The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Award of Distinction. The five recipients will be honored along with 2020 Hall of Fame inductees Shaun Murray, Mandy Nightingale and Joe Ray on Saturday, May 2 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla.
The 2020 recipients of the Award of Distinction are April Coble-Eller, Gene Davis (posthumously), Nikki Lee, Don Mixon Jr., and Eddie Roberts.
The many career highlights for Coble-Eller, who won 30 national water ski titles, included winning the 1990 Junior Worlds (slalom and overall), 1992 Collegiate Nationals (slalom and overall), 1996 Moomba Masters (overall), 1997 Masters (overall), 2010 Malibu Open (slalom) and 2014 35+ Worlds (slalom). She was selected USA Water Ski & Wake Sports’ Female Athlete of the Year in 1990, 1997 and 2008, and USA Water Ski & Wake Sports’ National Coach of the Year in 2004.
Davis, who passed way after a brief illness in January 2019, was a jumper in local, regional and national competitions. He was a senior judge and was a very sought-after technical controller for record tournaments, including the Masters, Water Ski National Championships and Water Ski World Championships. He was chairman of the American Water Ski Association’s Technical Committee for many years, a past AWSA president, the executive vice president of AWSA’s Southern Region from 1997-2002, and was instrumental in bringing the technical standards up to their current standards and has taught many the tricks of the trade.
Lee is a longtime AWSA tournament official and board member. She has served as chief judge at numerous international events over the past 30 years, including the 2003 Pan American Games, 2004 World University Games, 2009 World Games, 2011 Water Ski World Championships and 2017 Under 21 Water Ski World Championships, in addition to the Masters, U.S. Open and IWWF Water Ski World Cup. She was a member of the AWSA and USA Water Ski & Wake Sports board of directors from 1990-2005 and served on the AWSA International Activities, Rules and Awards committees. She was a recipient of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports’ Award of Merit, the organization’s highest honor for volunteerism, in 2010.
Mixon Jr. won the 1981 Junior Boys national barefoot slalom and overall titles and his scores were high enough to put him into the Open Men Division at the tender age of 13. As an Open Men competitor, he competed in every Barefoot Nationals until 1996, with the exception of the 1995 national championships due to injury. He was a member of every U.S. Barefoot Team from 1984 to 1996. He contributed points in every world championships he competed in and his contributions helped the U.S team win gold at every world championships in which he was a team member. As an individual competitor, he captured the silver medal in slalom at the 1985 and 1994 Barefoot Worlds. A slalom specialist, he set the world slalom record four times. He also was the first barefooter to do a front-to-back positional turn before his back slalom pass and the first barefooter to do a wake 360 turn (unwrapped) in a tournament. He won the Open Men national slalom title in 1985 and 1994, and the Open Men national jumping title in 1996.
Roberts’ involvement in the industry dates back to the 1960s. He helped establish O’Brien, H.O. Sports and Radar Skis to world preeminence. He was responsible for many notable innovations in water ski and wakeboard equipment. He also volunteered immeasurable hours at tournaments, clinics, clubs and trade shows promoting the sport. A well-known personality in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California water ski communities, his encouraging and jovial demeaner has been an inspiration to water sports enthusiasts of all ages.
For more information on the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation, visit https://www.usa-wwf.org