Posts Tagged ‘World Barefoot Center’

Teri Larson Jones: Coping with Age Anxiety

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Lately, I’ve been freaking out that my 45th birthday is on April 27th.  Yikes! How did I get here?? I typically ignore my age and simply live my life, but this year I’m struggling with my age and finding it hard to make the same old jokes about being 29 again. If having a mid-life crisis means you feel like life is flying by too quickly, or that I feel too young to be this old, then I’m definitely experiencing one.

So, how does my “age anxiety” relate to barefooting? For one thing it leads me to question whether I’m too old to compete in this sport.  The first time I felt really self-conscious about my age as a barefooter was at the 2013 U.S. Nationals. It was my first national championship as an open skier, and truth be told I felt a little silly on the dock because my oldest competitor was 16 years younger than me. I had to remind myself that the open division isn’t about age…it’s about ability. Other awkward moments are when I’m in the boat training with people whose parents are my age. I feel like I should be on shore with the parents instead of being on the water with their kids.

Behind my “age anxiety” is an underlying feeling that I should “grow up” or “act my age.” I know others think that way too because without fail after every world championship I’ve skied people ask me “are you going to quit now?” It’s as if they expect the worlds to be a point of closure, much like a graduation from high school or college. Granted, these people do not understand the sport because they don’t barefoot, but I get the impression that they expect me to be “done” with this sport after skiing a worlds so I can move on and do things that “grown ups” do.

I happen to know some grown ups who are incredibly awesome barefooters. For example, look at two of my U.S. teammates: Willy Farrell and Peter Fleck. Both of these guys are older than I am yet they still compete as elite skiers. Other grown up skiers such as Chris Mcwatters, Duane Godfrey, Judy Myers, Karen Putz, and Joann O’Connor also inspire me.  Actually, anyone (especially skiers over age 40) who is trying to improve their skiing and is working on new things inspire me to keep pushing myself. For all of us, barefooting should serve as a source of personal growth in our lives-a process that I hope continues until the day I die. If being “grown up” or “acting my age” means the process of personal growth is over, then I want nothing to do with it!

Of course, another other source of my “age anxiety” is the fear that my body won’t be able to withstand the learning curve I have ahead of me to achieve my personal goals in this sport.  I know I’ve set some lofty goals for myself, so it’s important that I take good care of my body so I can achieve them. Even though I see the things that Willy and Peter can do at their age, I remind myself that when they were 45 years old they were already doing the things I see them doing now.  They learned their stuff WAY before age 45. The biggest challenge I face at age 45 is actually doing the things I want to learn for the first time because my sights are set on difficult goals.

One of the things I love the most about skiing at WBC is that they don’t accept my age as an excuse to avoid pushing myself to the next level. My age simply isn’t a factor when I train with them. Even if I pull the “age card” as an excuse for anything they see right through it and call me out on it. It’s awesome to ski with instructors who recognize my abilities and know how to maximize my potential.

I’ve heard it said that stating something out loud (or on a medium such as this blog) makes you accountable for your words.  So, instead of allowing my “age anxiety” to make me feel insecure or too old to progress, I’ve decided to view it from a different perspective. After all, “anxiety” has positive and negative connotations. It can be a feeling of fear or uneasiness, but it can also be a feeling of eagerness or intense desire. Therefore, from this point forward I’ll redirect my “age anxiety” toward celebrating what I can do on the water DESPITE my age, and to eagerly anticipate the process of reaching my goals. Happy 45th birthday to me!

Teri Larson Jones

Chris McWatters: Who’s the Best WBC Instructor?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Over the last two years I have had the fortunate opportunity to ski with many different people from all over the world. One question that I have been asked multiple times is “who’s the best instructor?” Now this question has to be answered very carefully, because if it is not and the answer you give gets back to the crew, well the next ski set could become rather uncomfortable. Writing this article I feel like I am walking a thin line, but I am running out of material to write about, so I am going to try to tackle this obstacle.

Now the safest answer to this question is “they are all good” and that is true, all are very good. Of course the “all” being KSO, Smallz, Ben, Ash, and A.J. and let us not forget Swampy. This answer is pretty general and broad, and could be better defined. I can say that for the most part I have skied equal amounts between all of them with the exception of Swampy, but all the information about your skiing gets back to Swamp so it is like he is in the boat all the time.

