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U.S. Wakeboarding athletes Dallas Friday and Cathy Williams and Wakeboarding official Janifer Ellis will be formally enshrined into the International Waterski & Wakeboard Hall of Fame during the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

The IWWF International Hall of Fame recognizes, appreciates, and understands the incredible contribution each recipient has made to their discipline, community, clubs, federations, confederations, the world, and the IWWF.

The IWWF Hall of Fame can be seen in its entirety in our museum in Davenport, Florida, or online at

Dallas Friday is the "winningest female wakeboarder in history," according to ESPN.

Dallas' trophy case includes the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete, Four-time X-Games Gold medalist, and numerous World Titles. Dallas was also a featured character in the video game "Wakeboarding Unleashed" and a cartoon character in Disney's popular show "Kim Possible."

Dallas began wakeboarding at 13 years old and began competing at a professional level in her first year of wakeboarding. In her rookie season, she captured the prestigious Americas Cup title and won silver at the 2000 X Games, where she was the youngest competitor. At 14, Dallas captured the Gold at the ESPN X-Games and the NBC Gravity Games. In 2001, Dallas won the World Cup at age 15. She also captured first-place finishes in the 2001 Malibu Open, the first two Pro tour stops, the Vans Triple Crown Ford Ranger Pro, Cable Wakeboarding Nationals, and the X-cup. In the 2003-2004 season, Dallas won every pro event but one. In 2005, she accomplished a three-peat in winning Gold at the X-Games.

Dallas was awarded the "Born to Lead Award" by Cosmo Magazine in 2005. In 2006, she won the World, Nationals, Masters, and Pro Tour Championships and was awarded the coveted ArbVs Action Sports Award for Best Female Athlete. In 2007, Dallas dominated the overseas Wakeboarding World Cup events by remaining undefeated. In the 2008-2009 season, Dallas dominated the podium, winning the coveted "Queen of Wake" Title, as well as the World Title after a fantastic year. In 2009, Dallas placed 1st in the World Games in Taiwan and 2nd in the China World Cup. She was named in the "Top 25 Celebrities" in Central Florida and "Best Name" by Orlando Weekly Magazine.

Dallas was voted ten years in a row the fan favorite in Wakeboarding Magazine readers’ poll. In 2010, Dallas suffered severe injuries that required two years of rehab, causing her to miss the 2011 season. In 2012, she returned to the sport she loved and won the 2013 World Championships. In 2014, Dallas won the Malibu Cancun Pro, WakeStock Canada, and WakeFest Tennessee. In 2015, she saw the podium at every event, winning the Australian Moomba Masters, WakeFest, and The Tokyo Pro.

Janifer Ellis has been an Official in the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 IWWF Wakeboard World Championships. 1995 through to 2017, she was an Executive Board Member for USA and IWWF Wakeboard. She was also a Board Member on the PanAm Council and the Wakeboarding Team Selection Committee.

Janifer was a scorer and Judge at the PanAm Games for Cable Wakeboarding, USA Wakeboarding, USA Wakeboard Nationals, and USA Wakeboard Collegiate National Championships. Some of Janifer’s accomplishments include Raising funds for US Wakeboard teams and creating the first Wakeboard Scoring System.

Cathy Williams has been a solid member of the IWWF Wakeboard Community and has developed the sport to where it is today. 1994 would start the first glimpse into the water sports world for Cathy, working at Performance Ski & Surf. In 1998, a little late into the game, at 27 years old, she started competing on the European Pro Tour and training at Waterski Club Ravenna in Cervia, Italy, with the support and guidance of Thomas Gustafson.

Cathy made the tough decision in 2000 to compete in the first IWWF (then IWSF events) World Wakeboard Event. This was at a time when there was another commercial organization promoting wakeboarding under its banner and its own ‘World’ Championships. She faced much scrutiny and heavy criticism from the wakeboard community in the USA, including the industry. However, she endured and paved the way for professional wakeboarders to compete in IWWF events. Not to mention, she was the IWWF World Open Women’s Champion in 2001 in South Africa.

