Peace, Love & Waterskiing

Archive for June, 2011


Ski Nuts and Friends,

As I type this newsletter from the dock, the water is glassy, the boats are in the lift, the sun is high but on it’s way down and everything is quiet.  Well there is a bullfrog somewhere near by and my dog, Sparta, is doing her best to chomp some of Virginia’s flies out of the air.  I decided to take the day off today and recharge my batteries a bit.  It has been beautiful and was just what I needed.

The hectic “offseason” in Acapulco slammed straight into the start of the summer season in Virginia.  When I came home I found a seemingly endless list of tasks that I needed to accomplish to make this summer even better than last (which will be quite the task) and I felt like I was on a treadmill that was stuck on high.  Without the help of Heather Miller and Paul O’Hara, I’m not quite sure how I would have gotten everything here off to a successful start.  After a great Memorial Day weekend, filled with mostly new yet some familiar faces, I was exhausted!  So today I hopped off of that treadmill to catch my breath.  The downtime has been quite refreshing and I am now feeling more prepared to charge into the summer season.  I have decided to embrace the fact that this coming week will be slightly quiet around here, while kids are wrapping up their school year and taking exams.  The portions of idle time will be just enough for me to dot my I’s and cross my T’s before the summer of 2011 explodes into a massive water ski party!

The weather is letting us know that summer is here and there’s no better place to be than in or on a lake!  Furthermore, I truly prefer sharing all of this beauty than enjoying it alone.  One of my favorite sites around here is idling to the end of the lake to the end of the lake with an eager skier on the platform and noticing behind them a dock full of people hanging out together, relaxing, sharing stories and enjoying life.  This scene only adds to the natural beauty that surrounds the dock and the 20 little balls in the lake.

Yes, I am feeling a renewed sense of confidence that this is going to be the best summer yet in Bumpass and I want to share it with as many people as possible.  I am reminded of the mission of this water ski club, which is as much about Peace and Love as it is about Waterskiing.  Right now the peace and tranquility is powerful but I need all of you to share the love and the water skiing.  We are a broad community and a great one.  I am proud to call this place our headquarters.  On that note, I would just like to thank the Whitlock family for allowing us to gather here and have some of the best times of our lives at their private slice of paradise.  Now let’s all embrace the joy of the summer season and, together, make 2011 one to remember!

Now a few logistics… I will be traveling out of town for a tournament on Friday morning.  Paul will be celebrating his high school graduation this Saturday (congrats Paul we thought you’d never make it. LOL).  Thus, the Bum Pass Water Ski Club will be closed for the weekend.  However, there is still time to get your ski fix in this week.  I have openings tomorrow between noon and 2:30pm and from dawn until 4pm on Thursday.   I am also prepared to accept bookings for next week beginning on Monday and going through the weekend.  Reserve your time now, as the youngsters will be ditching their books and grabbing their skis PRONTO!

Peace, Love & Waterskiing,


P.S. I’m not sure if I should congratulate or admonish Taylor and Maddie Miller, who both chose studying over skiing this weekend.  All I can say is that’s more dedication to academics than I could have mustered.   Also, Maddie graduates from the 8th grade tomorrow.  It’s going to be a big occasion, as it may be her last graduation… We’re not sure she has what it takes to make it ALL THE WAY through high school.



The Lost and Retyped Acapulco Wrap-up

Amigos y Amigas,

We’ll call this take two for the Acapulco newsletter (1 of 2).  I really don’t know what happened to that email because nobody got it and I couldn’t locate it anywere!  Anyway, I’ll try to recapture its essence and highlights.

It was a busy busy season in Acapulco and so much happened since my last newsletter that I stand no chance in recapturing all of it.  Thus, I will limit my focus to the fantastic final week at Ski Paradise and share some information on what is in store for the future of Ski Paradise Acapulco.

After a long season, it would be easy to let the last week wind down slowly to end another great chapter in Ski Paradise’s strong 22 year history.  However, Gordon, is far too wise to let this happen.  Instead, he brought in veteran guest coaches Bob Hardeman and Scott Rabeneau to end the year with an exclamation point.  Bob and Scott have been deeply involved with all aspects of skiing (judging, driving, coaching and ski testing) since homo sapiens took over skiing from homo erectus.  More than their extensive knowledge of skiing, however, these two guys are a two-man comedy team.  I seriously believe that they could go on tour and leave audiences anywhere clenching their sides with laughter.

