The Illinois Paddling Council today named Jim Tibensky Illinois’ Paddler of the Year for 2007.
For more than three decades Jim Tibensky has demonstrated excellence in paddling. Jim discovered canoeing in Boy Scouts. “I loved it so much” he says, “that I jumped at the chance to race. The rest is history.” Between 1968 and 1994 he won seven state championships, twenty-five Midwest division championships and eight national championships.
Over the course of his racing career Jim competed in a total of 328 races winning 168 first places prizes, and placed second and third 37 times each!
Tibensky was the course designer for two World Cup races, three Champion International Slalom Series, and two National Championship races that were held in Wausau, Wisconsin and South Bend, Indiana. In 1996 Tibensky officiated as a Scribe at the Atlanta Olympic Games. He currently teaches paddling at the Geneva Kayak Center in Geneva, IL.
Since 1998 Jim has been the head kayak guide for week long sea kayak trips offered through Omni Youth Services of Illinois, a unique wilderness therapy program serving youth and families of Chicago’s Northwest suburbs. Jim’s passion for wilderness kayaking and commitment to youth development combine in supporting the expedition kayak trips that OMNI runs for troubled youth. The trips teach teens teamwork and self-sufficiency. He has contributed over 200 volunteer days over the last decade, touching the lives of countless youth, and impacting the quality and safety of a local counseling program that has since earned international recognition.
Perhaps the most unusual paddling Jim does is as the “Aquatic Unit” of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. The group picks up birds that have hit the Loop buildings during migration season. When a call comes in to rescue an aquatic bird from the river or lake, Jim is there. He finds a slalom kayak is the perfect duck and goose rescue vehicle.
When he’s not paddling, teaching paddling or rescuing stunned ducks, Tibensky works for the Federal Defender Program, the law firm that is the public defender for the federal court in Chicago. Jim grew up in Chicago and lives with his wife Gail in DuPage County.
From paddling to racing to mentoring youth and new paddlers, Jim Tibensky has, throughout his long paddling career, been an outstanding example of achieving excellence in paddling, teaching and mentoring others to do the same.
The IPC is an umbrella organization of the canoe & kayak clubs of Illinois. Its mission is to represent the interests of paddlers and to foster and recognize excellence in paddlesport. Nominations for the Paddler of the Year award come from paddlers statewide.
To read an interview with Jim Tibensky go to www.illinoispaddling.org