Wanna be the very best, like no one ever was? Scott Salter already is.
The words to the Pokémon theme song describe the goal of many fans of the TV series turned video game franchise—including Salter, junior communication student.
Salter runs one of the most successful Pokémon leagues in the state of Utah, a group he has cultivated and organized every Saturday afternoon since 2007. Known as Professor Pokémon at these events, Salter is highly involved in the world of competitive Pokémon, owns more than 1,000 Pokėmon cards and was a competitor before moving into the realm of event organizing.
Q: How did you get involved in the world of competitive Pokémon?
A: Back in 2007, there was an event at a Toys “R” Us where a bunch of kids were gathered downloading a character for the Pokémon video game, and there was an older gentleman who was kind of running this, so to speak. And I was like, “This is really fun. We should do it more,” so we started doing it once a month at a library, and it just steamrolled from there. We started doing weekly [competitions], and we got registered through the actual Pokémon company and we got supplies and all this stuff. The elderly man had to step away because of his cancer, and I’ve just been running it since.
Q: What’s your favorite part about running a Pokémon competition?
A: The energy. There’s a lot of atmosphere and excitement with thinking, “Oh, we get to win something. We get to play. We’re at this big tournament.” Even just coming to this small league, it’s just very energetic.
Q: What’s your least favorite part about running a Pokémon competition?
A: The energy drain. It’s exhausting sometimes… I had to break up a fight once between a few kids. I think one kid… I think he bit the other kid or something. There’s a lot of kids who trade fake cards. Like you can’t do that, you’ve got to get them off the market. Some kids steal. So there is some negatives, of course, with a group of this size, but it’s overall good. Just tiring.
Q: Why is it is important to you to keep running competitions?
A: A lot of the kids…This is Pokémon, so they are inherently nerdy. The social skills they build are important because of their interaction. They’re learning how to deal and trade because, you know, they’ve got to make sure the trade is fair and they have to communicate. They can’t just sit silently. They have to interact with each other. It’s social and they’re making friends and gaining stuff like that.
Q: You’re not getting paid for this. What keeps you coming back?
A: Commitment and I prefer more bringing the joy to it—because it’s not fun for me every week, of course. It’s tiring. But doing it for the kids and the adults and them getting out of it is more important to me than my own personal enjoyment.
Q: How do you get so many people at your competitions week after week?
A: Our main website is UtahPokémon.com, and that’s where a lot of people get their information. There’s various leagues and tournaments throughout the valley. And then, for here, the library really pushes us because we’re an official county library club, and we do flyers with them, promotion and stuff on their website. A lot of it’s word of mouth. Kids recognize me all over the place now around the cities because that’s word of mouth. That’s Pokémon.
Q: Anything else do you want people to know about competitive Pokémon?
A: Everyone kind of played Pokémon as a kid. But it’s still around, and not a lot of people know.
Westminster students looking to get involved in the world of competitive Pokémon can visit the local entertainment shop Game Night Games—located in Sugar House at 2148 S 900 East—on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon for weekly competitions.