Yesterday we announced the Female Outstanding Leader of the Year award nominees. We continue our nominee announcements today with the 2016 nominees for Male Outstanding Leader of the Year and wow all these guys are amazing, hats off to all the nominees!
- School: The Ohio State University
- Year in school: 4th year
As president of the OSU Waterski Team Ben Brannan has been workhorse of the team in all facets. As a skier, Ben blossomed into one of our best 3 event skiers. Coming into college he was merely a slalom skier, but he has put the time in and become a 1000 point trick skier and an 80 foot jumper which allowed him to podium at Regionals! Ben also anchors the team administratively. He makes sure the team is ready to go for all of the tournaments, makes travel plans, leads fundraising efforts, and handles anything that may come up. Possibly the most illustrative thing Ben has done is put in time for the team working on the 1993 Malibu Echelon the team owns. Ben worked to make sure the team had a boat to practice behind at least 6 hours a week. He also drives the boat and coaches.
Ben has been a do-it-all kind of leader and has exemplified what all leaders should strive for. He leads by example and ensures that the team is in good spirits, having fun, and practicing hard. You could not possibly ask anything more of a President, coach, or teammate.
- School: Florida Southern College
- Year in school: Senior
Brett Walker has a lot on his plate, but he is able to manage his time in such a way that he does not seem too spread thin. He not only looks out for his own team by doing both administrative tasks and grunt work, but he also communicates with other teams in order to provide a cohesive environment in collegiate skiing. Brett does all of this without seeking attention. Even though he is entirely deserving of this award, he would be completely surprised and extremely honored.
Brett Walker and I started at Florida Southern together in 2013, and as we both prepare to graduate this May, I can honestly say that there is no one I’ll miss more. As the current FSC team captain, Brett took over for KC Wilson. Brett undoubtedly had very big shoes to fill, but he not only delivered what the position demanded of him, he excelled, just as Brett does with everything in his life. I could tell you all about Brett’s skiing abilities, or how he organized team workouts with a strength coach (and showed up to every 5:45 a.m. workout with a smile). Or I could tell you about how Brett is responsible for launching and pulling the team boat every week. But what makes Brett worthy of the title NCWSA Male Leader of the Year is how he inspires me and the team as students, not only as athletes.
If you thought running 38 was hard, try scoring the highest mark on the American Chemical Society’s Organic Chemistry exam in Florida Southern College history. (Hint: Brett has done both). I can not name a more dedicated student than Brett Walker. On a Friday or Saturday night, Brett can be found with his nose in one of the many Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry textbooks. It is not uncommon for Brett to show up to a 5:45 a.m. workout after having already been studying since 2 a.m. and then he goes and swerves his way into 39.5 off in between classes. On top of all of his talents, his hard work, and his sleep deprivation, Brett is a constant and unfailing light in my life, and the life of anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him. If you have had the pleasure of meeting him, chances are he forgot your name at first. He is awful at remembering names, but it’s his only fault. It took him about a week to remember mine, and I skied with him every day! But, even though he may be quick to forget names, he never forgets the duty he has to his teammates, and no one could ever forget Brett’s infectious spirit and magnetic personality. In everything he does, Brett has made me a better student, a better skier, and a better person. He is Florida Southern’s Male Leader of All-Time, and he deserves to be the NCWSA Male Leader of the Year.
- School: Grand Valley State University
- Year in school: Junior
Bryan is a natural leader, good natured, and fun to be around. He is constantly making sure his team is ready for the day, encouraging team spirit, leading chants, and volunteering to help around the tournament site. As a sophomore he was already an important part of the leadership board at Grand Valley State University, and this past year joined the Great Lakes Conference Board on top of his responsibilities with the team and his academics. Bryan selflessly dedicates his time and energy to collegiate water skiing and promotes camaraderie within his team and across multiple teams. You may remember him leading the majority of the “Are you a Laker” chants at 2016 NCWSA Nationals. Bryan is unbelievably committed and responsible with every leadership position that he has been in. Conference dues collection and eligibility letters went much smoother this year, and it was in large part due to Bryan’s preparation, organization, and awesome color coding!
- School: University of Georgia
- Year in school: Senior
Cole joined the University of Georgia team as a freshman, and like most people only free skied behind an outboard boat up to that point in his life. While he has finally started to run the slalom course, he has been able to jump well enough to make All Stars for 3 years. UGA’s team was just hanging on when he joined. Cole began to become frustrated at the lack of a team practice site, lack of leadership, and lack of school funding. When Cole took over as a team leader he was determined to turn things around. Since then he has searched out alumni and lake owners to find practice sites, and University of Georgia now has 2 slalom practice sites and 1 jump site! The team has grown from 3 to 5 skiers at the tournament to 10 to 15 skiers this year, and went from a casual tournament going team to a team hosting a tournament. Cole applied for every dollar that was available at UGA for team funding, and then when that wasn’t enough he appealed to the funding level and got more. This year they saw a chance to attend Nationals and only lost the 5th spot by a few points to Auburn. All the teams wanted UGA to make Nationals (even Auburn) because Cole had done so much with the team and felt he deserved it in his Senior year. Cole is very well bonded with the other teams in the Eastern region, so he still attended Nationals and stayed with the other teams from the East.
