Days before Matthew Oglesby was scheduled to take off for California to compete in the slalom at Collegiate Nationals for The University of Alabama water ski club, he learned he would also have to compete in the tricks event after a teammate was suddenly unable to make the competition.
“I hadn’t ridden my trick ski in about a year, and so I had to go out late, late the night before we were going to leave to ride my trick ski,” freshman Oglesby said. “We have to do whatever we have to do.”
Collegiate Nationals was hosted by San Diego State University at Imperial Lakes in El Centro, Calif., Oct. 17-19. SkiBama placed third overall as a team with a score of 10,330 points.
“The USA National Collegiate Water-Ski was unbelievable,” sophomore Elizabeth Fowler said. “No one was injured, and everyone skied well for their abilities. We had a couple tournament personal bests, which is awesome to do at the national competition.”
Out of the 12 teams competing in Division I, Alabama was beat out only by the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette but by more than 2,000 points. Those teams have dominated Collegiate Nationals for the past 20 years and have been Alabama’s biggest competition, Oglesby said.
During the three-day competition, SkiBama was in a constant battle to secure its third-place position with Rollins College and Florida Southern. At the end of the first day, the team was in fourth place.
“Men’s jump is where we just pulled away,” Oglesby said. “After that, we were in a solid third place, and there was no way a school was going to catch us.”
Freshman Caroline Cooper placed second overall in girls slalom.
SkiBama took 16 members to Collegiate Nationals. Team members such as senior Ryan Hinkle enjoy travelling to tournaments to compete but to also meet new people and bond with their teammates.
“The tournament is a great time with a relaxed college atmosphere, as everyone is enjoying being at the lake instead of class,” Hinkle said.
Fowler said she enjoys travelling to competitions like Collegiate Nationals because of the friendships that are made there.
“The best part about collegiate skiing is … you get to meet people from all over the nation that have the same passion that you do – waterskiing,” Fowler said. “I have met people from different collegiate ski teams that I plan on being friends with for the rest of my life. The competition part is great, but I think the real rewards are the friendships you create.”