Ride the Wave

Ball State students balance schedules to fulfill adrenaline rush received while water skiing

When he's done with classes, freshman Justin Slipher opts to fight the adrenaline rush he gets while water skiing.

Minutes later freshman Shannon McArdle battles ice cold water and the possibility of sickness for the very same rush. Pure dedication is evident in the lives of the members of the Ball State water ski team, including that of sophomore Jason Doherty who spent the evening of his 22nd birthday taking turns skiing with the rest of the team.

Even though practice tests the virtues of patience for some members, McArdle makes the most of her two complete rounds at the Water Bowl, located off State Road 3, home of the ski team's almost daily practice.

"You do a lot of sitting," McArdle said. "But it's worth it."

Though she said it had been a while, McArdle attempted a complete turn on skis. Completing the trick is something she will work on with the help of the other member's knowledge.

For ski team president Emily Schilling and vice president Ben Morgan, holding leadership roles on the ski team sometimes means staying completely dry. Schilling and Morgan, find themselves playing the roles of coaches and drivers more often than not.

"I want to help everybody and try to get them (skiing) as well as they can," Schilling, a senior landscape architecture student, said. "I think the president should help out. We take turns to get him (Morgan) ready for next year since I won't be around."

In the meantime, Schilling balances three completely different aspects of life. She recently got married, spends time in the architecture studio, and runs the ski team in a day's time.

"It's real hard," she said. "I just try to get out as much as I can after studio. That's why we ski until dark usually. Then I go home. The ski season is a really tough month to try and stay on top of things, but it's worth it."

Schilling joined the ski team when she was a sophomore at Ball State. Ball State graduate Jeff Kusz, who would later become her husband, was president at the time.

Although Kusz works a full-time job, he still manages to help Schilling with the team.

"I have to fight everything to come out for at least 10 minutes of daylight," Kusz said.

"I go to him if I have any questions like 'What would you do?' He'll help coach and help drive," Schilling said of Kusz. "He loves the sport, too."

Treasurer Michael Dougherty said the team practices until sundown on weekdays to prepare for a series of tournaments, the first starting this weekend in Van Wert, Ohio.

Because the Water Bowl is not suitable for competition, the ski team hosts the Van Wert tournament. After three competitions the team will take a break until the weather is suitable in March or April, Schilling said.

Five males and five females from the team are selected from the random number of participants to compete in three events: trick skiing, jumping and slalom. Schilling said trick skis are smaller than regular slalom skis and are easier to rotate because they have no fins.

Schilling said the team's goal is to go to regional. The top nine teams of the three-tournament competition qualify to go on to regionals.

"Every year we've just missed it," she said. "But we're actually practicing this year."

By practicing, Schilling means with an actual boat. In past years, Indianapolis dealerships supplied boats for team practices but have recently shied away due to liability reasons. Although it is mandatory for each student to be covered with U.S.A. water ski insurance (required for all collegiate skiers), Schilling said there has never been a major accident.

As for a boat, the team currently practices with Schilling's parents' boat. She said dedicated members competed in the tournaments last year without practicing because they did not have a boat.

"We never came in last so that was good," she said about the lack of practice. "They're all real excited to be practicing because we told them to take advantage of it. When you have a boat and you're able to practice it does wonders."


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