Water skiing is a surface water sport where an individual is pulled behind a boat, kissing the edge of the water with water skis attached to their feet. There is only one word necessary to describe what it takes to be on the water ski team at Western Washington University and that is stoke.
Stoke is described as having the spirit of getting after it by the team president Eric Negomir.
Negomir, is the most experienced member of the team and is the last of a generation of Western’s water ski team that competed at the Division I level at the national competition.
“We want to go back to nationals, there is a chance we could build a DII championship team,” he said.
Negomir, who was recruited to Western to water ski and competed at highly competitive regional and national-level tournaments growing up, knows exactly what it takes to get to a higher level.
There are a lot of barriers to entry for water skiing unless you come from a water skiing family. When adding up the costs of a boat, water skis and finding a lake to practice on, it requires a lot. Collegiate water skiing removes some of these boundaries for those that did not grow up with the accessibility to the sport.
The water ski team thrives on bringing in people that may have never water skied or have never done so competitively. That is the case for several members on the team, including Anders Larson.
Larson grew up in Minnesota with a background playing basketball and water skiing recreationally. He describes water skiing as one of the best things you can do.
“I’ve done all kinds of sports,” Larson said. “It is definitely one of the more fun things in terms of just wanting to get out there and do it.”
Like any sport there is the potential for serious injuries, but Larson feels that those concerns are exaggerated.
“People hear about concussions or about torn ligaments,” he said. “Well, I can reference six stories from basketball where people broke legs or got really bad concussions.”
The water ski team tries to take advantage of the nice weather whenever it comes around, but they will still make do when the weather isn’t as nice.
“You just take advantage of the nice days, and on the bad days you still do it because it’s just as much fun,” Larson said.
Not every aspect of being on the water ski team is ideal. Just like any sport it takes time and effort to get to where you want to be. Being on the team demands a serious work ethic that the 10 members of this team all share.
“Waking up at 6 a.m. kind of sucks,” said Greta Hansen, who joined the water ski team last fall.
The water ski team has an unorthodox schedule at times, which can require waking up early to practice. They do this to make sure anyone that wants to be on the team can practice.
There are many challenges a first-time water skier may face. For Hansen, the hardest part was just getting up on the water.
“Getting up is definitely the hardest part and then once you get up you understand the feeling of how you are supposed to get up,” Hansen said.
Hansen wasn’t looking to water ski when she first came to Western, but after recognizing the president and vice president at the club fair, she decided to join.
“Eric and Ben were just skating around and causing what looked like havoc, and I thought water skiing looks like fun, I haven't joined a club so let's do it,”' she said.
The water ski team competes during the fall and spring quarters, but the team is anticipating being active for the summer quarter as well.
The water ski team is hosting a “try-it-out day” Sunday, April 17. From 2-5 p.m. for those who are considering joining the team.
Travis Zumwalt (he/him) is a sports and recreation reporter at The Front. He is pursuing a journalism degree focusing in public relations. Outside of journalism, he enjoys watching sports, and spending time with his family and friends. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.