My Life on the Water
Written by: Grace Wilkins
As an incoming freshman at Auburn University, I HATED water skiing. My childhood experiences consisted of cold, New York water, a boat full of old men, and bluegrass music. Not interested. But after a year of riding horses for Auburn’s NCAA equestrian team, I was ready for something new. I knew the Auburn ski coach, Jeff Wiswall, because my dad would ski with him when he would come to visit me and he invited me to come to their spring tournament. When I got there, I was surprised at how laid back and friendly everyone was, even if they were on different teams! So the next day I came out with a few friends to give it another try. Jeff introduced me to the mini-slalom course and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Being on a champion NCAA team gave me a huge toolkit of sports leadership skills when I left to join the ski team my sophomore year. I struggled when the team wasn’t a priority to other members or when leaders acted to benefit themselves instead of the group. I was nominated president for my junior and senior years with a vision to turn a dying club back into a TEAM. Since then we have doubled our active members, pulled ourselves out of near bankruptcy, and turned back into a nationally competitive team.
I was very excited when I heard about the marketing internship at USA Water Ski because what could be better than talking about skiing all day? Seeing how everything worked from the inside gave me perspective on how little I actually knew about them as a governing body and the resources that they offer. They had a bunch of new ideas they were working on to promote membership and generate renewed enthusiasm for water sports. Their energy and passion made each day there exciting. As an intern, I felt as though I was given opportunity to help make a difference as opposed to just fetching coffee. I gained a better understanding of the real world applications of my major, a wealth of knowledge about my sport, and a better appreciation of the other disciplines of USA Water Ski. Though my internship is over, I plan to continue helping headquarters with certain projects we were working on. I can’t let them have all the fun!
When I think about USA Water Ski’s slogan “Life on the Water”, I think about the days spent out at the lake with my family. Sometimes that family is my dad and his buddies out on cold New York water with their questionable tunes I’ve grown to enjoy. Sometimes that family is my teammates spending after-class hours coaching one another until the sun goes down. Other times the families can be people that have welcomed me into their homes at different sites I’ve been to as I travel and compete, even if they barely knew me! Water skiing is so much more than an individual sport. It is truly about Life on the Water.
The Missouri Disabled Water Ski Association (MDWSA) held an adaptive water ski clinic in August 2014 called Summer Splash. Many new people were able to experience life on the water through their dedicated efforts. They even got some great coverage on their local news station; click here to see the story! For more information visit the event's website here.
Lisa Neal, Publicity and Marketing for Aquanut Watershows, Inc.
Aquanut Watershows, Inc, located in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin and founded in 1972, has a long standing history of giving back through the Adaptive Aquatics Program, developed by our team. The Aquanut Adaptive program is the largest in the state of Wisconsin, developed 15 years ago, serving hundreds of participants each summer but giving back and supporting organizations that have strong connections to our team members doesn’t stop here.
Each summer the Junior Aquanut Team dedicates a show to Passionately Pink Breast Cancer Research Program. Junior Show Director, Kristine Hedrick, a breast cancer survivor, has succeeded in turning a sad family incident into an upbeat event that thrills skiers and spectators each summer. Kristine has spread a love for life and skiing with all of the youngest Aquanuts.
Tragically, the Aquanuts lost teammates Cheri Amore and Heather Buntrock much too early. Each year we honor these young ladies with a show benefiting the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) and the LAM (Lymphangioleiomymatosis) Funds. Both Cheri and Heather were taken in the prime of their lives. Skiing and being an Aquanut was a passion for both young ladies, and today’s team members are honored to ski for the memory of these ladies.
The Aquanuts donate the proceeds from these shows to both the MACC and LAM Funds.
Here are some photos from the Passionately Pink Show held in early August 2014.
Photo Credits: Lisa Neal Photography
The 2014 Clean Lakes Festival in Madison, Wis. was a wildly successful event that got new people on the water while gaining awareness and momentum in the community for the advocacy of healthy lakes. Here are some highlights from the July 26, 2014 event.
Rachel Fossum, Rural Initiatives Coordinator for the Clean Lakes Alliance
Don Heilman, Chairman of the Clean Lakes Committee & longtime member of the Mad-City Ski Team
The state of our lakes in Madison, Wis., had been abysmal for some time due to weeds, blue-green algae and beach closings. It had become a way of life for Madisonians to find other means – local pools, summer cottages, water parks…anything other than the local lakes – of enjoying water during summer months.
