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Notre Dame revives club water ski team

| Monday, March 23, 2015

Over the past two years, Notre Dame’s water ski team had transformed into an active community for both new and experienced water skiers at the University.

Jack McMahon, senior and current president of the team, said water ski competitions consist of three events: slalom, trick and jump. Skiers receive scores for their performances and earn points for their team.

“A lot of the teams we compete against have been in existence for decades,” McMahon said. “We came onto the scene really big this year. We just barely missed advancing to the regional championships against teams who have been doing this for a really long time.”

McMahon said competitive waterskiing first came to Notre Dame in 2008. Evan Carlson, the club’s founder and a member of the class of 2010, led a small group of students to a few tournaments.

“After [Carlson] graduated, the club essentially died,” McMahon said. “It was on the chopping block with RecSports. Last year, it was just about to be completely wiped off the map when Dave Brown, assistant director of club sports, realized it was actually becoming an active team again.”

McMahon said senior Greg Moyers, president of the Water Ski Team from fall of 2013 to fall of 2014, played a large part in the revival of the sport at Notre Dame.

“Last year, we went to two tournaments and basically just regained face with RecSports,” Moyers said. “We’ve partnered with different community service organizations and done various fundraisers. Overall, we just wanted to demonstrate that we’re active and that there’s a strong core of interest.”

McMahon said the water ski team does not have a rigid practice schedule because water conditions are dependent upon the weather. In the fall and spring months, the team skis on Silver Lake, located about a half hour away from campus in Rolling Prairie, Indiana.

“Our coach, Jill Smith, is from a small town called New Carlisle, Indiana, and just happens to be one of the best female trick skiers in the world,” Moyers said. “This year, she placed second in the Women’s Over-35 World Championship. She’s played a large role in the development of our team.”

Moyers said the team ideally participates in three tournaments in the fall.

“This year, the team had 21 active competitive members,” Moyers said. “Men and women compete separately but are scored as one team. If you want to win any tournaments, you need both guys and girls that can score points.”

McMahon said the scores from the 2014 Great Lakes Conference championships are a testament to how far the Notre Dame water ski team has come.

“The Notre Dame men’s team finished eighth out of 15 teams,” McMahon said. “Notre Dame finished 10th overall. Sophomore captain Garrett Schmelling and senior Greg Moyers finished 14th and 15th, respectively, out of over 100 men’s ‘A’ skiers. Sophomore Emmie Schultz finished 12th out of 54 in the women’s slalom ski event.”

McMahon said he didn’t have any experience water-skiing before joining Notre Dame’s team.

“I’ve known Greg since we were freshmen, but I had no idea what this sport was all about,” McMahon said. “I didn’t actually water ski until the fall of this year because the weather has been so atrocious. I went to tournaments last year as a hype man. I had so much fun even just watching skiing that I jumped on board. And then this year, I landed a jump within two weeks of starting to ski, which is just so surreal.”

Moyers said his favorite part about being a member of the water ski team is getting a chance to compete for his school in the sport that he loves.

“To be able represent Notre Dame at water-skiing tournaments is something I didn’t think was going to be possible when I initially came here,” Moyers said. “That feeling of wearing my Notre Dame jersey while doing something I’m so passionate about is a really cool thing that I’m lucky to have.”

Moyers said eight members of the water ski team traveled to Louisiana over spring break to train under world-class coaches at Benet’s Ski School.

“Serious teams have been taking this spring break trip for years,” Moyers said. “Hopefully, it gave us a good kick so that we’re a really competitive team next year.”

McMahon, who will remain on the team next year as a graduate student, said he is excited about the future of the water ski team.

“Next year, we want to get to regionals,” McMahon said. “That’s our No. 1 goal. I’m hoping to set some personal bests. I also want to try to get a lot of freshmen involved. If I could get up on skis for the first time as a senior, they can, too.”

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, The Observer's former Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's an ex-Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

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