Not just a summer sport
GVSU club works year round to prepare for tournaments
Though waterskiing and wakeboarding may typically be summer sports, the co-ed Grand Valley State
University Water-ski and Wakeboard team is alive and well during the school year.
“One of my favorite parts about the ski team is that I can go to the lake and push myself every single
day to go further in my goals of waterskiing,” club president Jathan Koetje said. “That aspect is unreal
to me. How I can push myself individually, and the rush I get from skiing every single day.”
The club’s first year at gvsu was in 2006, and the team then had between 10 and 15 members. Now,
seven years later, the team has grown considerably. It has 50 members and is currently ranked 11th in
the nation. Members are hoping that ranking will go up if they make it to nationals, which are held in
San Diego, Calif., this October.
“It’s an adrenaline-based sport,” Koetje said. “I couldn’t imagine myself in another club sport because
of the adrenaline that I get from waterskiing.”
The team didn’t make it this far without putting in the effort. Members practice every day at Placid
Waters, a private lake five miles from campus that the owners have given them permission to use. The
lake was man-made just for skiing, so it’s the ideal location equipped with a course and a jump.
“We have the nicest set-up in the whole Midwest,” said financial adviser and junior Nick Olesak. “It’s
The team recently purchased its very own trailer, which serves as equipment storage mainly for the
team’s boat. Certain members of the team are certified to drive the MasterCraft 1991 ProStar
speedboat when practicing on the water.
After practicing, the skiers enjoy to show off their new skills in tournaments.
“I really like to learn a new trick at practice, then to go and get it (right) in a tournament is the best
feeling ever because you feel so accomplished,” freshman Bryan Condra said.
The club competes in three events at tournaments: slalom, trick and jump. Slalom involves one ski
with the skier weaving between buoys; the skier who completes a designated course the fastest using
the shortest amount of rope receives the most points.
Trick is done using a wakeboard or trick ski, and the skier is given 20 seconds to show off. Each trick
is worth a certain amount of points.
Finally, the jump event requires the skier to go off a 5-foot ramp, and whoever jumps the farthest
gets the most points. The top five skiers from each event have their points added up to contribute to
the team score.
Even though the waterskiing season is technically over by the end of September, club members
continue to work hard during the non-official season. They attend practice tournaments in the spring
and summer and go to the lake as frequently as they can to train.
“It’s a different type of atmosphere than any other club sport because we are in an action sport
category,” Koetje said. “You’re pushing yourself to the limits every single day and seeing yourself get
better, as well. It is individually competitive, but your team will come behind you and support you.”