It is important to mention that there are two different types of people in the boat. Sponsored skiers and students. Sponsored skiers are on a training schedule with a set regiment and are to do what you are told to do where students are there to square up basics or learn a few new things based on their skill level and wants. So, sponsored skiers and students are not instructed in the same fashion.

That being said, it brings me back to the question at hand. They are all very good at this sport, but being great at a sport and being able to share that knowledge don’t always go hand in hand. Fortunately for this crew, it does go hand in hand. They are great and they know how to share the knowledge. Whether you are student working on basics, or you are a sponsored skier working on more advanced items, all these guys and gal have a great eye and are able to spot what it is you are doing wrong. The real challenge is how can the instructors get you to do what it is that you want to learn with the least amount of pain and failure. Each of them are very successful at doing just that, and each have their own bags of tricks and ways of explaining every aspect of barefoot watersking to insure a positive learning experience at the world’s greatest barefoot training center.

I personally do not have one particular instructor I prefer over another, I think that they are all great and I enjoy skiing with each and everyone one of them. Yes, even with Swampy and that DAMN stop watch. They always have a way to get the best out of you. Well, maybe not right away but in short order. It is truly an honor to be a sponsored skier at the World Barefoot Center and I recommend to anyone, no matter the age, that has an interest in barefoot watersking whether it is for the first time, to square up the basics or advancing to the next level, call the WBC and join us here in Winterhaven, Florida for a wonderful experience and a chance to meet the best in the world.

Chris Mcwatters

Sam Meredith, Confidence

Friday, March 28th, 2014

It is fast approaching that time of year when I will be climbing aboard that big air bus in the sky for a short 9 hour flight to visit team WBC in Winter haven Florida… and I can’t wait! After a long winter of nothing but dry land training and ski videos, it is safe to say I am feeling both excited and nervous. I know that I have conditioned my body well but surely no amount of gym training can truly make you ski fit and prepare you enough mentally for that first set!? As this is my first season of training I have also experienced my first ‘off season’ and I have heard that the first set of the season is always a bit sketchy. Could this partly be down to confidence??

There are many things that I learnt at the World Barefoot Center both on and off the water. I feel that by sitting in the boat and watching the coaches work their magic I picked up both training tips and gained a greater understanding of how to get the best out of a performer. I watched Ben, Ash, Keith and Dave each push the students in a variety of different ways, which all gave them the same intention of giving each student the confidence they need to achieve their goals. I observed the coaches use an array of techniques to push the students out of their comfort zones whilst giving each of them achievable targets to allow for lots of success on their way to achieving a much bigger goal. A person’s perception of their own ability is said to be unstable and thus changeable. Therefore, these achievable tasks are good for confidence which in turn have a positive effect on performance. People with high self confidence tend to seek challenges and preserve with tasks. The psychology of feeling confident means that you contribute success to internal factors such as ability and effort. These attributions in turn elevate confidence and increase the expectation of success. Self confidence can, therefore, exert a powerful influence on performance by raising the expectation of success.

Whilst thinking about my pending trip across the pond I remind myself that I need to arrive there in the right frame of mind to maximise my own performance. I need to remain confident that I will reach my goals and believe that I have the ability to achieve anything I set my mind to. Confidence influences motivation and is therefore a factor that determines the decision to give your best in a particular skill/trick. For this reason I intend on attacking every challenge given to me at WBC with the belief that I will be successful in one form or another. You become competent in specific skills when you develop a positive self belief that you can excel in that specific skill/trick.

‘They can do all because they think they can’ – virgil

By: Sam Meredith

Jackson Gerard: Trick Skiing is my Favorite

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

My name is Jackson Gerard and I am 11 years old. I started barefooting last summer. My dad taught me how to get up from a knee boards which I now know is a really hard way to learn. I joined the team at World Barefoot Center last September and I love being trained by the world’s best barefooters.

Trick skiing is my favorite. Last year, I started learning how to do tumble turns, one foot stand ups and toe holds. I am working on toe up start which is worth 400 points in the competitions. That is when you have one foot in the handle and the other foot is used to get out of the water. You can’t touch the handle with your hands, they are up in the air. I will let you know when I get that skill mastered.

By: Jackson Gerard

Jackson attempts a toe up

Lizzie Rhea: Barefooting Needs More Girls

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014


I would like to encourage all girls who like water sports to try barefooting. Barefooting is an extreme sport that is sort of rare and not many girls do it. A few reasons for the lack of girls in the sport might be because the boat goes very fast, it requires a lot of upper body and core strength, and it can really sting when you fall.

