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How to Bring College Waterski Teams Together and Provide Them With the Resources They Need


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"I am taking action now to team up with Real Frequency to provide high school and collegiate waterskiers the help they deserve. It's really exciting, to say the least, and a big thank you to Jon Horton and BallOfSpray for spreading the love and getting it out there. Thanks, everyone!" - Chris Parrish

CTTP Video Link

Collegiate Waterski Teams are the foundation for the future of our sport. They are a key recruiting arm for our sport; they can help instill the love of the sport in their members, and they can help create a network effect that can expand the sport across a younger demographic needed to solidify waterskiing's future.

Despite their importance, college waterski clubs and teams often struggle with limited resources, technical coaching, and cross-club support. As a result, many of these teams fall short of their potential for recruiting and retaining members. This phenomenon is not the fault of any one organization, but I strongly believe that it is our collective responsibility to take action.

Challenge 01: Fundraising

One obvious solution for these clubs would be more money, but fundraising is no walk in the park. For many of these team leaders, finding funding is a constant uphill battle that can lead to frustration and burnout. In spite of their efforts, the sad truth is that many teams are left grappling with financial woes due to the difficulty of raising funds. The result? An environment that stifles potential and leaves young athletes struggling to keep their team on the course (literally). I believe that we can take steps to make fundraising easier for these programs.

Challenge 02: Access to Coaching

Some ski teams have outstanding, ever-present coaching, while some don't. I'd like to help supplement access to coaching for clubs, regardless of their situation. This would be most beneficial for teams that operate with limited coaching. With technology and video as key assets, the ability to share and receive feedback on ski runs would benefit skiers greatly. I believe that if we can provide skiers with a platform that allows them to share videos and receive feedback from others, everyone would benefit from the analysis of those videos by professionals.

Challenge 03: Lack of Coordinated Cross-Club Support

Running a college waterski club and team is not easy. There is a lot of work involved, and our team leaders at the college level are doing their best to push their clubs forward. I think each of these teams has special ways of tackling issues that other clubs can benefit from. What they need is a widely-used communication portal so they can share information and ideas, and communicate seamlessly. In summary, less operating in a vacuum and more universal problem-solving.

Okay, so now what?

I am not here to rant and kick rocks. Instead, I want to offer a solution. I want to present a solution to my fellow waterskiers. That's why I am partnering with my friends at Real Frequency to help me assist with college waterskiing. Real Frequency's mission is to help young adults create and execute their flight plans for life. Because of their background and expertise, I thought they'd be a great partner in helping me launch a college waterskiing support community that would not only bring college ski teams together but also assist them with some of the challenges they face. They exceeded my expectations. I'm stoked.

CTTP: Chris the Tower Portal

The target audience for Chris the Tower Portal is high school students and college waterskiers and those interested in becoming college waterskiers. But, if you're a parent of a high school or college student, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, or an adult eager to help our sport by assisting college waterski teams, then CTTP is your friend. It's a comprehensive platform for all things waterskiing, and everyone is welcome. Here is what it brings:

Through CTTP, Consider Me a Coach. 

I am going to ask skiers to submit videos for my feedback. My feedback will provide personalized advice from me that will benefit not only the skier in the video but also others who will have access to my breakdown of that video. But CTTP isn't just about ski-related training. It's also about providing college ski teams with a recruitment and retention tool that will strengthen their clubs.

Through CTTP, Build Your Network

CTTP thrives on a lively online community; it's connecting with fellow enthusiasts. We want CTTP to be a valuable network for young waterskiers that will aid them with all things waterskiing and in many things outside of the sport. One of Real Frequency's key teachings to their clients is that "Our Net Worth is Our Network." Knowing the value of a large and strong network, I want to give young skiers a place to expand their circle here so they become stronger leaders and professionals. 

Also, CTTP is a platform that allows high school students to engage and connect with their prospective college waterski team(s). We know that connecting with a club, community, and future friends increases persistence, lowers anxiety, and supports a healthy transition from high school to college. Early connections and understanding the culture of our diverse and unique waterski teams could factor into the student's decision as to where they would like to attend.   

