I have been in love with skiing since I began at age three. My granddad started water skiing in the 1950’s when he was in the Air Force. He and my grandma got my aunt, uncles and mom skiing and it was only natural that I, the first grandchild, follow suit.
We had no idea what this fun family pastime would turn into. We bought an Insta-Slalom course and continued to ski recreationally for years. In 1994, my uncle, Kevin, caught wind of the tournament scene and suggested we try Fawn Lake’s novice tournament. My granddad, uncle, mom and I all skied and all won first place in our events. We decided tournaments were pretty cool and certainly enjoyed the friendly folks we met.
For the next decade, I got more involved in tournament skiing, competing and succeeding in state, regional and national tournaments. The whole time, however, I practiced on Lake Gaston’s public water, behind the 1981 Master Craft with our not-so-accurate course. It was almost always a struggle, battling other boaters, jet skis, the wind and the six-minute wait between passes, due to bulkheads on the shoreline. Granddad was always ready to pull me for a set, though, and I was always ready to ski, since the season was the short 2.5 months of summer break.
My seasons grew longer starting in 2004, when I went off to Clemson for college. I was told, “You are not going to college for water skiing. You are going to learn.” I tried to keep some balance. I studied some, skied a little and learned how to party with the best of them. While in college, however, the best opportunity of my life came along. During the summer of 2006, four families approached me and asked if I could coach them during the 2007 season. I was elated!
Despite the pressure to get an internship and get serious about my Political Science and Philosophy degree, I coached and skied all the way through the summer of 2007 and had a ball. After graduating from Clemson in 2008, I had my summer job all lined up – coaching and skiing again!
After summer 2008, I went to work for 2 great friends, Robby and Michele, continuing to live in Virginia. After, six months of “the real world,” I realized it just was not for me – certainly not at this life stage. To me 2009 offered new possibilities and opportunities. I knew what I wanted to do – I had always known. I shook off the fear of failure and decided that I would pursue a career as a professional slalom skier and coach.
Now, 3 years later, I can say that this decision is one of the best I have ever made. I feel so fortunate to do what I love to do every day. I love the people I get to meet and the places I get to go. The 2009 season brought reasonable success. I attained my “Open Rating” and became a pro skier. I also set a new Open Men’s Eastern Regional Tournament Record and finished 5th in the U.S. Nationals in the Open Men’s division.
As the 2009 season came to a close in VA, I knew what I had to do. With no mortgage, marriage or job, I took off for sunny South Florida to ski all the way through the winter. It was the off-season I’ve always dreamed about.
I thought this bio was fairly complete and any noteworthy accomplishments I made in skiing would turn up through WaterSki Mag or elsewhere, but just as my journey to become a better skier continues, so does my unusually fortunate career path. During the 2009-2010 offseason, John Whitlock generously offered me the opportunity to run a training center on his beautiful lake in Bumpass, VA, where I had been giving limited private lessons since 2007. The success of “The Bum Pass Water Ski Club” the first year was totally surprising; the great people and amazing times were not a surprise.
Of course coaching water skiing in Virginia is seasonal but I had saved and was prepared for another winter in South Florida, when Gordon Rathbun called me and asked if I would be interested in taking the job as full time coach at Ski Paradise in Acapulco. After nearly crapping myself, I was quick to reply that I was extremely interested. Now, I have a year round career and it has afforded me the opportunity to meet great new friends, while pushing my skiing to new heights. My only hope is that I can pour back into skiing all of the joy and the gifts it has given me.