GIG HARBOR CANOE AND KAYAK RACING TEAM

 

 

 Alan Anderson - Master Coach / Founder

From a young age, Alan has always been a dreamer, adventurer, man of grit. He has two adult children, a denture business in the area, and a local hike that he's made to a cliffside where he and his neighbor bobcat go to clear their minds. A fun, not commonly known fact about Alan is that his record at Pizza Hut's all-you-can-eat night is 33 pieces... including crusts. He was born in Tillicum and has lived in Washington ever since but that never kept him from traveling the world.

Alan got his first kayak in 1982 which started him on a path of kayak racing. Here are some favorite memories of his:

"Sea to Summit (2 day adventure race), Vancouver, British Columbia to Whistler Mountain (1996-2002). In '96 I entered this inaugural event in B.C. with 70 other competitors, mostly local B.C. folks that wanted to enjoy a "suffer fest" in the beautiful B.C. Coastal range. By the time I finally won gold in 2001 with my teammate Mark Gosney, it was the largest race of its kind in the world... some 600 kayaks on the starting line with competitors from all over the continent! On the podium that year, I was recognized for being the first to ever sign up back in '96! The attraction for me in the years I dedicated to this event was not so much about beating others, but rather winning the more challenging internal battles that every successful athlete must wage. [Another event] was the World Masters Games - Kayak Marathon - Melbourne, Australia 2002. After 3 or 4 miles, 2 k2's had left the field behind... for seven miles the Australian team tried to shake the U.S. boat off its stern wake to no avail... finally, the U.S. boat made its move in front of a huge crowd at the 1/2 way point... for the next mile or so, the Australian's hung tough riding wake... then the U.S. boat started a series of 30 second intervals.... it took 4 of these to break the Australian's spirit. That night, Mark and I enjoyed the ceremonies with gold medals around our necks!"

Today, Alan gets loads of enjoyment watching young people grow to love the sport. He loves seeing the kids face their fears when first getting started. He loves seeing them rewarded for their hard work and passion when they stand on the podium. We know Alan as one of the best storytellers of his time. He inspires people. He challenges people. He creates opportunities that no one else would have dreamed of. He started GHCKRT with nothing and has gained the love and respect of hundreds of athletes, coaches, and parents across the paddling world. Words can not come close to capturing the character of this man.

 

 

Contact Coach Alan

 

Read about the Alan Anderson Trophy


Alyson Morse - Head Coach

Alyson grew up locally in Gig Harbor with a family of 3 brothers and a sister. She used to show horses in 4-H from 3rd grade until mid highschool when she chose to focus on competing in sprint kayaking for GHCKRT after already paddling for 3 years. The sport led her all around the country and world for competition and became her passion very quickly. 

Mainly due to the incredible influence of Coach Alan and Jon on her life, she chose to pursue the same career as a coach. "My character was so shaped by Alan and Jon in a positive way that I wanted to gain the skills and knowledge to be able to do that for future generations." She had dreams of racing at the highest point possible so she moved to Oklahoma City to help coach the local kayak team there and train with the fasest women in the country after graduating highschool in 2014. The university shortly after her moving there cut programming with the sport resulting in Alyson finishing her time there as a rower  in order to help her obtain her Human Performance degree. 

Since the fall of 2018 she has moved back to Gig to coach this team. She loves people sincerely. The best way she does so is by building them up and challenging them to grow to be more than just a great athlete, but to be a person with strong character withstanding what life throws at them. 

Contact Coach Alyson


Payton Chiou - Group 1 Coach

Payton has been with the team as an athlete since 2007. Starting in 2018 he began coaching as the group 1 assistant coach. His type of coaching has enhanced the caliber of our athlete's ability to withstand heavy resistance. Possibly due to his own training as being in the National Guard, he has the ability to stir our members on to push past the physical limits they may perceive for themselves. 

In his time away from coaching he is most commonly found(Cheezit box in hand) doing absurd amounts of pushups, lifting heavy things and throwing them around, climbing the sides of buildings in a spider-man fashion, or possibly frolicking in local daisy fields. 


Sadie Hanks - Group 2, Group 3, and Development Team Coach

Sadie has given a lot of her time to GHCKRT. From the time she was 2 she was paddling in kayaks but joined the team as a canoer in the year 2012. In 2018 she began coaching as an intern then developed in her leadership to be the Development Team Coach for groups 2 and 3. 

Sadie is known for the joy that she brings to any situation. It could be pouring rain in 35 degrees and you will see the kids with high energy ready to work hard because of Coach Sadie's inspiration. She has a gift for serving young athletes by being personable, encouraging, and skilled in her craft.

When she is not coaching she is studying for her Associate's Degree, spending time with her cat, watering her plants, planning her next backpacking adventure, or helping out friends and family with genuine care. Sadie is multi-talented and has blessed this team with her presence and work ethic. 

