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ND student starts waterski club

Kaitlynn Riely | Monday, September 1, 2008

Junior Adam Carlson knows that when people think Notre Dame, they don’t usually think waterskiing. But he’s hoping the newly-formed waterski club can change that.

Waterskiing was approved as an official student group by the Student Activities Office (SAO) in August and now it is a club under RecSports, said Carlson, the group’s founder.

But there won’t be any waterskiing on Notre Dame’s campus, he said.

“That was one of the first things [RecSports] told me,” Carlson said. “‘You know this isn’t going to be on Saint Mary’s or Saint Joe’s lake.'”

Instead, Carlson and his club mates will practice at Indian Lake in Michigan, which is close to Dowagiac, Mich., where Carlson is from.

Carlson spoke to The Observer on his cell phone Sunday as he stood on a sandbar in Indian Lake. Carlson and some of his friends from Notre Dame had gone away to Carlson’s home for the weekend, and were about to go tubing and later waterskiing, Carlson said.

“I’ve been waterskiing my entire life, so I’ve always been interested in it,” he said.

Carlson’s parents are avid waterskiers, and his first time “skiing” was when he was two years old, when he sat on a platform board that carried him behind the boat.

“I don’t even remember my first time waterskiing, because I’ve been doing it for so long,” he said.

When he came to Notre Dame, Carlson noticed the University did not have a waterski team, a void that Carlson decided he wanted to fill. The several-month-long SAO club recognition process began last November, Carlson said, and ended with his club being approved in August.

Through word of mouth, the group’s Facebook page and through the RecSports Web site, Carlson said he’s contacted by several people interested in waterskiing.

Fifth-year senior Steven Feutz, the club’s captain, has 18 years of experience as a waterskier, he said. His dad, a competitive waterskier, first took him skiing at age 6, he said.

“It’s a family thing,” Feutz said. “This morning, I was actually at home skiing with my dad and my brother.”

As captain, Feutz said he’ll be coaching the other members of the team who have less experience.

“It’s a little bit hard to learn,” Feutz said. “Just like any sport, you pick it up reasonably fast, but then you spend the whole rest of your life trying to get better.”

The waterski club will start its season next Saturday, Carlson said, with a tournament in Ohio, at a lake about three hours away from Notre Dame.

Carlson has never competed in a waterski tournament before, but he’s been to several of his brother’s tournaments. On Saturday, he and other members of the Notre Dame water ski team will be competing in three events – a slalom competition, in which the skiers maneuver around buoys, a trick portion, where the skier has twenty seconds to do as many tricks as possible and a jump over a platform.

Without seeing the competition, Feutz couldn’t predict how the new Notre Dame team would do this weekend.

“I imagine this will be, more than anyone else, a learning experience for everyone,” he said.

It’s too early to tell whether Notre Dame will gain recognition for its water skiing, Feutz said.

“Florida is the waterski capital of the country, but Purdue is one of the top 10 water ski schools in the country, so if we keep developing it, we can certainly generate interest and improve our ranking,” he said.

The team will compete in at least one more tournament this year, Carlson said. The water ski club will hold a meeting for all interested skiers at 7 p.m. Wednesday in room 306 of LaFortune.