University of Wisconsin - Madison Water Ski & Wakeboard Team

UW – Madison Wins USA Water Ski 2016 Collegiate Growth Contest

USA Water Ski announced the results of its 2016 Club Growth Challenges. One of the challenges was directly tailored for collegiate teams within the National Collegiate Water Ski Association and USA Wakeboard. For this challenge, USA Water Ski encouraged collegiate teams to promote membership growth and to get new members on the water. The University of Wisconsin – Madison Water Ski & Wakeboard Team won the 2016 Collegiate Challenge! The team will receive a complimentary USA Water Ski membership for 2017 and a $100 donation.

Making alumni proud

When first hearing the news, we reached out to Tyler Lorenz, UW Water Ski alum, to get the alumni perspective on the growth contest win. Tyler was very happy for his alma mater, and had the following to say on behalf of the University of Wisconsin Water Ski & Wakeboard alumni:

The UW Alumni are extremely proud of the current ski team for being recognized on their Collegiate Growth this year. The team’s success over the years has brought an influx of dedicated, creative, and talented skiers from the Madison campus that are proud to promote what they do and love. Receiving this award is a testament to the current team sharing the passion on the water and holistically growing the sport of water skiing. On Wisconsin!

How did they grow?

UW Madison - Fun at the lakeThe Wisconsin – Madison team added 28 new members according to USA Water Ski, so we reached out to the UW Water Ski & Wakeboard President, Jack Ralph, to determine what they did to pull in new members this year.

Attend the organization fairs

According to Jack, Madison’s team attends both the Spring and Fall semesters! These fairs are held in the Kohl center, and Jack said that these fairs are “one of [their] main recruitment methods.” Jack said in their organization’s booth they have” skis and really awesome videos” and many members to help answer the questions of the thousands of students that walk by their booth during the fair. According to the UW Madison website, the school has an undergraduate enrollment just shy of 30,000 students and a graduate student enrollment just shy of 9,000 students!

Get recruits early!

Jack also noted that the team sets up a table at a “central spot on campus during move in to attract Freshman.” The team strives to keep recruitment levels up which means keeping “the team young” and “bringing in new faces.”


Homecoming parades are a big thing at many of our NCWSA schools, so we suggest you try to get your team in those parades. According to Jack, the UW Madison team attended their homecoming parade for the first time ever this year. The team pulled their boat (pictured above) “down State Street in front of thousands of people.”

Unlimited access to practice

UW Madison - trick skierNot every school has a lake on campus or super close to campus, but if your campus has a lake and you are not trying 1000% to gain access or ski on it then you may be losing out on a major recruitment tool. UW Madison has lake access and Jack said that he believes that the team’s “ultimate recruiting tool is [their] almost unlimited access to practice.” For those in other regions, the state of Wisconsin has over 15,000 lakes ([1][2]) and UW Madison has the privilege of being close to two public lakes on which they pull “25+ hours of practice a week during the fall season.”

Maintain relationships with other ski teams or groups

In addition to pulling their own practice, the UW Madison team continues to “grow [their] relationship with Mad City“, a local show ski team. This relationship gives UW Madison skier at the jump dockthe UW team access to a jump for practice. Ramp time outside of a tournament is something all NCWSA teams covet, but can often be a difficult goal to achieve.

Additionally, on one of the lakes, the UW Madison team helps maintain a slalom course. With the ramp, the course, and open water the team has the ability to practice all three events right “on campus [with] no need to commute or pay pricey private lake fees.” This is ability will certainly help the team grow in both size and experience, and certainly lead to more skilled individuals to continue to make ski team alumni proud.

Minimize dues but do not ruin the team

UW Madison with Capitol BuildingUW Madison had to raise dues this year to help cover the cost of boat maintenance and repairs on their 2007 Malibu. Raising dues is always unfortunate, and teams may try to mitigate the rise through fundraising. Jack notes that the team may have “had more new skiers this year, if [they] didn’t have to raise dues”, but the dues increase was required in UW Madison’s case to maintain and fix their boat. Which as we saw in previous notes, the boat is used a lot!

Keep growing!

An NCWSA team now has won the award for the past three years it has been offered, keep growing your teams!

  • 2016 – University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • 2015 – California Polytechnic State University
  • 2014 – University of Missouri

To see the winners of the other 2016 growth contest categories, view the USA Water Ski announcement. For details about the growth contests, see the contest announcement.



Adam Koehler

Skied with the Illini Waterski Team and the Marquette Waterski Team. Past winner of the NCWSA Outstanding Leader Award. Former NCWSA Operations Committee Chair and current NCWSA Secretary.