The following ten years would take Cathy worldwide, competing on many world stages; midway through her career, she was sidelined with a Torn ACL. Determined not to be landlocked, she created the first woman-owned and operated Wakeboard Clinic Road Tour, Live2Ride Wakeboard Lifestyle. Cathy was the first woman to have her own Wakeboard Road Tour. She drove her sponsored Chevy Avalanche towing her 24-foot Tige Boat with all the toys, wakeboards, surfboards, snowboards, dirt bikes, and mountain bikes. She negotiated sponsor deals, managed the road tour, and scheduled and facilitated clinics—a one-woman show driving all over the USA and Canada, sharing her passion for wakeboarding. Cathy continued to focus more on promoting the sport. She enjoyed being involved in growing the grassroots by hosting clinics, writing articles for magazines, and filming for shows.

Cathy continues to teach wakeboarding and is the current President of USA Wakeboard. She also sits on the board of USA Water Ski & Wakes Sports and the IWWF World Wakeboard Council (WWC).

We are so happy to celebrate this honor with these three incredible wakeboarding legends! We hope you will join us! To buy tickets or find hotels visit

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The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2024 recipients of the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Award of Distinction.

The five recipients will be honored with Hall of Fame Inductee Elaine Heller Fatla on Saturday, April 6, 2024, at Nora Mayo Hall in Winter Haven, Florida. For more information on the Ceremony, go HERE.

The 2024 recipients of the Award of Distinction are Joe Knapp, Alex Lauretano, Jason Lee, Dennis Longo, and Dusty Schulz.

Joe Knapp (Barefooting)

Joe Knapp fell in love with barefoot water skiing when he was 13 years old. He saw someone barefooting on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota and said, “Wow, I gotta learn how to do that.” After many failed attempts teaching himself to barefoot, he finally learned on June 6, 1976, at 9:30 pm on Lake Minnetonka with his future wife Debbie driving the boat. He had courage and faith as he took his right foot off the safety of his slalom ski and barefooted away without sinking.

In 1978, the first Barefoot National Championships was held in Waco, Texas. Joe was there and had the honor of being the first competitor on the water. Arriving at the tournament, he had never jumped. In spite of Debbie saying she’d give him $100 not to jump, his competitive nature and passion for the sport got the better of him. While waiting on the starting dock, a fellow competitor taught him how to jump, saying it was like jumping out of two skis without jumping. Joe successfully jumped, for the first time, at the first nationals.

Joe won his first Men’s National Overall Championships in 1987 and continued winning in 1991, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2015, 2018, 2021, and 2022. Aside from his numerous individual successes, he has been the most committed and persistent competitor in barefoot water skiing. He is the only person to have competed in every Barefoot Nationals from 1978 to the present, and he has competed in every event – slalom, tricks, and jump.

In addition to Joe’s on-the-water success, he has a passion for helping others, talking with every competitor at every tournament, and giving time to the sport he loves. He is a Level 1 (World Level) Judge and has been judging and volunteering at tournaments since the 1980s. As soon as he started judging, he became an appointed judge at every national, regional, and local tournament he attended. In 2001, he was recognized for his lifetime of service by receiving the American Barefoot Club's Stew McDonald Long Time Service Award.

With no plans to slow down at 68 years young, Joe is barefooting more and has added extra fitness routines. His goal is to compete in every Barefoot Nationals until he dies. He hopes to live to 102, the age at which his grandfather died.

“Every time I barefoot, even on the simplest of terms, it’s still really exciting. Now it’s just trying to fit it into whatever life I have and trying to make that work,” says Joe.

Alex Lauretano (Water Skiing)

Having grown up on a lake in Connecticut, Alex Lauretano's love for water skiing started at an early age. But frozen winters made it difficult to train and compete on the world stage. Alex moved to central Florida at 16 to train and finish high school.

Two years later, she was competing on the pro circuit and setting records. Alex is a former Open Women national slalom, tricks, jump, and overall champion, Pan American Water Ski Championships overall champion, Collegiate tricks and jump champion, and member of the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team. She was the 2015 AWSA Jumper of the Year and recipient of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports’ "That's Incredible Award." Her jumping is indeed incredible. She set the Open Women national jump record of 184 feet in 2013 and a new record three years later at 188 feet that still stands today.

Aside from focusing on her training and career, she reached out in many other ways to advance the sport of water skiing and women in professional sports. She is a member of multiple standing committees for USA Waterski & Wake Sports and has been the Athletes’ Advisory Council chairwoman since 2013.