Through CTTP, Gain Life Skills

Professional athletes understand the mental side of sports and how the proper mindset can impact performance in athletics and in life. With a deep appreciation for the importance of Mental Performance Training, Real Frequency and I are introducing a series called "Master Your Mindset" that will be housed within CTTP. This course will empower CTTP members with life-changing mental skills training to help them both on and off the water. This online course is led by the legendary Mental Performance Coach and Real Frequency's Director of Mental Performance, Collin Henderson, who has authored well-known books such as "Master Your Mindset," "Quiet Mind," and "Culture Is King."

In addition to Mental Toughness training, CTTP provides access to their Career Coaching Course, which they call "Velocity." Velocity is designed for college Juniors and Seniors and will prepare them for the ever-important transition from being a college student to their first job. This course is proven to help college students master practical and effective skills that will aid them in finding a career that truly fits who they are. The course is led by Jeff Pottinger, Real Frequency's Director of Career Consulting. Jeff and other members of our team use these same concepts when they coach members of the US military special forces community through our work with The Honor Foundation (honor.org). These skills, strategies, and tactics are proven through our work with thousands of transitioning veterans.

Through CTTP, Fundraise for Your Club's Future

Because our Career Consulting course material is valuable to those within and outside of the ski community, we have designed this course so that clubs can sell it to their members, friends outside of the club, their classmates, and even to those at different schools. This is not a bake sale. This is a product that will bring life-changing skills to those who enroll. And, due to their generosity, if a CTTP waterski team member refers a friend or student to the Velocity Course, they will donate a percentage to the club. So, not only will CTTP enrich skiers through important ski-related skills, but it will also provide them with a community, life skills, and a means to fundraise for their team.

CTTP: Join the Revolution

Don't miss out on CTTP's unmatched benefits. By joining our community, you (high school and college students) will elevate your waterski skills, expand your networks, fortify your mindset, and prepare for your future. All while helping a club you love raise money for its ongoing growth and success.

So grab this by the buoys and run the course with it.

Click here for the CTTP Video

 

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Interesting.  One way I've seen teams struggle is that you have a committed group that really leads seriously, then they graduate and there is not a good "handbook" or road map of sorts to give to the incoming skiers to make sure tasks get accomplished and how to do them.

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There is a bunch of interesting stuff here, the thing that I think is the most promising as a new tool for collegiate teams is the portal to connect high school skiers (although there are some risks there that will definitely need oversight). To date, I haven't seen any solid, consistent ways to have skiers be able to communicate with teams en masse, and teams with potential recruits. From what ive seen, it's generally just M/W1 skiers talking to B/G5 skiers at tournaments about potential to join their schools teams. This tends to lead to top-heavy recruiting for teams that are already solid, and teams who are trying to establish themselves build almost entirely based off of whoever walks past their booth at a campus organization fair in the fall.

 

If there were enough junior skier saturation in this program, with active participation from most collegiate teams, and active, focused support for team creation, we could see a very different collegiate landscape in a few years as juniors see more schools to ski at than just the 20 who make nationals every year.

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This seems like an awesome resource for high school and collegiate skiers, .... if the skier is reasonably serious.  I will talk to my daughter and her teammates this weekend when they ski their first qualifying tournament (GL/GP conference) to see what type of reception they have.

That said, my observation is closer to what @jgills88 suggests.

1. Talk up collegiate water skiing.  As a parent of a collegiate basketball player and a collegiate water skier, you can guess which of the two has had the better time in her sport. And which looks to be a lifelong sport.

2. Which B/G 4-5 might be interested enough in water skiing to continue in college? And assess who are potential scholarship skiers (not many in the Midwest), who will treat it as semi-serious (some) and who are mostly there for the good time.  My #1 promotion at summer tournaments and practices is: You should consider a school with a water ski team. My #2 promotion is: Keep skiing.    Which school they ski at is irrelevant to me. 

3. How do (MW) collegiate teams convince those water skiers who were at the edge of the podium in AWSA B/G 4-5 Regionals to ski in college?  I know of a couple skiers who attend college where they have a collegiate team and aren't skiing. My suspicion is either burnt out, too serious or "been there, done that".    One of the skiers would be a CW with nearly a 100' jump, slalom pass at 34mph and decent trick run. Chit, she'd be podium at all tournaments, except potentially nationals. And be the talk of the tournament.

