Jackson Gerard: Rising Early to Barefoot Water Ski

It’s a quiet, foggy morning in the heart of central Florida. The sun won’t be peaking its radiance above the treetops for another half hour, but the dog and my ten-year-old son, Jackson, are already awake and sneaking out of the house. Why would a mother allow her child to beat her out of the bed and leave the house before she has even opened one eye?

“Mmmm.”  I smell coffee so I open an eye and find a fresh pot waiting for me. Mornings like these are my favorite. I make a cup and head to the porch to sip and catch a glimpse of my baby practice his newest barefoot trick. Even though I cant see him yet, I can hear the boat and can tell if he is making progress. I listen to my husband offering pointers and patiently turning our boat around to try again.

Jackson learned how to barefoot this past summer by straddling a kneeboard behind our boat. Not the easiest trick, but that is how his dad learned and we don’t have a ski boat with a boom.  It took him about a dozen tries over the course of two days, but he did it. Then he did it again and again and again. Before we knew it, he was barefooting 1000 feet.

After posting a video of his new skill on Facebook, a friend contacted me to tell  me that the best barefoot school in the world is located in Winter Haven, just a 30-minute drive away. I met with Swampy and signed Jackson up for a half day lesson. Of course, after donning a protective barefoot suit,  footing behind a shining ski boat, and trying some tricks on a boom, he was hooked!

He now trains with an amazing staff of professionals. The experience of meeting such talented and wonderful people from all over the world is an opportunity of a lifetime.  On days he does not train at World Barefoot Center, his muffled yelps and whoops can be heard  in the distance among the soft chirps and croaks of the other early risers.

By: Joni Jackson

Jackson enjoys a toe hold during his 4th WBC lesson

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