The coach-student relationship on and off the water is paramount in a sport like waterskiing in which confidence is so critical.  Between Scott’s unrelenting quick wit and Bob coming to the dinner table dressed in drag (posing as Gabriella while Gordon and Gabriella went on a date), any insecurities that the guests had went out the window.  I would say it put everyone at ease but the sight of Bob in a dress was anything but soothing.  I’ll also say that there were a couple of “firsts” at the dinner table that night and just leave it at that.

The dynamic duo were also effective on the water and produced numerous personal bests.  Bob Hardeman also effected the most radical change I’ve ever seen by a coach anywhere.  Imagine being a recreational skier for the better part of 20 years only to travel to Ski Paradise and have a coach tell you that he thinks you might ski better if you switched your stance from Left to Right foot forward.  I think I would flat out refuse and ask for a new coach.  Wade Holbrook, who is about as laid back as they come, took this challenge in stride.  To everyone’s amazement (especially mine), the switched stance WORKED!  As a right foot forward skier, Wade’s body position and form improved immediately.  Wade’s son, Dagan, also tried the switch and experienced similar improvement.  I can honestly say that I would never have dreamed of asking a student to make this transition and am still blown away by Wade and Dagan’s success.  They both came to Acapulco as lefties and left as righties, ready to ski through the summer and improve upon their newfound form.  I am not saying that this advice is for everyone nor can I exactly explain why this worked for them.  However, it was a great reminder to always be thinking outside the box.  In a sport with so many variables, experimenting with new ideas is almost always beneficial.

In the race to improve, we often times box ourselves in and create our own limitations.  It takes courage to try new things but most of the time, coloring outside of the lines helps us learn.  In this case, Bob, Wade and Dagan colored right off the page and it paid off.  If it didn’t work out, the skiers could have easily gone back to their left foot forward and at least would have had a story about some crazy coach.  The lesson learned is simply not to be afraid of trying new things, even if they seem outrageous.  You just never know what change, simple or significant, may make you a whole new skier.

As the year went out with a bang, it reminded me of why I love what I do.  The skiing was great and the company was greater still.  I met some fellow east-coast tribesman, Marc and Rachell, who I plan to see later in the summer in New York and got to hang out with Virginia friends, Rob and Michele Sterne, who always remind me that Acapulco really is my second home now.

So what is to come from the world’s number one water ski vacation destination next year?  Well, in fact, there will now be two top destinations.  Ski Paradise is expanding and will be opening a luxury water ski getaway in Puerto Escondito.  PE is straight down the coast from Acapulco and from what I’ve heard, it’s a totally groovy city.  Where Acapulco is loud, flashy and touristy, Puerto Escondito is quaint, quiet and more remote.  After kick starting the season for three weeks in Acapulco, Gordon and Gabriella will be moving down to PE to host water skiers from across the globe.

So what does this mean for Ski Paradise Acapulco? It means the same great vacation that has kept skiers coming back year after year, only I’ll be the one there to show everyone a great time and make sure the fun never stops.  After this past season, I know the ropes and feel prepared to make next year one of the very best.  Of course, I’ll have to start collecting jokes for the dinner table.  Well, either that or get Scott and Bob to come down a bit more to “perform.”

That’s the word on Acapulco.  Now I need to shift gears and focus on my personal ski paradise – the one that is entering full swing in Bumpass!



P.S. I forgot how I worked it in in the original newsletter but the final group at ski paradise took one of the best group photos of the year.  I’ve attached it to this email to show everyone that Acapulco is safer than the American media would have you believe.  The police are the good guys and they are on our side, as this picture clearly shows.

P.P.S  For those of you who came to Acapulco and visited the Marsh Children’s Home, we had a terrific party with them on the last Friday.  I had been leading guests there all year, bringing ice cream and tortillas to the kids.  Since that fun would be ending, we thought it best to have a blowout for the final Friday.  With many thanks to Dan, we were able to organize a DJ, 2 pinatas, and a boat load of tamales for the kids.  We had a blast dancing on the beach with the kids and the piñatas were literally a hit.