4. How do (MW) collegiate teams avoid a caste hierarchy?  Not only who skis A-team / B-team, but who gets "good" water and "good" times during -vs- the left-overs.   I'm thankful my daughter is a rated driver, decent'ish coach to less skilled skiers and avoids actual class volunteers to skiers who show up. I hear from others I know  at hers and other colleges who expect only the good skiers will get the good times and water. Which alientates a lot of your skiers who didn't grow up competing.

 

Love the idea to get the pipeline growing. Will see what I get for a reaction this weekend for remote coaching.

 

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19 hours ago, Bongo said:

3. How do (MW) collegiate teams convince those water skiers who were at the edge of the podium in AWSA B/G 4-5 Regionals to ski in college?  I know of a couple skiers who attend college where they have a collegiate team and aren't skiing. My suspicion is either burnt out, too serious or "been there, done that".    One of the skiers would be a CW with nearly a 100' jump, slalom pass at 34mph and decent trick run. Chit, she'd be podium at all tournaments, except potentially nationals. And be the talk of the tournament.

4. How do (MW) collegiate teams avoid a caste hierarchy?  Not only who skis A-team / B-team, but who gets "good" water and "good" times during -vs- the left-overs.   I'm thankful my daughter is a rated driver, decent'ish coach to less skilled skiers and avoids actual class volunteers to skiers who show up. I hear from others I know  at hers and other colleges who expect only the good skiers will get the good times and water. Which alientates a lot of your skiers who didn't grow up competing

Just wanted to provide some insight on these points from I've seen from a collegiate perspective and as a high school coach (recently "retired" from the MW Board, have become active in the SAC, and have talked to ~30 teams throughout the country about how they run things, and coached HS Lacrosse for 4 years).

 

On the point of skiers/athletes deciding not to pursue their chosen sport in college, a lot of it stems from three major factors:

#1-- Burnout and change in scenery. From what ive seen, especially as a varsity sport coach, many kids finish their senior year and are just ready to stop playing their sport. Its not unusual to want a change in your life after doing something for so long. Some of the best lacrosse players i grew up with played from 6yo through senior year of high school, they just had their fill of the sport and moved on after graduating.

#2 -- Kids like to form their identities during their freshman/sophomore years of college, and often times that means they try new things and drop what they've done in the past. If kids only associate skiing with "boring" AWSA tournaments with their parents, of course they're gonna want to do something different. The trick solving this would be to find a way to create a more team oriented environment for younger skiers. (Show Ski teams thrive on having groups of 5-12yo and 13-17yos being in the same acts and associating skiing with each other rather than with their parents)

#3 -- There's also a number of people who go into freshman year wanting to (rightly) focus on school for a bit, and by the time they're comfortable adjusting the season is already over or they've made friends elsewhere and don't want to miss any events with them.

 

As far as ski hierarchy goes, from what ive seen in the Midwest teams follow a few different approaches depending on their ski situations: 

1) "Fun" teams with limited practice time -- A few teams I know follow a fairly strict whoever gets to the lake first, skis first. This is pretty great for ego-less skiing and getting more people in the water, however many of these teams typically don't compete as well.

2) "Comeptitive" teams with limited practice time -- typically are trying to win tournaments and qualify for nationals. This situation will have more hierarchy, and A team skiers will get priority, and if there's time, B team will ski too! Typically B team will still ski, but their sets might be shorter during the season. -- This is how my first year went, I took 10 maybe 15 sets (including tournaments) from August-October. I loved it, but didn't actually ski much. I can absolutely see how an experienced skier who's on B Team might not see the value in being on a team with this situation 

 

3) Competitive team with unlimited practice -- usually a pretty rare setup, but this is where B Team skiers thrive. A team skiers still get priority, but the lack of urgency in lake time means that skiers are free to come and go as they can, which means new skiers get many more opportunities to ski and are invited out more because teams usually need to ski in groups of three. These B team skiers tend to ski more, ski better, and build up stronger relationships with their teammates as the practice environment is much less structured. 

 

Typically in all cases though, whoever shows up first will get on the water first, if someone shows up late, they're getting the last set of A team skiers, and if they show up when B-Teamers are skiing, they're likely getting pushed to the very end of the order

Edited by jgills88
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