MISHAWAKA — Jared Sharkey, 19, of Mishawaka has 10 Indiana state water skiing titles and holds three state records. He is presently ranked #1 in the state and #11 in the country in trick skiing.
"Jared has the desire," said his father, Randy. "And desire outweighs talent any day of the week."
And Jared is a very talented water skier. But all of his success didn't just happen. Jared was groomed for greatness. Randy started him on skis at the age of three.
"Just him holding me," Jared said. "Eventually he got me worked out to the back of the boat. And if you look at the pictures, you can see me crying back there. I did not like it at first. But as you can see now, I'm kind of into it."
"I wasn't sure they were going to like it," Randy said, "but I was sure hoping they were going to like it."
Besides putting Jared in the water, Randy put him in gymnastics class as well — for nearly a decade.
"That is just one thing that has tremendously helped my skiing," Jared said. "Between the flips, learning how to do them on the land, just really helps out there on the water."
Randy has been water skiing for 54 years, and is pretty accomplished in his own right. In the '70s he held the Indiana state record for trick skiing, a record Jared now holds.
"His dedication to the sport, I mean, he definitely wants to see it go on in the family," Jared said.
It's a dedication he and Jared share. The Sharkeys' house is on the St. Joseph River. Jared is in the water from 6:30 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon five or six days a week.
"When I'm out there, I will try my hardest. There's a lot of falls involved, but I'm willing to get back up again until I learn it," Jared said. "It's my life. I mean, I don't know what I'd do without it. I mean, it's all I do. I wake up and ski.”
"It's definitely better than going to the office."
"I really didn't force them to ski. I just wanted them to do that on their own," Randy said. "And they all chose to be skiers, and it's just the greatest thing in the world when mom and dad and the boys are all here in the boat."
"I always say, 'dad, why didn't you force me to do it more?'" Jared said. "But it's kind of a delicate line, because if he might have forced me to do too much, maybe I wouldn't have liked it as much as I do now. But yeah, I do wish he'd pushed me a little bit sooner."
Sooner than age 3?
Jared says he hopes to eventually turn pro, so he can earn money from competitions and coaching other skiers