Quack: (n) 1. The harsh, throaty cry of a duck or any similar sound. 2. Charlatan.
-According to Dictionary.com
Do you know the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the utterance of this onomatopoeia? The University of Dayton’s Waterski Team. No, this great group of people is not, by any means, going around pretending to be doctors as the second denotation of this word may suggest. There isn’t one member on the team that is a duck farmer, either. Actually, this word is what we chant while cheering each other on during the collegiate weekend tournaments. Yep—you guessed it. We proudly don the duck as the mascot of the UD Waterski Team.
I know exactly what you’re thinking—“UD has a waterski team??” Yes. In fact, we do. The waterski club team was born about 12 years ago by three university students who had a passion for water sports and wanted to share this with their peers. Actually, one of the co-presidents has literally inherited his love for the team; George Cressy is the younger cousin of one of the students responsible for making it an official club sport at UD.
So a special thank you to Jim Cressy for putting in all the hard work of originally organizing this club, which “is one of the best things you can ever do in your life,” according to fellow co-president Jessica Harrigan’s testament. Along with accumulating years, our team has grown in skill and number since its beginning over a decade ago. Most recently, we have added a South American Champion skier, a sophomore international student named Michael Woodman. But, more important than anything, the love of the sport has grown over the years through the members of this tight-knit skiing community, as well as our love for one another. I’m probably embarrassing Jesse by including this, but our co-president (Jesse) and social chair (Jack Klass) literally found love through their years with the Dayton Waterski Team and are engaged to be married next September! But overall, the experience of being part of this unique club team has been described as “awesome”, “superb”, and “pretty darn great”.
So you’re probably wondering what exactly we do at these tournaments besides make great friendships and get to hang out at a lake all weekend. Being my first year on the team, I am by no means an expert on the happenings of tournaments, but with a little help from George and Jesse, I hope to be able to give a pretty accurate description. So here are the basic need-to-knows:
- There are three events: slalom, trick, and jump. You get two attempts to “get up” for each event.
- Slalom— Scoring depends on the speed of the boat, the length of the ski rope, and how many buoys you are able to go around consecutively. First, you must make it through the “gates”—two buoys located at the beginning of the course (which always happens to be my downfall). After the gates you must zigzag around six buoys and then make it through another set of gates at the end of the course. A skier receives more points for making it around all six buoys, even at a lower boat speed.
- Trick— Certain tricks are performed on trick skis (short and fat skis without fins which equal super-squirrelly skiing) or a wakeboard. Each trick is assigned a certain number of points.
- Jump— In the words of George Cressy: “It’s a distance thing, in feet.” So, you strap on some huge jump skis, a helmet (don’t worry moms and dads), a cushioned jump suit, and some gloves. You pick what speed you’d like and before you know it, you’re headed at a 5-foot tall ramp. Now how do you land a jump? Jesse’s key piece of advice: “Knees, Trees, Freeze.” This translates to bending your knees, looking up at the trees in the distance, and freezing your posture. Then, hope for the best. The best part about jump, in my opinion, is sitting lakeside and watching the really great skiers hit distances in the 140 foot range and also watching the newbies have some pretty epic crashes into the water.
NOTE: NO SKIERS WERE HURT DURING THE RESEARCH FOR THIS ARTICLE
Below is a video of one our co- presidents, Jesse Harrigan, jumping in our first tournament of the year:
Video provided by Jessica Harrigan
But the best part of the tournaments as a whole? No one is critical of how skilled you are as a skier. In fact, at some of the tournaments a few people got up on two skis for the first time in their lives. I think Jesse phrased it best when she said, “Everyone just wants to help each other do their best.” This camaraderie really makes the waterski tournaments a great time to be had by all.
Basically, as George described, we are “an organization devoted to having fun while skiing, not necessarily winning competitions.” So, if you’re a UD student, step out of your comfort zone and try something a little different and extremely fun. I’m sure if you have any questions, George and Jesse would be more than happy to answer them. And all those not enrolled at Dayton, come out and support your local waterski team or start a club of your own! Who knows? You might even be lucky enough to find your fiancé, but one thing is for certain—you’ll eat more than enough $0.88/pack hotdogs to last you a lifetime and you’ll have a blast while doing it.
But as for finding the love of your life—Jesse and Jack may just be “lucky ducks”. Now that’s a knee-slapper.