Alex was a charter member of Girls That Fly, an organization of the top women water ski jumpers in the world formed in 2011. Girls That Fly highlights and promotes worldwide jump events for women and establishes parity for women in areas such as prize money, publicity, and event equality.

Jason Lee (Barefooting)

Jason Lee’s illustrious decades-long barefoot career began in 1993. He quickly advanced and just a year later became the Junior Boys National Slalom Champion. He was a member of the inaugural Junior World Championships team, where he skied despite being injured and got the bronze in slalom. Lee continued to push himself, breaking into the Open (Pro) Division in 1996 and competing in the World Games in Lahti, Finland, the following year.

In 1997, Lee became the Junior World Slalom, Tricks, and Overall Champion in LaMede, France. In addition, he set the junior world records in slalom and tricks, which he held for nine and four years, respectively. The following year, he became one of the first American Red Bull-sponsored athletes.

In 2000, Lee became the Open World Slalom Champion and the NBC Gravity Games X-Style Jump Champion. He also gained the Open World Slalom Silver title in 2002 in Wallsee, Austria. He was a U.S. Elite Team member and top contributor for five years (1998, 2000, 2002, 2016, 2018.)

Lee excelled in all aspects of the sport, winning the Barefoot Racing Cup Series Championship twice (2005 and 2006) by barefooting in a six-series race from California to Florida. He was part of the winning team in the Dam2Dam Race in Austin, Texas, five times.

In 2015, Jason won the US Barefoot National Jump Championship. As well as competing, Jason coached the US Junior World Teams in 2018 and 2020. He was recognized for his coaching skills in 2018 when he received the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and American Barefoot Club Coach of the Year awards.

In 2018, Jason became the Senior World Overall and Jump Champion in Napanee, Ontario, cementing his status as one of the greatest barefoot water skiers and the only barefooter in history to win a world title in all three Junior, Open, and Senior divisions.

Dennis Longo (Water Skiing)

Dennis Longo's early years in New Jersey and then Miami were filled with show skiing, learning to jump, flying a flat-wing kite, and barefooting before he focused on three-event traditional water skiing. And when Dennis focuses on something... look out.

Dennis immersed himself in the sport, training himself as a slalom, trick, and jump skier. He did not stop there. He became a senior judge, senior boat driver, and tournament organizer, as well as a fierce competitor in a career that has lasted decades. Dennis has set six National Records, six Southern Regional Records, and five Florida State Records.

Dennis has missed only one National Championship since 1975. That's nearly half a century of competing with the best in the country and winning. Just this year, Dennis took the overall gold medal at the Southern Regionals and at the US Nationals.

Dennis has not slowed down his training and participation as a three-event skier, senior official, and productive working club member. If anything, he has ramped it up. When the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation needed a revamped financial plan, it turned to Dennis. He volunteers countless hours, finding ways to make the Foundation financially sound while continuing the Hall of Fame celebration and the critical scholarship program.

Dennis is distinctive in his long career participating in the sport, improving it, and providing leadership and relevance for the future. We wish every ski club was full of amazing human beings like Dennis Longo.

Dusty Schulz (Ski Racing)

It is difficult to put into writing the contributions Dusty has made to the sport of water ski racing, both on and off the water. The National Water Ski Racing Association has no other individual responsible for so many different advancements in the sport.

Dusty has been an active member of the NWSRA for more than 40 years. He began as a competitive observer back in the early 1970s. Since then, Dusty has held many offices, positions, and chairmanships during his tenure in water ski racing. He has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy not only as a competitor but as a true ambassador of the sport.

Many of his accomplishments were achieved solely for the promotion, evolution, and pure love of our sport. Even now, he volunteers for tasks and tackles them with as much enthusiasm as someone doing something for the first time.

In 2017, Dusty stepped down as Chairman of the IWWF Racing Council. He is still a PanAm delegate to the council and is the last inaugural member elected in 1979. He was recently inducted into the IWWF Hall of Fame for his service and contribution to the sport of water skiing. As a promoter and innovator, you couldn’t ask for anyone better than Dusty. He truly has the best interest of ski racing at heart.

