Tad Dennis

    Athlete Bio




    Mount Holly , NC

    Event/Discipline: Canoe Slalom, C1
    Height: 6'2"
    Hometown: Mount Holly, North Carolina
    Birthplace: Riverdale, Georgia
    Birthdate: 5/28/1984

    Career Highlights:
    • 2008-2011 U.S. National Team Member
    • Reached the semifinals at 2011 World Cup No. 4, placing 29th
    • Top 20 finish at 2009 World Cup in Bratislava
    • 3rd at 2010 U.S. National Team Trials

    Recent Results:

    • 2016 U.S. Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team Trials: 3rd in C1 and 6th in K1
    • 2015 World Championships: 31st in C2 with Tyler Smith
    • 2015 World Cup No. 2: 29th in C2 with Tyler Smith
    • 2015 World Cup No. 1: 29th in C2 with Tyler Smith
    • 2015 U.S. National Team Trials: 5th in C1 and 3rd in C2 with Tyler Smith
    • 2015 U.S. Open: 3rd in C1 and 3rd in C2 with Tyler Smith
    • 2014 U.S. National Team Trials: 4th
    • 2014 World Cup No. 3: 31st in C-1
    • 2014 World Cup No. 2: 23rd in C-1
    • 2014 U.S. National Team Trials: 5th in C-1
    • 2014 U.S. Open: 3rd in C-1


    • Job: air traffic controller
    • Hobbies: mountain biking, snowboarding
    • Quote: "No pain, no gain"
    • Website: http://www.taddennis.com/
    • Triva: I am an air traffic controller and a pilot

    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.

    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 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.

    (Courtesy of TadDennis.com)

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