Contact Coach Sadie

 


Tod Cole - Head Master's Coach, Group 2 & 3

Coach Tod got involved in the paddling world in Gig Harbor 2014. He is the owner of Recluse Leather works & inventor with a U.S. Patent as a lifetime carpenter. It's easy to say he enjoys building things. Tod volunteers with Pierce County Search & Rescue 4x4 Unit. He loves hiking in the mountains, photography, or pedaling a bicycle. Something that not many people know about Tod is that he holds the Bonneville Salt Flats Motorcycle Land Speed Record holder: AMA 650-APS BG @ 162.47 mph.

Tod has an eye for coaching by observing the little things. His goals are to continue learning & helping others learn how to meet their goals as they enjoy the sport. Currently he heads up the Masters Team of adults on GHCKRT. Everyone he coaches can agree that he does everything he does with a spirit of excellence.

Contact Coach Tod 


Coach Dimitri - Assistnat Group 1, 2 & 3

 

Born and raised in Hawaii Dimitri was drawn to the water at a young age. Unless he was forced he was found either swimming, surfing, fishing, or skin diving. Through the years his love for the water grew into becoming a deep-sea fisherman, certified rescue diver , life Guard, an all-around waterman. In troditional Hawaiian style he also paddled outrigger canoe and found a new passion for a team sport that can never be matched.

In 2013 he moved to Gig Harbor where he met his wife and started a new job. He from his career as a senior project engineer in construction to starting  a new career in the fitness community as a barbell coach specializing in rehab and strength and conditioning. He developed a lot of knowledge through his own fitness journey of weighing over 430 pounds to rehabbing back injury and knee injury. He soon realized he  found his calling.

But something was missing and he never could really figure it out...

In January 2022 he started working with lots of athletes from GHCKRT helping the team develop a strength program geared for their specific sport. Through several months of working with "some of the greatest well-minded kids I have ever been exposed to" he transitioned into a more integral role. Dimitri soon found himself hired as a paddling coach.

If you ask Dimitri he will tell you that "The passion Alan has for this team and for the work that the team does is infectious and I felt empowered to want to help the team as much as possible." He would also tell you that, "Through this relationship I have been able to be out on the water, reignite my passion for the ocean, and also step back into an out rigger canoe for the first time in 10 years. Since that started I haven't looked back and I haven't stopped smiling. I now have the opportunity to be with these kids and help them from the dock all the way to the lifting platform."

 

              


Zella Wells- Assistant Coach Group 2&3

Zella started paddling at age 14 (spring 2018). She was one of the few kids that went from a tryout in an older age to group one in about a year.  She raced internationally in 2021 OHR in Czech Republic, Pas-de-Calais in Arras France, and Hauts-de France ( also in Arras).

There are many things that she loves about the sport but having the opportunity to train and race internationally being the highlight. She loves being a member of this team because of the "supportive-family like atmosphere-that the coaches, athletes, and parents create. Being a member of GHCKRT has taught me what it means to be a team player, and how important it is to see the needs of others as well as your own."

She enjoys coaching because it gives her an opportunity to pass on her own experience, and love for the sport to others. We are so honored to have her apart of our coaching staff giving back to the team that helped her grow the past few years. 


Lydia Morse-  Assistant Coach Group 2&3

Lydia Morse has come back to the team after taking about a 7 year break. She paddled back when her older sister was on the team(aka Coach Alyson) and had a fiery passion to want to surpass her predecessor. It didn't take long for her to find that she had a talent in hip hip dancing though which steered her in another direction.

During highschool she served as a dance captain for her team which ignited her skillset of coaching. She worked at the boys and girls club to find that she loved helping youth in need. Basically the past 6 years she has been inchild service in some way. Needless to say, she has a passion for making good change in the community around her and that starts with the youth.

We are happy to have her join our coaching crew!  


Jonathan Sousley - Coach Emeritus

Jonathan Sousley is another legend alongside Alan Anderson in the history of GHCKRT. He was the strength and canoe coach for the team back in the beginning. Many of the current coaches were under his leadership when they used to be athletes on the team. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife to be closer to sunny skies, and his two children who also used to paddle on the team. He's coached many people whether it was water related, soccer, or life in general. He loves adventure and being healthy and active. 

Jon loves people so well by the way he meets them where they are at and gives them the stepping stones to move toward better things. He is an inspiration, encouraging, perservering, faithful, and fun. It was the most difficult time to see him move from Gig Harbor but we still enjoy it when he makes visits back and yet again pours into the newest generation of paddlers in the Harbor. 

 


Andy Michels- Outrigger Coach

Andy comes to GHKCRT with twenty years' experience racing outrigger canoes.  His experience includes recreational kayak, dragon boat and outrigger paddling.  He has raced in Canada, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand.  He recently served as a coach for the Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club in Tacoma. Andy is the founder of the Wollochet Bay Outrigger Canoe Club and is the treasurer of the Pacific Northwest Outrigger Racing Canoe Association.   He has three grandsons who will soon reach paddling age.