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USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Announces Award of Distinction Recipients

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2022 recipients of the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Award of Distinction.

The five recipients will be honored along with 2022 Hall of Fame inductees Tara Hamilton-Wynne and Zane Schwenk on Saturday, March 5 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, Fla.

The 2022 recipients of the Award of Distinction are Will Bush, Paul Gallizzi,

Gary Heinbuch, Ruth Johnston, and Roger Ray.

Will Bush (Water Skiing) has spent most of his life in water skiing, from tournament skiing for several decades to providing record pulls as a chief driver at elite events throughout the world. He is well-known for his leadership in developing D3 water skis, MasterCraft’s Pro Star tournament boat, and private water ski sites. As chair and a member of the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Towboat Committee for 30 years, Will has contributed his time to leading water skiing into the future. He has also served on the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and American Water Ski Association board of directors in many roles and on many committees for decades.

Paul Gallizzi (Show Skiing) emerged on the water ski stage in 1964, skiing professionally for the Tommy Bartlett Shows at the Wisconsin Dells. Paul’s skills improved and increased over the next few summers with Tommy Bartlett, Cypress Gardens in Florida, and the Philippe Logut International Show Ski Team in the South of France. But Paul’s hidden talents as a committed team player, promoter, engineer, and problem solver began to take shape as he assumed responsibilities and duties in maintaining the equipment, and making sure everything was always set up, working, and in place. Paul simply enjoyed entertaining people and water skiing. The Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team, which evolved from George’s Ski and Social Club, would not exist but for Paul. The entire collegiate water ski program at the University of Florida, and its expansion to other programs, would not exist but for Paul. Paul is and always has been, a sparkplug for water skiing.

Gary Heinbuch (Ski Racing) started water ski racing in 1958 in Stockton, Calif., in the Pee Wee Boys Beginner Division. Over the course of the next 30 years, he received a trophy in every single class available for him to ski. He eventually moved from skiing to driving and observing. In 2007, Gary made U.S. Open history and set a new record to amass the largest cumulative number of observing points. Gary is a seven-time U.S. Team member and has participated in a record 50 consecutive years of Catalina Ski Races. He has been a National Water Ski Racing Association board member for 25 years and continues to be a great ambassador of the sport.

Ruth Johnston (Show Skiing, Water Skiing) has been a leader in water skiing for more than 50 years as a skier, official, organizer, and developer of Ski Paradise in Mulberry, Fla. She is a former national slalom champion and senior world slalom champion, and she is respected around the world for her officiating skills. She has been called one of the top-10 trick-calling officials in the world. Ruth is a Senior Judge, Pan American Event Judge, and her knowledge of the sport has made her a mentor to generations of judges.

Roger Ray (Water Skiing, Show Skiing) is a promoter and water-skiing celebrity, author, and filmmaker. A trick skiing pioneer, Roger is recognized as the inventor of the toe-hold side-slide. Roger was a long-time Cypress Gardens skier and kite flyer, and he is known for his photo on the cover of Boys Life Magazine in 1958. He was a world record holder in tricks, set multiple boys division world records in water ski jumping, and ended up on top of the medals podium in several international competitions in the 1950s.

Huge Congratulations to all! We can't wait to celebrate these recipients in March!


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