Water ski team stays afloat at nationals
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, November 1, 2013 01:11
The Miami University Club Water Ski team showcased their skill and spirit by winning eighth place and an award for the most spirited team at the 35th Collegiate Water Ski National Championship.
“I’m surprised we didn’t drown him,” senior Emily Van Treese said of the team’s excitement when fellow teammate senior Drew Hathaway jumped 102 feet in the men’s jump event at the 2013 National Championship held Oct. 17 to Oct. 20 in El Centro, Calif.
Hathaway joins the ‘Century Club’ that is reserved for skiers who are able to jump at least 100 feet. It was a goal he had been working towards since the end of his first season on Miami’s Club Water Ski team.
The team waited anxiously on shore while Hathaway, the last skier of the final day, landed before rushing into the water to congratulate him. His jump helped the team secure eighth place, an improvement from last year’s 10th place finish.
Instead of bragging about his achievement, Hathaway chose to brag about his team. He said the entire trip to nationals this season was a highlight because he spent time with his best friends and his biggest supporters, his teammates.
“Everyone on the team is very close,” Hathaway said.
Close and encouraging, said women’s captain Van Treese, who had not experienced the team aspect of waterskiing before joining MU’s club team.
“Even if I don’t have my best day skiing,” Van Treese said. “There’s always someone to cheer on.”
Cheering reached another level this season for MU water skiers. They earned the Spirit Award, an award given to the team that shows the most motivation and team spirit throughout a tournament, at regionals and nationals.
“Finding out we got the Spirit Award on top of everything was pretty incredible,” Adam Bobay, MU water ski fundraising chair said.
According to Bobay, there is a friendly rival between Miami and University of Cincinnati (UC) for the Spirit Award. Miami’s sweep of the Spirit Award at regionals and nationals signaled the RedHawks’ triumph over the Bearcats.
Miami beat UC with spirit and skill. The RedHawks scored higher than the Bearcats in all four of the events at nationals and placed 3 spots above the UC water skiers in the final results.
The 11-seed Miami team competed in Division I against 11 universities, some that give out water ski scholarships, Van Treese said. Out of 12 teams, Miami placed eighth, two spots higher than last year.
“At nationals, we topped it, which I didn’t think could happen,” Bobay said about the team’s improvement from last season’s nationals.
The team competes in three events: slalom, jump, and trick.
For slalom, there is a course and the skier get points for number of buoys cleared, speed, and length of the rope pulling the skier through the water.
For jump events, skiers glide off a ramp in the water and the winner is the skier who lands the farthest.
Trick events involve the skier performing a series of tricks with pre-determined point values in a 20-second run on the water.
Trick skiing is the most difficult to judge, according to faculty advisor and international water ski judge, Lawrence Downes.
“Trick events require a lot of work [to judge],” Downes said, “because you have to decide what the trick was, if it’s done correctly, and if they get the points in a matter of seconds.”
Downes has been the advisor for Miami’s club water ski team since its inception in the 1980’s. In his opinion, this season is an improvement from last season due largely to Van Treese, a third-generation water skier.
Van Treese has no shortage of accomplishments, including a tenth place finish out of 58 competitors in the women’s trick event at nationals, according to USA Water Ski’s website. She placed first in the event at the Great Lakes Conference where Miami ranks third out of 18 teams.
According to the Ohio Water Ski Association’s website, Van Treese’s score in the Women’s Trick event at the conference ranked second in the nation at the time.
MU’s club water ski team caught national attention this season with an unheard of tie with Cincinnati at the Ball State Fling tournament, said Downes. UC’s combined team scores for slalom and trick events topped Miami’s, while Miami’s combined team score in jump was greater than UC’s, resulting in a tie.