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Michigan State Waterski helps bridge NCWSA with AWSA, with focus on development
June 3rd-4th, 2017, the Michigan State University Water Ski Team hosted the annual Spartan Buoy Bash in St. Charles, MI. This event, while AWSA, has a large collegiate turn out. Inviting college athletes, ski veterans, and youth, all come together for a great event. Alex Clark, MSU Men’s Captain, tells us all about it after being a lead coordinator for the tournament.
How do AWSA and NCWSA work together to put together/run buoy bash?
The combination of experienced officials and young energetic personnel is a tournament design that is seldom explored in AWSA. As a collegiate skier, it is always a blessing to have such practiced officials volunteer their time. It is a whole different game, however, when you get to see your chief driver fall around one ball on his opener. It’s always fun to watch your mentors ski (and sometimes screw up) and support them as they have supported you during collegiate events. I don’t care who you are, everyone deserves and appreciates a pat on the back.
Do you think buoy bash helps bridge the gap in AWSA and NCWSA athletes?
I have received compliments from the officials as well as seasoned veterans in our sport regarding the organization of buoy bash. It is a rare thing to have legitimate tournament that is focused first on growing the sport. In my conversations with these “seasoned veterans,” they encourage me to train younger skiers on what it takes to put together a proper tournament. I agree, and I plan to help wherever I can, but I think the gap needs to be bridged by these AWSA veterans. It is easy to do what you’ve always done, but you’ll be surprised how humbled your local collegiate skier will feel when you offer to take them under your wing for a tournament or two. (Collegiate skiers, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as well! In my experience, tournament directors do NOT say no to a helping hand).
What makes this event different than regular NCWSA events?
The event is different than regular NCWSA events because it is an AWSA event. There is no A or B team, and it is not just college kids. Everyone competes against each other, and every competitor is invaluable. It is a motivating and exciting experience to get shown up by a 10 year old. (Shout out to Reid Meinhardt for beating everyone in trick by at least 1000 points).
What makes this event different than regular AWSA events?
This event is different than most AWSA events because of the laid-back and fun atmosphere. This is the nature of the event for two reasons. The first being the timing of the event. Even the top skiers focus on enjoying themselves over posting big scores. No one expects a top performance out of the first tournament of the summer. The second is the encouragement of encouragement. A comfortable and fun environment is constructed as a result of exuded support. It is a competition, and should be treated as such, but all it takes for you to feel on top of the world is for one person to share your excitement when you ski well.
How do you focus on development at this event?
Giving proper attention to developing skiers is always a challenge. In order for a new skier to return to your tournament it needs to be cheap, laid-back, and they need to get the opportunity to ski a lot. If you’re going to your first tournament, and you pay 50 bucks to fall around 1 ball, you’re probably not going to ski that tournament again. So first things first, buoy bash allowed a 4 pass minimum for novice skiers, which is a familiar structure for AWSA. Also, since our gracious hosts, the Sugdens, allowed camping onsite, we were able to run practice sets Friday night, and a slalom clinic all day Sunday. This made the trip worth it for developing skiers, whether they stayed the entire weekend or not was up to them, but the options were available.
What’s your favorite part of this event?
My favorite part of the event is the opportunity for developing skiers to ski themselves into the ground. It is a rare opportunity for college skiers to get 5+ sets at one of the nicest sites in the state.
How did it go?
I think the most important result is that we had 12 people ski their first AWSA event. Quality of individual performances are always relative to the individual. It was a success if these debuting AWSA skiers continue to compete at summer tournaments. The one result I will share is that the young balls beat the old ball in balls and jugs, and don’t forget that one.
How does this benefit both NCWSA and AWSA?
I think it is up to veterans of AWSA to acknowledge the state of our sport. There is always talk about how 3 event water skiing is dying and that we need to do something extraordinary to bring it back to the spotlight. I love the Flow Point videos, and the live streaming of events, and I think that stuff is great. I also believe it’s the little things that go the furthest. It is very obvious that there are two age groups in particular that are passionate about life on the water. There’s the 45+ age group of skiers who lived the 3 event glory days, and then there’s an even larger group of collegiate skiers who eat, breathe, and live life on the water. I think people will be surprised to see just how far a friendly and welcoming attitude will go. We already have an overwhelming group of young, passionate skiers. The next step is for the veterans to show them that water skiing is something you can be passionate about for the rest of your life.
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