I learned to barefoot on the boom when I was 5 ½ years old. The only reason I did it was because my brother, who was 7, was learning at the time. I have always pushed myself to do whatever my brother does, except for football! I guess having a big brother has made me tough, but I think that any girl who likes water sports can learn to barefoot for fun.


I love it when Coach / Mr. Swampy puts me in an all-girl boat at the World Barefoot Center. It is so much fun to be around other girls who love the sport. I have really enjoyed meeting and skiing with Ariana and Kailey Koehler, and also my hero in the sport, Ashleigh Stebbeings . She is my favorite instructor ever!


At our home lake, I have always loved to barefoot with my friend Haley. Haley made a video of us barefooting when we were little (8 years old), and sent it to a website. I have only one other friend, Emmie, who likes to barefoot. I am desperately trying to get my cousin Caroline to learn. I want her to learn so much that I bought her that barefoot suit in the picture! I think the speed and the hard falls have discouraged her, but I told her about the new Seahorse invention. I really think that she will be able to do it this summer because she can already wakeboard and slalom. I can’t wait to barefoot with her!

My advice for all girls, especially Caroline, is to try barefooting. You will probably end up loving it! Also, don’t worry about the speed. The speed is actually fun, especially when you feel the water gliding beneath your feet! One last thing, if you fall, get up and try it again! Be strong, you can do it! Girls can do anything that boys can do, especially barefooting!

Lizzie Rhea


Jackson Gerard: My Favorite Thing About Barefooting

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

My favorite thing about barefooting is that I am always learning something new at World Barefoot Center. My goal this year is to start learning turns on shoe skis. I have watched David Small do turns at 45 mph and watching him makes my mind think that I want to become a world champion like him.

The funnest things I have learned to do are back toe holds, backwards start and backwards slalom. My favorite trick is backward toe holds. I am still working hard almost everyday on line step position and tumble turns.

I can’t wait to learn how to slalom like my coach Keith St Onge. He is the best in the world. He makes it look so easy but really it is hard. But the best thing about Keith is that he is easy to talk to and he is a great coach.

I have a lot of goals this year and I know I can reach them because I have the greatest coaches in the world.

By Jackson Gerard, 11
Lake Wales, FL

World Barefoot Center no longer an Eagle Dealer

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

As of January 2, 2014

WBC NEWS – Company growth outpaces supplier’s production ability!

Every successful company reaches thresholds of increased demand, of elevated customer expectations and of heightened responsibility to their industry. The WBC has just been informed by Chuck Gleason of Eagle Sports that he will no longer be able to meet the barefoot wetsuit production demands of WBC.

In a letter to the WBC Chuck states “You guys have ordered a lot of product, and I know our product fits well within your business…….It’s with regret that I have to inform you that Eagle Sports will be unable to fulfill your wetsuit production needs for this coming season……..we don’t feel we can deliver product to WBC in a timely enough manner for you to adequately support your clients………. ”

The WBC is grateful for the relationship we have had with Eagle Sports during our growth. This was an expected phase, to outpace some of our suppliers, however we did not forecast being at this point with our wetsuit demand at this time.

Ben Groen – WBC Manager Product Development & Manufacturing is excited about this new step “I look at it as an opportunity to learn from our growth and ultimately enhance delivery with higher quality products. By partnering with a more established manufacturer that has closer ties to global markets we will position our company with the leaders within the industry”

The WBC wishes Eagle Sports continued success.

The World Barefoot Center would like to apologize to our customers as we go through this transitional period. We are excited to say we have been working with a respected company and well known wetsuit manufacturer to bring a new line of custom WBC wetsuits soon. We will follow up with an announcement shortly.

Team WBC

Is Barefooting on Your Bucket List?

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

barefooting bucket list

Skydiving. Mountain climbing.  Scuba diving. White water rafting. Barefoot water skiing.

More and more, I’m seeing barefooting as a “bucket list item” among new customers  whenever I’m down at the World Barefoot Center. No matter the age, they want to learn how to walk on water–and it’s right up there with skydiving, mountain climbing, and more. Today’s equipment and teaching methods make it easier than ever to try this extreme sport.

