USA-WSWS Executive Director Nate Boudreaux (right) with Terris Tiller, USOPC's manager of diversity, equity & inclusion.
USA Water Ski & Wake Sports is pleased to announce it is the recipient of a 2022 NGB DE&I Choice Award from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. USA Water & Wake Sports’ submission of the DE&I initiative – “Get on the Water Learn to Ski” – received the most votes among National Governing Body representatives for the under-$10 million annual revenue category. The award, which recognizes excellence in diversity, equity and inclusion, was presented at the TEAMS ’22 Conference, Oct. 24-27, in Oklahoma City, Okla. In addition to an award, the program will receive a $5,000 grant from the USOPC to help support the initiative.
The goal of the program is to introduce the sport to a new audience and increase participation and retention of African American, Native American and Hispanic girls in the sport of water skiing. While the sport of water skiing is a popular recreational summer activity, USA Water Ski & Wake Sports recognizes that financial limitations often create a barrier for many to participate in towed water sports. USA Water Ski & Wake Sports wanted to create a program to help introduce the sport of water skiing to a new demographic and make it more accessible to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate.
Through a partnership with Sports 4 Life, ESPNW, and the Women’s Sports Foundation, USA Water Ski & Wake Sports created the Get on the Water Learn to Ski program. The free summer initiative included 32 girls from a pair of Girls, Inc. chapters in Central Florida who enrolled in the program, which was hosted this past June and July and totaled five, 2-hour sessions with two USA Water Ski & Wake Sports local ski clubs - Central Florida Show Ski Team (Lakeland, Fla.) and Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team (Winter Haven, Fla.).
USA Water Ski & Wake Sports provided water ski instruction and practice, both on dry land and behind the boat, including all necessary equipment, at no cost to the girls participating. None of the girls in the program had ever attempted to water ski before, but by the second week, every girl had successfully gotten up on two skis. Many of the girls are now permanently involved with the local ski clubs as members.