2020 Hall of Fame
The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2020 inductees to the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Wakeboard athlete Shaun Murray, water ski athlete Mandy Nightingale and adaptive water ski athlete Joe Ray will be formally enshrined at the 38th Annual USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, May 2 at Walt Disney’s newly designed Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla.
“We are proud to honor the legacies of these amazing athletes, who inspired our nation both on and off the water,” said USA-WWF Executive Director Tracy Mattes. “Their accomplishments and shining examples will live on to inspire future generations.”
USA-WWF has partnered with Walt Disney World to create the Oscars of water skiing & wake sports. From the red-carpet arrivals to the lavish induction ceremony, it will certainly be a night filled with inspiration & magic as we celebrate the sports highest honor. The Selection Committee will announce the remainder of the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, including the Award of Distinction and Lifetime Achievement Honorees, next week.
Congratulations Shaun, Mandy & Joe!
Murray was a four-time world champion wakeboarder. He was born on April 28, 1976 in Mission Viejo, Calif., and started water skiing at the age of 8. In 1988, he moved with his family to Lake St. Louis, Mo., where he honed his skills as a member of the Lake St. Louis Water Ski Club. After graduating from high school, he moved to Florida to compete for the Florida Southern College water ski team and teach water skiing at the Benzel Ski School. His wakeboarding career started in 1995 and was full of innovation and accomplishment, including many pro tour and world championship titles. Murray invented several wakeboard tricks, including the Bel Air, Tweety Bird, Square Raley, Crook, Crow 5, Heelside frontside and more. He promoted his own "Backyard Tour" with pro rider and friend Gerry Nunn; has been featured in many wakeboard movies, magazine and television pieces; created his own wakeboard instructional series entitled "Detention;" and was the star of his own video game, Wakeboarding Unleashed. In the summer of 2004, Murray dislocated his knee while riding. He tore his ACL, PCL, and MCL. After reconstructive surgery he was told he might not ride again. But, just months later he was back riding. He helped develop signature products that include boats, wakeboards, life jackets, wet suits and clothing lines. Murray was the first wakeboarder to land a 900 (Regular Heelside) in a competition, and he is the only rider ever to hold World, Pro Tour and National Championship titles at once.
While considered a formidable three-event water ski athlete, Nightingale was one of the greatest trick skiers of her era, winning back-to-back world championships in 2003 and 2005, and establishing a world record of 8,740 points in 2006. She was a five-time champion of the U.S. Open and two-time champion of the Masters. She was named USA Water Ski & Wake Sports’ Female Athlete of the Year in 2007 when she competed on two U.S. water ski teams and collected four individual medals in the process. She also won women’s tricks title that year at the Australian Open and U.S. Open and swept both events of the IWWF Water Ski World Cup. At the 2007 Pan American Games, she earned the silver medal in tricks and bronze medals in slalom and jumping. At the 2007 Water Ski World Championships, she was the lone U.S. team member to win an individual medal, earning the bronze in tricks.
Ray announced his retirement from competition at age 59 following the conclusion of the 2017 Disabled Water Ski World Championships. Competing in the MP2 Division from 1998-2016, Ray won 34 gold medals, seven silver medals and four bronze medals at the U.S. Disabled Water Ski National Championships. He was a 10-time national MP2 overall champion. As a nine-time member of the U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team, he won 13 gold medals, six silver medals and five bronze medals at the Disabled Water Ski World Championships. He was a three-time world MP2 overall champion and a member of five gold-medal winning U.S. Disabled Water Ski Teams. He set six MP2 world slalom records and he was the first MP2 water skier to run the outer course. At the only two Disabled Pan American Championships held, he won the overall gold medal both times in Seated Men. He was a six-time recipient of the Water Skiers with Disabilities Association’s Male Athlete of the Year award.