Posts Tagged ‘don simon’

Featured Footer: Don Simon

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

72-year-old Don Simon

Who is Don Simon?

“He’s no one, just a barefooter who took too many falls and is now brain dead,” quips the 72-year-old retired pubic relations executive.

Back in 1976, Don watched a friend kick off a ski and take off barefooting.  The sport looked like fun, so he decided to try it. “Back then, we were wearing Speedos and a waist belt,” said Don. “You either kicked off a ski or learned off a Hydroslide.”

Don chose the kneeboard and soon found himself gliding along behind the boat. With the introduction of the boom and lessons from Bill Peterson’s ski school, Don’s skills began to advance in the sport.  He went to Ron Scarpa’s school to learn how to barefoot backwards by stepping off a ski on the boom.  The next time he went to Scarpa’s, they had invented what Don calls the “human tower” start. “The rope was attached to the pylon and a guy would kneel on the floor with the rope over his shoulder.  As the skier planed, the guy would pull on the rope. When the skier went to plant, the guy would stand up with the rope on his shoulder pulling the skier up backwards. It wasn’t fun, but it worked.”

Don’s first introduction to barefoot competition came at a tournament in Ohio in the late ’80’s.  A skier slammed into the jump, cutting his forehead and leaving a smear of blood on the jump. “It was a cool tournament though–the local bakery brought in doughnuts in the shape of a foot,” he recalled. “The tournament looked like fun, even though my first impression was blood on the jump!”

Undeterred, Don decided to dive into tournament skiing. He doesn’t remember much about his first tournament, but he does remember his first Nationals in Florida. In the days before computers, skiers had to send in their scores with their registration.  When Don arrived, they didn’t have a record of his previous tournaments. The one competitor in his division happened to be a judge, so he took Don to a nearby lake and observed him so he could qualify to ski in the Nationals.  “That one competitor cared enough to help build the sport,” said Don.

Learning the back deep was the hardest challenge for Don. It took a lot of falls and persistence.   The day he finally made it up off the boom–he had already been in the water for an hour and half at that point. “That’s why they pay 200 points,” he said.  “With barefooting, you never look back, always forward.  If you need a pat on the back and someone saying ‘good job,’ then give it up.  Learn the trick and move on to the next thing.”

“Don is a perfect example of a 72-year-old man going on 40,” said Keith St. Onge.  “He is full of energy and brings others up to his level of fun every day!”

Every now and then, Don has the knack of giving himself two black eyes, the result of smacking into his fists during a faceplant. He just shrugs it off as one of the quirks of the sport.  He has banged himself up so much the doctors at the local hospital featured him in a recent article after knee surgery for a torn ACL. But guess what, Don didn’t tear his ACL while barefooting; he crashed his Harley and ended up with 150 stitches on top of the surgery.

“Hey, bones can heal, chicks dig scars, pain is temporary and glory is forever,” he laughed. “If you follow that, you can become a barefooter.”

Paul Stokes from Madison, Wisconsin recalled a lot of fun moments with Don both on and off the water.  “My favorite memory is from the tournaments in Bush, Louisiana.  We would always take a big group down to Bourbon Street in New Orleans the night before and Don was the life of the party with his quick wit. He kept us entertained all night.  All I can say is the next morning no one wanted to show up for their events.”

A burning passion for the sport and the camaraderie keep Don in the sport year after year.  He is on the water 120 to 140 days a year, sometimes skiing 5 to 7 miles in a day. He is focusing on training the younger generation and expanding the sport.  “The community is like a family, they accept you. I can call up someone anywhere and say ‘I need a pull’ and they show up.  We’re not a family, we’re a cult,” he grinned.

And Don has some advice for the rest of us:

“Live each day to the fullest. We are only passing through, so enjoy it!”

Written by: Karen Putz

Tennessee clinic w/ Don Simon & Crew

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Passionate is the word that describes Don Simon and his love for the sport of barefoot water skiing!  At 72 years young he organized this clinic not for his own personal needs but simply to get more footers involved in the sport.  Ok, he may be looking for a few new recruits in case he needs a driver from time to time. haha  All kidding aside, Don holds a barefoot water ski clinic on the Emry River in hopes to get new people involved.  He doesn’t even want instruction for himself.  He says, “Keith, you can’t teach me anything new, I know it all already!” as he laughs!  Don helps drive the boat, motivates others and listens to some “New School” technique so he can help his fellow footers when he can.

Don Simon having fun on his feet!

He even does a 1 ft. at the mature age of 72!!

There are so many lakes and rivers in the Knoxville area it provides a breading ground for local footers.  Many boat manufacturers have also been in the area for years like MasterCraft, Malibu and Supra just to mention a few.  I’d say this area is the boat manufacturer of the world.


Chris, Rusty, Danny, Keith W.,Wade & Mike

My job is to make sure everyone walks away from the clinic with a new piece of knowledge.  As long as everyone learns a little something new and knows what not to do I think I’ve done my job.  First rule in the boat is “Have Fun” and that comes pretty easy if you’re in a boat foot’n all day!

Chris Ritchie doing one of his first one foots on his bare feet

Mike Bryant learning a one foot, one hand for the first time.

We used Don Simon’s sweet Super Scorpion Sanger with a custom Tower Extension that sat two feet taller than standard.  I liked foot’n on it!  My friend Danny came over from the Carolina’s and kept everyone laughing and motivated in the boat!  This man is a ball of energy and loves his chewing gum!  He chews gum until it dissolves, which he says last him five hours.  If he is still chewing it before he goes to bed he puts it in the refrigerator or on his night stand…he then throws it into his mouth in the morning and he’s good to go!

Don and Danny

Chris Ritchie first time up backwards!

Taylor was not used to skiing with the boom low but to learn front toe holds it's a must! He did his first one that day!

Thank you everyone that joined the clinic!  It was a blast.  Unfortunately the only picture I got of Jason was learning how to Hand Ski.  He did get up backwards on WBC Shoe Skis on his second set though and did a front toe hold on shoes.

Jason preparing to push up for hand skiing

By: Keith St.Onge

Footers get FRONT PAGE!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Lauren Lindeman makes a splash on the front page of the LaPorte, Indiana Herald Argus news:

Footapalooza Makes Front Page!