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Has served on almost every AWSA Committee over the years
Jeffry Armstrong has been a part of water skiing since she first joined the American Water Ski Association in 1957. And, although she was instrumental in making water skiing part of the Olympic family in 1987, she considers her proudest accomplishment to be her appointment of the first AWSA Junior Development Committee.
Jeffry has been a competitive water skier since 1962 and skied her first Nationals in 1974. She earned her judgeship during her first year as a competitor and began giving back to the sport she loves. In 1968, at the age of 26, Jeffrey became the youngest AWSA Senior Judge on record.
Jeffry's love of water skiing began when she was a child in Mississippi. In fact, she first heard of her husband, Ralph, through some friends who talked about "those two boys in the next town (Ralph and his brother) who could ski backwards." "I 'bout killed myself trying to ski backwards when I heard about them" Jeffry says. Over the summer, she actually met Ralph at a friend's skating party and the next week they skied together every day. Ralph told her she hadn't been able to ski backwards because she was using the wrong ski. With his help, and the right ski, Jeffry learned the trick in no time.
Jeffry assumed Ralph was her same age, 15 going on 16. When she asked him what grade he was in, he said he was a sophomore in college and 19 years old! "My folks really didn't want me to go out with him," she says.
Ralph participates as deeply in the sport as Jeffry. In fact he is the first driver to have been nominated to drive the World Championship Tournament for a second time.
Jeffry says water skiing kept her family close and taught them many life lessons. "Being that Ralph and I both believe in rules and discipline, it was really neat when we were all skiing together the playing field was leveled," she says. "(Out of the water) Rafe and Cali could say, "Mom, why don't you do this trick this way?" The sport really brought us closer together."
Rafe and Cali both went on to ski competitively, and Rafe, now an M.S. has been team physician for two U.S. Water Ski Teams. He is scheduled to travel with the team to the 1999 America's Challenge Tournament.
As one of the Association's premier officials, Jeffry has served as Chief Judge for numerous tournaments, including the 1969, '72, '82 and '92 south Central Regionals, 1980 U.S. Open and seven collegiate Nationals. She was also Chief judge of the Judge of the 1995 World Championships in France.
To add to her prestigious resume, Jeffry has been asked to act as Chief Judge for the 1999 U.S. Open and for the 1999 Pam American Games, an Olympic event that will be held in Winnipeg, Canada, in July. This will be the second time water skiing has been a participating sport in the Pam Am Games and Jeffry's second time officiating at the history-making event. She was an Appointed Judge at the 1995 Pam Am Games that were held in Argentina, and also Tournament Council Chairperson, setting up the rules of the event as liaison with the Pam American Sports Organization.
Jeffry has also made an impact on the sport as a part of its administration. In 1987, '89 and '91, Jeffry represented AWSA as a delegate to the Pam American and World Congress. She was also a delegate to the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1987 to 1989 and accepted the USOC charter for water skiing at the USOC convention in Indianapolis in 1988.
Jeffry has served on almost every AWSA Committee over the years, including Executive and Finance, Tournament, Safety, Judges, Skiers rating, International Activities, Membership and Rules.
In 1977, Jeffry became a member of AWSA'S Board of Directors and served as President of the Association from 1986 to 1990. She became an AWSA Honoray Vice President in 1960 and went on to serve as Chairman of the Board from 1995 to 1997. Jeffry was recently elected Chairman of the Board of USA Water Ski.
During her years part of the AWSA Board, Jeffry Appointed the first Junior Development and Sports Science and Medicine Committees. She also started the Coaches Advisory and Waterways and Legislation Committees.
Of all the work she has done with the sport, Jeffry is most proud of the Junior Development Committee and how it has help the sport to grow. "It was a different concept," she says. "Instead of starting with the grassroots, we started at the top with International Junior Competition and have gone down to the Regional level. I think that's going to be very beneficial for our sport in the long run."
Jeffry has also been very involved in the rules and rule making over the years. "I think it is very important that we all understand the rules of life as well as that of our sport," she says. "We all have our rules and have to live by them. I also think we have to remember as officials that the sport is for the athletes. Sometimes we get caught up in what we're doing and we forget about that."
For many years, Jeffry has served on the Pan An Tournament Council and the International Water Ski Federation's Executive Board. For her many accomplishments and dedicated service, she received AWSA's most prestigious honor, the Award of Merit, in 1992.
Although Jeffry says she is "not much of a skier," she has managed to hold high placements, including quite a few firsts, in her divisions over the years. She has not competed since 1991, but hints that she may come back to try her luck in Women's 5 this year.
When she's not volunteering as a water ski official or administrator, Jeffry somehow find time to run a successful interior design business, Jeffry's which she has owned since 1975, in her hometown of Grenada, Mississippi. She also enjoys spending time with her grandchildren Alex and Zach, Rafe's kids, and Jamie, Cali's son.