USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

      April 2023 Member Spotlight: Chuck Wesson, Charlotte, N.C.

I'm paralyzed in a wheelchair, and I have been for 10 years. I was looking for sports I could do in order to stay active. I did the Paralyzed Veterans of America Games in Florida, and they had a water ski expo. That was put on by Ann's Angels, and I did a couple of rides with them. They also had a camp through the outpatient center I went to in which we went on a weekend getaway to Alabama to water ski. I skied there, met with people from North Carolina, where I'm from, and I've been water skiing with them ever since.

Adaptive water ski athlete Chuck Wesson cutting to the jump rampI fell in love with water skiing and found I had a knack for it. My balance was pretty solid on the water, and there was no turning back once I was hooked. My favorite memory of water skiing is when I went to Norway on the USA Adaptive Water Ski Team. I did one of the furthest jumps I've ever done in a competition, and I won a bronze m

edal for it. Third place in a world tournament is pretty good. I've competed in three world championships, but I'm a member of the North Carolina Water Ski Association, so I compete in tournaments almost every weekend in June. I try to go to as many tournaments as I can, and there are about four or five of us, adaptive skiers, in the North Carolina circuit.

Anyone who goes through a severe injury feels down, but I never feel down when I'm on the water. Even if I do horrible and mess up, a bad day on the water is still a good day.

I like the water ski community. There are so many good people who want to help each other out. We all come together and spend our weeken

ds on the water, and I can't think of a better way to spend my time.

I am Chuck Wesson. I am a three-event adaptive water skier, and #WeAreWaterSki.


March 2023 Member Spotlight: Mia Hackett, Champaign, Ill.

Mia Hackett Member SpotlightMy dad and uncle grew up water skiing on the Mississippi River, and they loved it so much. I never got into it when I was little. I was more of a wakeboarder, but a couple of people on my college ski team convinced me to join. It was one of the best decisions I made.

I'm definitely not our team's strongest skier because I started pretty late. Some of my teammates started skiing when they were 2 years old. I tried all three events. I'm a terrible jumper. I've jumped twice and had some pretty bad wipeouts. I thought I could improve if I could put my eggs in the baskets of slalom and trick.

This past summer I had the privilege of doing a training session with Wade Cox, who is a former professional water skier. It was really cool. He gave me the simplest advice, and it drastically improved my skiing. Now I'm getting the mini-course consistently with room to spare, and I'm excited to try the full course for the season. I wasn't the best skier starting out, and I was getting frustrated. I would go around a buoy, and I would be mad at myself. The ski team president said, 'Mia, you need to have fun out there. All you can do is try your best.' That's one thing that's applicable outside the water. It doesn't matter if I'm not doing everything 100% perfectly. If I'm giving 100% of my effort, I should try to be positive and have fun.

For show skiing, I do pyramids. I'm at the bottom because I'm one of the older girls. It's so fun. I learned how to do a pyramid for the first time last summer. I was so excited, and I couldn't stop smiling for the next 48 hours. I was on cloud nine, and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever done. It's a unique sport, and it's a privilege to be able to water ski. It's a way to bond with other people who love water skiing, and it should bring you joy and happiness.

Realize how lucky you are, and just have fun. If you end up being a great water skier, that's awesome - but that's not the goal in my eyes.

I am Mia Hackett. I am a three-event water skier and a show skier, and #WeAreWaterSki.


February 2023 Member Spotlight: Alison McLaughlin, Malvern, Ohio

Alison McLaughlin Member SpotlightAlthough I grew up going to Lake Mohawk in Ohio on the weekends, my family couldn't even get me to try to water ski. Finally at age 10, I began combo skiing, and I loved it. By the time I was 13, I begged my parents to join our local club. It's a small team, and we do about two shows a year. When I was around 16, I got really into slalom and wakeboarding. Back Bay Marine - our local Nautique dealer - hosted many events. One of those events involved bringing Helena Kjellander in for a slalom clinic. She taught me course skills that I still use and share. That was also the day my interest sparked in tricks skiing.

Ken Meloon was the boat driver at the clinic. At the end of the clinic, his daughter, Mindy, went out for a trick run. I had never seen anything like it, I was so impressed and really wanted to learn. One of Mindy's trick skis showed up at my house two days later. It was a gift from someone I had just met, which I'll be forever grateful for. I used that ski for all four years in college when I skied for Ohio University.

Tricks was my best and favorite event thanks to Coach Mike Meek, who took me from barely turning around to a proper and consistent trick run. I even qualified for Collegiate All-Stars one year. He also taught me to jump, which I loved. I now call Lake Mohawk home, and I have a better ski family than anyone could ask for. I am still a member of the LM Ski Club, and I try to give back all I can.

I started learning swivel during COVID-19, and then this past year I climbed my first three tiers! I really could write a book about skiing and wake sports in my life because there is so much I have experienced. I recently reflected on this as I returned from watching the 2022 IWWF World Water Ski Show Tournament with my husband. I married Eric this year, and now he has an interest in expanding his skiing to show skiing. We are so excited for our next chapter of water skiing!

I am Alison McLaughlin. I am a show skier and three-event water skier, and #WeAreWaterSki.