THE RIVER RAT REMEMBERS Episode 7 I Love to Water Ski!!

BKistlerBKistler Posts: 87 Baller
Join former AWSA Executive Director Bruce Kistler as he recounts incidents from the Golden Age of water skiing. Interesting people—legends, characters and unsung heros. Curious places and events. Moments of discovery and wonder. Accidents, mishaps and miscues. Glimpses from inside the organization. Personal stories from a lifetime on skis.

Episode 7 I Love to Water Ski!!

She caught my attention. The slender girl with the nut-brown hair and beautiful green eyes sat across the aisle from me in 10th grade English class. Fortunately, she returned the attention—so much so that the teacher had to move her to the back of the room.

One day it was time for class portraits and I was wearing a coat and tie. At the end of class, I waited for Susan to come up from her place of exile in the last row. As we filed out the door, she asked, “What is that pin in your lapel?”

“Oh, that’s the American Water Ski Association,” I said. “I’m a tournament water skier.”

“I love to water ski!” she exclaimed, doubling over with excitement.

The rest is history. Next year will mark our 50th anniversary.

It turns out that I had been making nice with the only girl in Springfield High School, and probably in all of suburban Philadelphia, that had her own trick skis—Stilley Plywood banana peels like mine. Her parents had a summer home on the Sassafras River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. (Directly across the Chesapeake Bay from Chet Raley’s in Aberdeen and not far from Bill Wenner’s Upper Chesapeake Ski Club on the Elk River.) The family had an outboard runabout. She was a River Rat in her own right.

At my urging, she entered tournaments and over the next several years she collected her share of trophies in tricks and jumping. After high school we attended different Pennsylvania colleges. We got married soon after getting our degrees and both taught high school for a year in the Harrisburg area. Then we decided to get Masters degrees. I had been accepted at Arizona State but I followed her to Penn State. She returned the favor by following me to Florida when I took a job with AWSA. For the record, I’ll never regret going to Penn State. We are Penn State!

Susan has been my driver, pin person, GoPro operator, health advisor (she’s a licensed nutritionist—a real one, not a quack), sport psychologist (well, not a real one but she knows me), manager, and, yes, even my coach. Having watched me for many years, she has a good feel for what I’m doing wrong if things aren’t clicking. She was responsible for my return to the sport after a decades-long hiatus. She has kept me going, physically and mentally. For her own part, today she’s tricking better than she ever has. Two old dogs, learning new tricks.


  • ETskierETskier Posts: 190 Solid Baller
    Awesome. My wife and I skied together for 40 years, coaching, driving, tournaments, etc, the last 20 behind our home on a private lake. She retired from skiing 4 years ago, and I missed her. 3 days ago she tricked for the first time in a couple years and enjoyed it. I hope she continues a little bit.
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