Foundation News

To celebrate 100 years of towed watersports, we are highlighting several of our Hall of Fame inductees and this week we’re honoring Willa Cook.

Willa is best known for her innovative show ski routines and was inducted into the USA-WWF Hall of Fame in 1982.

"I was just a country girl," Willa said. "I knew pigs and chickens and horses, and I knew water, but little did I dream where water skiing would take me."

Her routines included never-before-seen tricks with her swivel ski and she even starred in tv shows and movies! She was the first person to choreograph music to waterski shows and worked for years at Cypress Gardens directing performances, designing costumes, and mentoring young show skiers.

Today, the Willa Cook Award is given annually to a deserving show ski athlete at the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Awards Banquet.

Click the button below to get involved in our mission to celebrate our sport’s past and support its future!

149 views0 comments

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of towed watersports, this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday” highlights the legendary barefoot skier “Banana George” Blair.

George performed and competed all over the world during his barefooting career and was inducted into the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

Known for his unique nickname, "Banana George" was inspired by a fan because he wore a bright yellow barefoot suit and often ate a banana after his performances.

During his career, George operated two ski schools, performed at Cypress Gardens, and won multiple barefoot national titles. He even established a Guinness World Record for being the only person to ski on every continent – including Antarctica!

Today, George’s legacy lives on through the “Banana George” Blair Ambassador Scholarship Fund. This scholarship gives athletes the ability to pursue a college education, while still competing and working towards their dreams on the water. Read more about this scholarship and our distinguished student-athletes here.

Click the button below to support the “Banana George” Blair Scholarship Fund and our mission to support the next generation of watersports athletes!

381 views0 comments

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of towed watersports, we will be highlighting several of our previous Hall of Fame inductees this summer.

Kristi Overton Johnson’s record-setting career propelled her to the Hall of Fame in 2013. During her career, she held the open women’s world record of 1@41off for 12 years, was a six-time US Masters Champion, a four-time U.S. Open Champion, and the 1999 Women’s World Slalom Champion.

“The defining moment of my career was definitely winning the Worlds in 1999,” Overton-Johnson said upon her retirement.

“[The world title] had eluded me for so long.

I had just been through so many injuries. I realized how fortunate I was to be on top of that podium when it was over. I looked out and saw my dad and my husband and so many incredible faces. It was such a wonderful feeling.”

Today, Kristi is involved in the waterski community with her organization “In His Wakes.” This program uses watersports activities to inspire at-risk youth and has impacted over 15,000 children! Click here for more information about Kristi’s ministry.

To read more about our prestigious Hall of Fame inductees, click here!

Our Membership opportunities are a great way to be involved in our Hall of Fame and youth scholarship programs!

246 views0 comments