- Associated Press - Saturday, June 16, 2018

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Hundreds of people flocked to Eagle Lake last week for the Waterhawks Ski Team’s 60th anniversary event.

Boats whizzed by the crowd towing high-flying jumpers, 3-tier pyramids and other acts as the master of ceremonies’ voice and upbeat music blared from the speakers.

“It’s like a giant family reunion because you spend so much of your time in the summers together, both practicing here at our facilities and traveling for competition out of town or out of state,” said Bob Manning, who is a past president and 25-year board member of the organization.

“It’s a family sport. All of my siblings were involved with the Waterhawks and my parents always encouraged it because it is a good, clean sport.”

Manning joined the team when he was 15 years old in the late 1960s. He learned how to ski barefoot and trick ski before becoming a state champion water skier. Trick skiing refers to a shorter, wider ski, allowing the skier to turn around and ski backward as well as other maneuvers.

Now Manning attends the weekly shows with his family, including a son and daughter who have both performed on the team in the past, as well as his 5-year-old granddaughter, Callie Heath, who is a current member and skier. She began learning how to water ski at the age of 2.

Black-and-white photos displayed from the team’s early years depicted how the sport of show skiing has evolved, including a photo of a boat pulling a human kite flyer, which is no longer allowed for safety reasons.

CJ Schmitz has been performing on the team for three years and has been waterskiing for 20 years.

“Water skiing in general … it’s like its own small world. You get to be out there and perform what you love to do and put on these great shows for people. It’s like you’re a little celebrity for that one minute and you get that joy of doing it and watching people smile,” she told The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier .

A group of 16 charter members began the ski club in September 1958 for those who were interested in promoting ski safety, boating and family fun on the water. As the team grew larger, they began hosting shows for public entertainment and later began show tournaments.

Today the Waterhawks Ski Team is an amateur sports organization that competes in regional and national competitions and has more than 100 members.

The team has qualified each year since 2004 to compete in the National Ski Show Championships Division 1 and has finished in the top 10 at many of those competitions. The team took sixth place at nationals in 2013, the highest placement in the team’s history.

Shows will continue every Friday through the summer until Aug. 26, except the weekends of July 27 and Aug. 9 for regional and national tournaments.


Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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