In 2007 that all began to change with a bright idea and a band of willing volunteers from the Mad-City Water Ski Team. The club had been performing free water ski shows for Madison for more than 40 years, but yet felt some obligation to try to do its part to help save the lakes. The idea? The first Clean Lakes Festival – a way for area residents to re-engage with our precious lakes and to raise money to help clean them.
To raise money, the club’s directors made calls to some of the bigger businesses in town to ask for support of the event – for the sake of the lakes. They were met with a resounding “YES” from CEOs and business owners that saw the lakes as the center of our community. A recruiting and retention tool. A guarantee of improving property values. The hook that makes Madison different from any other city in the country.
Seven years later, the Clean Lakes Festival rolls on and serves as the launching pad for what is now the Clean Lakes Alliance and our community movement to reduce runoff and restore our lakes. It is the marquee event of the summer and features a wide array of opportunities to enjoy the lakes.
This year the Clean Lakes Festival will be held on Saturday, July 26, beginning at 9 a.m. The festival will be jam-packed with activities, including water ski shows, paddle boarding, kayak and canoe rides, log rolling, children’s activities, live music, beer tent, water ski lessons, and more!
To follow the action, visit http://www.cleanlakesfestival.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/CleanLakesFestival
If you are a club leader interested in starting your own Clean Lakes Festival, please contact Don Heilman email@example.com for more details.
Colsac Skiers Inc., based on Lake Wisconsin, is committed to teaching both children and adults with disabilities how to water ski. Its dedicated members include USA Water Ski Certified Instructors and Drivers and Red Cross certified Life Guards for side skiers. This group of people provides therapeutic recreation that reduces depression and anxiety while improving well being and quality of life - all in a safe environment. They are changing lives and providing hundreds of people the opportunity to live life on the water.
A little history behind Colsac Skiers by Travis Lukens, team president:
“A few winters ago I was out shoveling snow, wishing I was out water skiing, and had the idea of taking Wounded Warriors water skiing. I had no idea if it was even possible. An internet search led me to Ann at U Can Ski 2. In the spring my wife and I attended a clinic Ann was putting on for the Cypress Gardens Ski Team and we learned about the world of adaptive water skiing. I was hooked! When we got back to Wisconsin I ordered a bunch of equipment from Liquid Access, started a 501c3 non-profit called Colsac Skiers and started recruiting volunteers all with the hopes of getting at least one person with a disability water skiing. We skied with almost 100 people our first year. Sharing my love of water skiing with people who have never even thought they would have the chance has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I think everyone remembers their first time water skiing and we get to share that experience with some of the most amazing people in the world.”
Colsac Skiers is hosting around 8 Basic Skills adaptive water ski clinics in Madison, WI. To follow the action, connect with them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/colsacskiers For more information, please visit http://www.colsacskiers.com/ or contact their president, Travis Lukens: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some photos from their first event!
The ShowCal Skiers is California’s only amateur Water Ski Show Team which was spearheaded by several pro and amateur show skiers in 2013. Its current members come from both professional and recreational teams including Sea World, Cypress Gardens, Six Flags, Magic Mountain, Tommy Bartlett’s, Muskego Water Bugs, Badgerland , Webfooters and Wonderlake. The wealth of its members’ prior experience has been essential to the team’s growing success, but the ShowCal Skiers would not be where they are today without the help from the greater show ski community.
It is no secret that a show ski team takes a considerable amount of money to run, so the ShowCal Skiers reached out to teams across the country requesting donations of unused equipment to help get them on the water. The response they received was incredible and the donations started rolling in. Ted Schiafone, a ShowCal Skier, and his teammates have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the show ski community and say, "This is exactly what a new show ski team needs in order to succeed."
The team received the following donations:
· Six (6) pair show boards donated by the Muskego Water Bugs; shipping cost paid for personally by Show Director, Peter Pawinski
· Several full sets of ski lines donated by Badgerland
· Four full sets of costumes donated by Wonder Lake.
· Webfooters donated the collection from a Home Ski Show
· Corporate Sponsor, California Skier, MasterCraft Dealer, Lake Elsinore, CA
· Corporate Sponsor, Aqua Lily Pad, Canyon Lake, CA
Not only do the ShowCal Skiers have their goals set on competing in an NSSA tournament one day, they also have plans to help build more show ski teams in the western region to give back to the sport. This is what it means to share life on the water.
For more information on the ShowCal Skiers, check out www.showcalskiers.org and be sure to follow the ShowCal Skiers on Facebook to show your support and keep up with their progress!
If you’re interested in joining the ShowCal Skiers, please contact Membership Director, Mary Tortomasi, at (951)722-2010, or the Show Director, Cherie Schiafone, at (239)707-6002.