The holidays are now over, the Christmas goodies are gone, and it is time for a new semester. As college students make their way back to campus, looking back on the fun times from the holiday season provides some comfort as they take on the college grind. Although the hustle and bustle of finals took over the lives of students in December, many ski teams found time to take a breather and celebrate the holiday season with their second family—their ski family.
The Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) celebrated the season with a Christmas party. Although it is the first Christmas party they’ve thrown, team captain Taryn Grant thought it was a success. Grant said the highlight of the night was definitely the Dirty Santa gift exchange (it’s not what you think!). Each member brought a gag gift and a serious gift, and as the team opened their gifts teammates were able to steal presents from other team members. The karaoke and drum set also made an appearance, and their coach was the real MVP of the night and cooked up some classic Louisiana Gumbo (yumm!!).
Grant explained that “team members may not see everyone during a normal school week, especially after nationals”. They were able to relax and be around friends, which is “exactly what getting together with your ski family is all about”.
Texas A&M University’s Water Ski Team also had a chance to celebrate the holiday season. Rachel Gawlik, a member on the team, shared the numerous holiday activities the team takes part in throughout the month of December. Not only did the team have a Christmas Party like ULL, but it also came together with the other sport clubs on campus to take part in a parade. Gawlik explains the team decorated the boat and the sport clubs threw out candy to the local families that came out to the event. A highlight of the parade this year was courtesy of a freshman on the water ski team who started singing, and pretty soon the whole team and the people watching the parade joined in the tunes.
With a busy year under its belt, the TAMU Ski Team looks forward to the new year. Unlike many collegiate teams, the Aggies will begin its tournament season in February, and hosts its Polar Bear Tournament in March. While they enjoy the nice warm water, skiers in the north will get by snow skiing and counting down the days until the lakes thaw and get out on the lake.
Texas A&M isn’t the only team that is able to practice year round. San Diego State University has been spending time as a team out on the water out in California. Tabitha Magner, President of SDSU’s Water Ski Team, explained that the team keeps their wake boarding and water ski boats in Mission Bay and, although it gets chilly, they don wetsuits and skiing through the winter is no problem. In addition to getting out on the water, SDSU held their traditional end of season banquet at head coach Michael Theimann’s house. Magner says “it is an amazing opportunity for us all to get together and celebrate our accomplishments from the year. This year our team improved our skiing performance greatly and also successfully hosted Nationals…needless to say there was a lot to celebrate.” The nice photo they took at the banquet also proves that water skiers shower more than once a weekend and don’t just roll out of a tent every morning.
While SDSU puts on their wetsuits to hit the water, a couple of teams in the Midwest donned their snow suits and hit the slopes. A group of water skiers from Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln headed out to Colorado the first few days of the new year. The group enjoyed the fresh powder snow, and although it was cold, the boys of Nebraska kept warm with their beards. Matt Lewandowski, vice president of the Nebraska team, said one of best parts of the trip was seeing friends and alumni from multiple teams for the first time since tournament season. While it was a fun time on the slopes, the skiers cannot wait to get back on the lake and hit the big red monster instead of a frozen pile of snow.
It was a fun-filled holiday break for many teams. Students were able to de-stress from a busy fall semester and gear up for the spring semester. While some teams are able to find time out on the water even during the winter months, those who can’t still have fun in the snow. As the new semester begins, it might be terrifying to think about school work (it is for me at least), but it is exciting to think of all the new memories made with your ski family.