One of The Most Decorated Female Water Ski Racers of All Time
Marsha Fitzgerald, known as one of the most decorated female water ski racers of all time, learned to water ski when she was 7 years old and entered her first water ski race six years later. She competed in the Women’s Novice division, and in a sign of many great things to come, she won the race. It was the beginning of a remarkable career for Fitzgerald, the first female water ski racer to be inducted into the American Water Ski Educational Foundation’s Water Ski Hall of Fame.
Fitzgerald was born in Anniston, Ala., and moved to Southern California when she was 7 years old following a summer vacation. Her uncle, Charlie, taught her how to water ski at his vacation home in Lake Elsinore, Calif., where her parents eventually relocated. Water skiing became a passion Fitzgerald soon realized she could not live without. Her desire and obsession to become the best the United States had to offer and a world champion drove a career that lasted more than 15 years.
Fitzgerald, who first competed under her maiden name of Hill, was the dominant female water ski racer throughout the 1980s, becoming a nine-time national champion. She was a member of the 1985, 1987 and 1989 U.S. Elite Water Ski Racing Team. She won the 1989 women’s world water ski racing title and she was the bronze medalist at the 1985 and 1987 Water Ski Racing World Championships. In 1986, Fitzgerald became the first and only American woman to sweep the World Cup of Water Ski Racing, winning titles at the Catalina Ski Race in Long Beach, Calif., the Giro Del Lario Race on Lake Como, Italy, and the Botany Bay World Series Races in Sydney, Australia.
Fitzgerald credits her success to the people who supported her the most. Her parents, John and Pat Hill, and sister, Debbie, dedicated their lives to helping her obtain her goals. Once she began competing on an international level, all of their lives revolved around Fitzgerald’s training and competition schedule. Her parents owned and maintained a boat similar to the one she competed behind and her father acted as her trainer and was available at her beckoned call to train. A typical training session would consist of Fitzgerald skiing in full competition gear for a solid hour. They were grueling workouts to say the least and certainly a huge part of her success. In addition, her competition team consisting of Ron Tesarski driving his #600 Even Quicker 21’ Hallett Vector and Mike King observing was considered to be one of the top teams on the circuit as they proved to be an unbeatable force to be reckoned with. The trust she had in her training team as well as her competition team allowed her to only have to concentrate on skiing and being in shape. They always took care of everything.
“The individual gold medals are probably what I’m most proud of,” Fitzgerald said at the time of her induction. “Becoming the 1986 World Cup champion and the 1989 world champion certainly rank at the top of my list of accomplishments; however, I think my greatest accomplishment is being inducted into the AWSEF Water Ski Hall of Fame because it took my entire career to receive this honor.”
At the time of her induction, Fitzgerald was living in Concord, N.C., with her husband, Paul, and their daughter, Tayler