By Alyson Kehn
Genna Boeckman, a graduating senior from St. Cloud, Minn., waterskied for the first time as a reluctant 10 year old when her parents popped all the tubes they had and forced her to learn to waterski. She didn’t realize at the time how much she would learn to love the sport and how successful she would become in it. She grew up in a waterskiing family, and part of her reason for choosing University of Wisconsin–Stout was so she could be on the waterski team here.
Waterskiing is a club sport at UW–Stout because with the winters in the Midwest it is impossible to practice year round. The team has been around for 15 years now. They have a great alumni base that continues to give financial and emotional support to the club. The founder of the team checks in with the current athletes as least once a year to see how the team is doing in competitions and practices, and to see how everything is going.
There are currently 35 to 40 members on the team. The talent on the team ranges from beginner to expert. Some athletes are nationally ranked, while others just learned how to waterski a few weeks ago.
As a graduating senior, Boeckman doesn’t hold any positions on the team this year, but she has been the vice president, secretary and tournament director in the past. Her teammates have been calling her “mom” since her freshman year because she is always taking care of everyone and showing leadership.
Waterskiing is an individual and team sport, so it teaches discipline to work hard as an individual and also to pull together as a team. Boeckman describes it as the best decision she’s ever made. She said it’s the best thing anyone could decide to do. She’s met her lifelong friends there, and they are all like one big family. She has also met friends from many other universities around the country from the competitions the team travels to.
The team won their first tournament of the year a couple weekends ago at the Iowa State Tournament. They are nationally ranked in every event this year: men’s team, women’s team and combined team.
Boeckman is a very accomplished waterskier. She made the National All-Star team for three years; the first time she made the team was as a sophomore. She will be traveling to Palm Bay, Fla. in a few weeks for the All-Star Nationals. Another big accomplishment of hers was breaking the school record in the jump event.
Although she has plenty of natural talent, she works incredibly hard for everything she’s done. She said part of being successful is going to practice even when you don’t want to, especially when the lake is still half-frozen and it would be easy to start making excuses. This year, she won a $1,500 scholarship for her dedication and involvement in waterskiing from the USA Waterski Dan Olson Memorial Scholarship.
What makes Boeckman such an outstanding all-around athlete and student is that she is also on the UW–Stout women’s gymnastics team. She just finished her fourth year on the gymnastics team and has often had to go straight from waterski practice to gymnastics—from wetsuit to leotard. She puts her priority into the gymnastics team if there is a conflict, but often she will waterski, go to gymnastics practice and then waterski again if there is still daylight. She likes that the waterski team has study hours at least once a week, which helps her and everyone on the team stay caught up on their school work. They can also help each other out with homework at this time.
When asked about her future short-term and long-term goals, Boeckman said she wants the team to place well at conference and qualify for regionals this year. She expressed a desire for the team to become more well-known on campus and to see the program grow even more than it has in the past few years. For her personal goals, she would like to break the current school record of 71 feet in women’s jump event, beating her personal best. She would also like to keep competing this summer and qualify for the USA Waterski Nationals in Texas, if she can afford to go.
A fun fact that Boeckman shared is that UW–Stout is the only university in the nation that has a lake basically right on campus with a slalom and a jump. It makes UW–Stout’s waterski team unique and allows them to train better. For more information about joining the team, go to waterski.uwstout.edu