On top of all his feats for UGA, Cole went on to help with the Conference and gained a seat on the board. Cole arranged the Conference Mid-Winter meeting to be hosted at University of Georgia and provided many with housing that weekend. That weekend in an ultimate consideration for the future of his team, to the amazement of many, Cole pulled his name from Board elections so that a spot would go to his teammate instead of him and the Clemson team would continue to remain involved and be represented after his graduation.
- School: University of Alabama
- Year in school: Senior
Dason Maloney is truly the best leader that the Alabama program has seen in a long time. He never hesitates to take the time to do what needs to be done for the team whether that may be mowing grass out at the site, or organizing a weekend for a recruit the team has coming into town. Without a single word, if SkiBama needs something done, Dason (affectionately known as Dasò) will take care of it. This extends far beyond just the Alabama team, as he always makes an effort to accommodate our fellow Southern Atlantic Conference competitors too.
The Alabama team is the largest it has ever been in recent history – this year we have 35 active members. When a team has this many students from different backgrounds and skill levels, there are bound to be factions within the team. However, Dason has made the ultimate effort to keep the team as closely bonded as possible. Our success this year and the friendships that will come out of it are no doubt due to his skill and efforts in this regard. In total, Dason is the reason that the Alabama Water Ski Team is the greatest that it has been in a very long time.
- School: Clemson University
- Year in school: Senior with pending victory lap
Glenn is the President of the Clemson Water Ski Team, and has led their water ski team from competing for D2 at Nationals to competing in D1! He has taken it upon himself to recruit more people, and has put in a lot of effort with not as many resources as many teams. Glen is a great guy who is also a board member for our region; so he is very involved with not just his team, but most teams in the Eastern region.
Glenn planned a wonderful recruitment weekend for junior and senior high school students in November 2016. He went out of his way as President to make it a weekend event, and not just a day event to help the students really get to know the team and the University. Clemson is not a school that has funds for recruiting skiers, but the team paid for most everything for the weekend. The prospective skiers were treated to an amazing campus tour with approximately 6 team members present, a cookout, a stand-up comedy show, a football game, a pizza party, and a goodbye breakfast on Sunday morning. Although some recruits, such as my son, will likely be a B team skier, but that does not matter. Glenn and the team truly portrayed that they love the sport, want people who love to ski, and people who want to grow the sport. On an individual note, it is the first time in 17 years of my son’s life and 12 years with USA Water Ski that someone has specially said “Hey, we want you to ski with us” and that was truly special. Water skiing can be such an individual sport at times because of the few private lakes with courses in our area, and Glenn and the Clemson team went above and beyond to show off the team aspects of the NCWSA. Glenn has truly gone above and beyond!
Joe McIntyre & Matt Kienbaum
- School: Western Washington University
- Year in school: Senior & Senior
Matt: Rarely do you have a student entering college with the organizational skills and drive to take on the improvement of a team that is on the edge of collapse. This involved re-organizing, getting people together and recruiting new skiers. This past year Matt Kienbaum was elected president of the Western Washington University Water Ski Team where he has proven to be an amazing leader. As the President of the ski team he organized their trips to the regional and National tournaments, where in 2015 WWU won the D2 nationals and this year placed 2nd with only three returning skiers. He was the tournament director for the 2016 collegiate All-Star tournament at Borderline Lake and the 2016 Western regional collegiate tournament at Tate Lake. Matt is the driving force behind the fundraising for the WWU ski team. The team has raised over $10,000 under his leadership. Besides all the duties he has performed for the ski team, this past spring Matt graduated with a degree in operations management from WWU at the young age of 20. This fall he returned to further his education and get a minor in economics. In addition to what has already been stated, Matt is currently in the process of getting corporate scholarships for students on the ski team. Matt is a respectable leader intimately aware of rules and regulations and truly helpful for the teams success as he is welcoming to both new and old members! Matt’s legacy will continue to support and strengthen WWU’s water ski team for many years to come.
Joe: This year Joe took over being President, and every tournament WWU hosts is always a skier’s favorite of the season. Joe sacrifices a lot of time and effort just to be a good tournament host. Beyond playing host, it is difficult to pick one thing that distinguishes him as a great leader because there are so many reasons. On and off the water he is devoted to making his team the best that it can be. Whether it is creating new platforms for team advertising, going on extra clean up trips to the lake, or teaching future leadership the do’s and don’ts of running the team Joe’s support is unwavering. He emanates enthusiasm and encouragement not only his teammates, but to every skier he sees at a tournament. He is always the one celebrating a teammate’s PB, cheering on a skier before their set, or consoling someone who did not perform as well as they wanted to. Joe leads by example, and the team would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for him.
- School: University of California, Los Angeles
- Year in school: Junior
Joey really went all out this season and devoted his life to helping grow the sport on the UCLA campus as well as helping other campuses introduce this awesome sport. He always came to the lake with a positive attitude, and helped anyone that was in need. Despite being new to the sport, he went out of his way to help anyone that wanted it. He has been a great asset to this collegiate waterskiing, and has helped spread about this sport we all love through kindness and inclusion.