In the 1970s, Dusty and Terry Bennett from Australia created the “America’s Cup Challenge” between the United States and Australia. Then, Dusty and Ron Tesarski formulated a plan for a marathon series in the United States. The US National Marathon Series was born in 1980. This series provided the foundation for the United States to select US World Teams better. The event structure and world team selection processes are still in place today. With the creation of the US National Marathon Series, Dusty took it upon himself to have an original trophy designed. This exclusive trophy is treasured by anyone who receives it.

In 1984, Dusty, along with Tom Johnson, had the vision to run water ski races on the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona, a previously unheard-of feat. Dusty and Tom laid the groundwork, met with city and river officials, and headed the organizing committee to bring the first Parker Marathons to life in March 1985. These same marathons just celebrated their 32nd anniversary, having only missed the 1989 season.

In 2000, Dusty’s dream was to bring the Water Ski Racing World Championships to the United States for the first time. To make it a reality, he devised a logistical and fund-raising plan to allow the NWSRA to host the world championships without any financial impact on the association. Not only did Schulz bring his plan to fruition when the finances were settled, but the final numbers for the event also showed a profit.

Huge Congratulations to all! We can't wait to celebrate these recipients in April! Tickets go on sale on January 1, 2024, and information on sponsorships will go out soon.

For more information on Hotels and the weekend schedule, go HERE.

Established in 1968, the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation celebrates the history of all towed water sports and promotes these sports through our Scholarship Programs and the Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame.

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The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2024 inductee to the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Elaine Heller Fatla will be formally enshrined at the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Elaine will be inducted along with the 2024 Award of Distinction Recipients: Joe Knapp, Alex Lauretano, Jason Lee, Dennis Longo, and Dusty Schulz.

Elaine Heller Fatla is the first and only American woman to fly inverted off a barefoot ramp, land, and ski away in competition. Raised on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, her work ethic and quiet competitiveness made her a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.

Elaine learned to waterski at four years old and barefoot at eight years old. When she turned 10, her family joined the Ski Sprites Waterski Show Team to develop her skills further and compete in a team-based environment. At 12, she focused more on barefoot waterskiing, specifically Figure 8 tournaments and racing. Her dad drove her all over the state that summer to different tournaments, where she found early success.

In 2003, she entered her first traditional three-event barefoot tournament, the Wisconsin State Barefoot Tournament. After that tournament, she told her dad: “I want to be the World Champion someday.”

Her Dad went to work and did everything he could to support her as she learned and developed in the sport, including building a lake in their cornfield, calling it the “Blue Moo.” Elaine and her family not only supported her individual growth but also the barefoot community, hosting numerous Regional, National, and even World Barefoot Water Ski Championships on their property.

Elaine did most of her training with Lane Bowers, who helped her as she learned to jump inverted, something she still considers one of her proudest accomplishments.

In 2009, Elaine became the first US woman ever to jump inverted, and to this day, she is the only US woman to have ever jumped inverted longline, landed, and barefoot away in a tournament. Her jumping success continued from 2010 through 2012 with two new World jump records. Her success was not only in jumping but overall, including slalom and tricks. In 2010, she went on to win the elusive Elite Woman’s Overall World Championships title.

Here are a few of Elaine's numerous accomplishments: 1st US Woman to Jump Inverted, 2nd in the World 4-Time Individual Elite Women’s World Champion: Overall, Jump, & 2 Slalom 2-Time Team World Champion 2006 Junior Slalom World Championship 2009 World Games Overall Women’s Champion 5-Time US National Open Women Overall Champion: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 2010 IWWF Barefoot Athlete of the Year 4-Time ABC Athlete of the Year: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 5-Time Footstock Women’s Champion 2-Time Footstock Junior Champion Barefoot Racing Cup Series Last Man Standing Award Personal Best Scores: Slalom 15.2 – Tricks 4700 – Jump 69.9 feet (21.3 meters)

Huge Congratulations to Elaine... we can't wait to celebrate with her on April 6, 2024, at the Nora Mayo Hall in Winter Haven, Florida! Tickets go on sale on January 1, and sponsorship details will be released soon... we hope to see you there!

Established in 1968, the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation celebrates the history of all towed water sports and promotes these sports through our Scholarship Programs and the Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame.

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