Vickie (813) 917-8354
Lisa (727) 480-9365
130 Burbank Road
Oldsmar, FL 34677
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History Of the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team
In the summer of 1922, history was made when Ralph Samuelson, an avid snow skier from Lake Pepin,Minnesota, became the first person to ski across the water on a pair of skis. After noticing that snow skis would allow him to ride on top of the snow, he believed that they could also keep him on top of the water. He nailed a pair of old boots to the skis, tied a length of rope behind a speedboat and successfully skimmed across the surface of LakePepin. As word of Ralph's accomplishment spread through the country, others began experimenting with this bizarre new stunt. Crowds of eager spectators would line the shores of the lakes and rivers to watch these daredevil men perform their water skiing. Thus, from the very beginnings of the sport, water skiing was considered a spectator event, which we now call "show" skiing.
In the late 1950's, a group of pioneering young men in theTampa Bay area banded together to form a loose club of water skiers, and spent many hours skiing on Lake Padgett in Land O'Lakes. One of the founders of this group, Stew McDonald, became a world famous water skier and is now enshrined in the American Water Ski Hall of Fame. As the early Tampa skiers became more organized, they officially formed the Tampa Ski Bees, and affiliated their club with the American Water Ski Association (AWSA). The Ski Bees moved their base of operation to Lake Egypt inTampa in the mid 1960's. Each Saturday afternoon the Ski Bees would perform a ski show for the patrons of Ralston Beach, a picnic area located on Lake Egypt. During the week, the skiers would practice the skill and routines used in their shows. From time to time they would have unofficial ski competitions with their Pinellas County neighbor, the Aquamaniacs Ski Club in Clearwater.
In the late 1970's, the Ralston Beach property was sold to an apartment developer, and the Ski Bees lost their use of the lake for practices and shows. With no place to ski, the club's membership declined over the next several years to less than a dozen. About this same time an energetic water skier named George Wolf was building his home on the shores of Lake Keystone in Odessa. As an inducement to his friends, he made an offer that if they would help him pound nails for a couple of hours, he would give them an equal amount of ski rides behind his boat on Lake Keystone. During the year or so it took to build George's house, there grew a regular group of skiers who hung around, pounding nails in the morning and skiing in the afternoon. They jokingly called themselves "George's Ski and Social Club."
By 1977, the dwindling Ski Bees had merged with the Lake Keystone group, and the name officially became George's Ski and Social Club. By this time, show skiing had grown more popular and under the direction of Cypress Gardens show director, Lynn Novakofski, the South's first show ski tournament was held. George's Ski and Social Club won the first competition. Through the early 80's, the club continued to grow and prosper, practicing out of George's backyard on Lake Keystone, and traveling throughout the South to perform road shows. The team traveled to the National championships in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1983, earning a respectable 5th place, and again in 1985 where the team earned a surprising 3rd place finish. In 1987 the club had achieved such success and notoriety that they believed it was time for a club name which was a little more serious and professional sounding. Suggestions were made and voted on with the winning name being U.S. Water Ski Show Team. Thus, the team's name was again changed. Still, without a permanent home, the team rotated its practices from one member's backyard lake to another's, all the while searching for a permanent place to settle.
By 1991, the team had come under some criticism for its name. Some folks thought it was too pretentious, and thought the club was making it appear as though they were some kind of official US Olympic organization. Again, suggestions for a new name were solicited and voted upon with the winner being the current club name.the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team. By then, the team had secured permission to use Tower Lake as their permanent home ski site. Thousands of hours of work have gone into clearing weeds, creating a beach, pouring a boat launch ramp, building a sound pavilion, a boat compound, changing booths, bridges across the creek, floating docks, jump ramps, performance stages, etc. The team is very proud of their Tower Lake ski home.
Since 1979 the team has competed twice per year in the Florida State and Southern Regional Show Ski Tournaments.Tampa Bay has acted as the host of these tournaments on numerous occasions. A highlight for our team was representing the Southern Region at the Nationals competition in 1999 (placing 6th) and in 2000 (placing 2nd!). Presently the team is at its all time strongest. Over 100 members from novices to experienced professionals participate in the team practices, shows, competitions and social events. We look forward to our continued relationship with the City of Oldsmar. Our goal is to provide entertainment for our audiences and a healthy environment for the great sport of water skiing for our families.