Nancy "Rideout" Robertson
A Cypress Gardens Performer
Like many others who have excelled in the sport, Nancy Rideout Roberston took up water skiing by accident.
In 1942, Nancie moved with her parents, Bill and Velma Rideout, from Jackson, Michigan, where she was born May 12, 1938, to Orlando, Florida. A few years later, her father decided to invest in an outboard boat and motor, and a pair of water skis was thrown in with the deal.
Nancie learned to ski on Lake Conway, and her life was changed forever. Water Skiing came easy and natural for her, and in almost no time she was performing in area water ski shows.
Her talent was called to the attention of Tommy Bartlett and in 1955 she joined his water show in Chicago, continuing with his traveling show the following year.
Nancie's water skiing career took another turn closer home in September of 1956 when she became a performer at Cypress Gardens. This affiliation led to her introduction to tournament water skiing which was then almost as much a pat of the Garden's year round agenda as the shows themselves. Gardens skiers were making their mark in international competition, and Nancie soon joined them as a true champion.
Jumping was her big event. She won women's jumping in her first tournament, the 1957 Dixie, and tied the women's record of 70 feet her next time out in the Florida State meet. She set a new record of 76 feet in the '57 Nationals at San Diego and capped off an amazing first year by winning the World Jumping Crown on her home course at Cypress Gardens in September.
Nancie's tournament career really took off in 1958 when she swept all three events in her division in every tournament she entered, including the Nationals at Callaway Gardens where she set a new world jumping record of 89 feet. She had broken her own record three times in less than a year.
Returning to Callaway Gardens in 1959, Nancie won the "Overall-Overall," her sweep being judged the best overall performance among the four division competing in the Ida Cason Callaway Invitational, forerunner of the Masters. For her victory she was awarded a vacation trip for two to Sun Valley, Idaho, probably the first "cash prize" in organized water ski competition.
Nancie successfully defended her world jumping title later that year in Milan, Italy, to bring her tournament skiing career to a successful climax. She retired from competition the following spring after winning yet another Dixie with two firsts, a second (in tricks), and a first in overall.
In the meantime, the petite blonde (5' 4', 120 pounds) was much in demand on variety and game shows on the relatively new medium of television. She brought water skiing to the attention of millions with appearances on such shows as Today, Tonight, the Ed Sullivan show (twice), I've Got a Secret, Name that Tune, To Tell the Truth, and Wide, Wide World.
Her marriage to Earl Robertson of Kansas City, MO., in 1960 ended up adding two names to the sport's roster of officials. Nancie wasted no time working for her judgeship, and earned her Senior Judge rating in 1965, Senior Driver in 1990 and Senior Scorer in 1991.
She and Earl were involved in starting the Lake Olathe Water Ski Club (later Mo-Kan), and they worked to shift the state of Missouri from the South Central to the Midwest Region in the interest in lessening travel distances for tournaments.
Nancie also was named to key committees of the American Water Ski Association, including service on the important Rules Committee for three years beginning in 1965.
Taking care of two daughters--Barbara Ann and LeeAnn--and working with other young people at summer retreats (with plenty o water skiing) occupied much of Nancie's time during the 1970's but she regained her status as Senior Judge in 1980 and assumed a for more important role in organized water skiing with her interest in the American Water Ski Educational Foundation.
Elected to the AWSEF Board of Trustees in 1979, Nancie was named president in 1984 and held that position for seven of the more critical years in the foundation's history.