tad was in 2nd after his first run. But, because Tad was out of shape, he was not able to pull out another good run so he dropped down to 8th. Tad enjoyed the course at the USNWC so much that he moved to Charlotte.
The interesting part about Tad is how much he has dedicated his life to be able to compete on the national and international levels. At the age of 13, he spent two months of his school year training in New Zealand with a group called Adventure Quest. This is when Tad really began to excel in the sport because he was able to do two workouts a day, everyday. Although, it also helped that he was able to push himself harder by kayaking on bigger rapids than his parents would let him. Fortunately, for him, his parents could not stop him because they were on the other side of the world.
As for some of the obstacles he has faced, two years ago in August of 2004, Tad was in a near-fatal car accident. When his truck rolled off a mountain road, it left him with a crushed left leg and broken left hand, and kept him from walking for nearly 5 months and paddling for 7 months. When he thought he was safe enough to venture out and have some fun, he fractured the L1 vertebra in his back while running the Great Falls on the Potomac River. This meant another 3 months off the water. He is very lucky to be alive from both incidents and these hiatuses from the water made him realize how much he truly enjoys paddling and how his main ambition is to compete at the best of his ability.
Tad is now working as an Air Traffic Controller at the Charlotte Airport. He is now on the US National Team, which means that he will represent the US in many World Cup races and in the World Championships. He now has more drive to train than he has ever had, and aspires to be the US representative for C1 in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. He trains every day combining a unique mix of weight-lifting, mountain biking, running, using physio balls, and flat-water paddling to keep him in peak performance shape.