My name is Tom Potter, however most people know me as T-Pot. I currently reside in Leavenworth, Washington, a small mountain town in the heart of the Washington Cascades. For the past seven years, kayaking has consumed my life and has slowly become the activity that I base my lifestyle on. Currently, I work as a bartender at a Euro-Inspired Tapas restaurant, do some part time construction, and teach paddle sports at the Wenatchee Valley Community College to fund my “paddle everyday” lifestyle.
I live in Leavenworth because I am able to paddle all year long without really going anywhere. Of course I take any opportunity I get to paddle a new river or go on a trip, but on most days of the week, I paddle Tumwater Canyon of the Wenatchee River. It is a road side class IV-V run and the put in is 7 minutes from my front door. Icicle Creek is also within 10 minutes of my house and when the water is flowing, I spend a lot of time in that zone. I take great pride in knowing this area and love showing visitors, local aspiring paddlers, and those who are new to the area down these runs. I am very close with the owners and staff of our local paddle sports store, Leavenworth Mountain Sports, and have become their go-to contact when customers have questions about where to kayak on any given day.
I completed both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Central Washington University. While I was there, I was heavily involved in the outdoor recreation department. I specialized in planning, leading, and teaching paddling activities. During the time I was there, I led multi-day rafting trips, taught raft guide trainings, taught introductory kayaking classes, hosted kayak pool sessions, and led SUP clinics. As a matter of fact, the main reason I went back for grad school was because the university offered me a graduate assistantship where I would work as the outdoor trip coordinator for the university while earning my Master’s Degree.
As I am now done with school for the time being, my future goals are focused on growing as a paddler and continuing the expansion of the paddling community in the Wenatchee Valley. In 2014, I got my first taste of the downriver race scene while competing in the Wind River Race, the Northwest Creeking Comp, and the Callaghan Race. I learned a lot at these events and will without a doubt be racing a lot this coming season. I also just joined the Jackson Kayak Regional Whitewater team and am very excited about working with the Jackson family in the future.
Concerning more long-term goals, I see myself getting involved in paddling education again. For my Master’s Thesis, I wrote a detailed handbook that articulates the process of implementing a whitewater kayaking program within the university. I feel that it is a very useful document and after putting the all the time and effort into it, I would like to see some schools benefit from it.