Four years ago, I took up barefoot water skiing again at the age of 44.   I had not barefoot water skied in over 20 years.  At that age, I pretty much thought I’d never barefoot again until I saw 66-year-old Judy Myers barefooting on the TODAY Show.  Judy took up the sport at the age of 53 and today, she’s the world oldest female competitive barefooter at 70. Just watching her on the show inspired me and I started feeling the old passion sparking up within me.  Judy invited me to the World Barefoot Center in March, 2010 and my life did a 180.

The first time I got into the boat at the World Barefoot Center, I was a nervous wreck and pretty intimidated by all the fancy moves everyone else was doing on the water.  If you told me then that I’d be doing some of those things four years later, I would have laughed you out of the boat.  But that day, I was embarrassed to get into a wetsuit and scared that I would make a fool of myself on the water with a boat full of people watching.  I got over that pretty quickly the moment I put my feet on the water and felt the old passion for the sport return.

karen putz back toe

I’ve been taught by every instructor at the World Barefoot Center and I’ve enjoyed learning from all of them (even the one who makes me cry, who shall not be named. <Insert grin.>)  I was once asked to rank each instructor, and I found it impossible to do so.  Keith St. Onge, David Small,  Ben Groen, Ashleigh Stebbeings, and Swampy Bouchard all have a professional attitude and the knowledge to instruct in every aspect of the sport.  They all know when to push, and when to pull back and rebuild your skills.  In fact, when Ben suggested a back toe hold during my last set of Women’s Week in 2013, I thought he had lost his mind. But by the end of the set, I had let go of the handle a few times and accomplished my first back toe on my feet.  Not bad for a 48-year-old!

I’m also seeing more and more “mature” folks taking up the extreme sport after several years off the water.  In 2012, Jill Broderick from Vermont came to the Women’s Barefoot Week for the first time.  The last time Jill barefoot water skied was 40 years ago.  In one short week, she learned the deep-water start, tumble turns, and longline. In 2013, she moved up to one foots and continued to build a solid foundation to her barefooting skills.  Oh yeah, Jill is over 60 years old.

Jill Broderick

The most famous barefooter of all, Banana George, took up barefooting at the age of 46, took up competition at 65, and barefooted behind a seaplane when he was 81. The last time he set his feet on the water, he was 93.  Even then, he managed to do a one-foot!

So if you have “Barefoot water skiing” on your bucket list, don’t wait for some day to make it happen.  Last I checked, there is no “Someday” to be found on any calendar anywhere.

By: Karen Putz

Why Do You Barefoot Water Ski?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Chris Mcwatters and Ted Baber

A question that I often ask myself and I am sure everybody out there does the same is– why do we do this?   “This,” of course, being barefooting.  If you think about all the things you go through to be able to barefoot, it almost seems psychotic.  The aches, pains, and injuries that we all go through is amazing.  I could never imagine any orthopedic physician,  physical therapist, or massage therapist discouraging this wonderful sport.  That would be like Budweiser supporting a law that would make beer illegal.  I personally do not know of anyone that competes or barefoots on a regular bases that does not have an injury of some sort.  In fact, there are many out there that have endured surgery and  in some cases multiple surgeries and yet, they keep plugging along.  this beautiful sport provides us with a wonderful opportunity for shoulder injuries, (we can thank turns for most of that) neck and back injuries (because going backwards and jumping are fun), knee injuries (just the sport alone knocks these guys out), ribs (goes without saying) and lets not forget the ever so fun concussion one of my favorites (thanks to FALLS) there is nothing more pleasant then that constant nausea, vertigo and pounding headache.  now i know there are a number more injuries out there that we all have had, whether its broken noses, eardrums, or burnt feet, but the question remains, WHY?

Now,  for those reading this article out there that have never barefooted before, the feeling you get when you’re standing there on your feet going 35 mph or greater is like nothing else.  There are no phones, buzzers, people yelling (until you get in the boat and hear that strong New England accent which belongs to Swampy Bouchard), its just you, the boat, and the wind in your hair (for those that still have hair).  Besides the feeling that barefooting gives you on a personal level, there is the entertainment factor.  A very common saying heard throughout the footing community is, “Never waste a crowd”.  lets face it we are all show offs at some level.  whether it is in front of the judges, spectators, friends or family we all like to please the crowd and dazzle them with cool tricks we can do on the water without skis.  What I find interesting is that to the novice spectator some of the most basic tricks are more entertaining than the more difficult advance tricks.  Doing a back toe or a front toe hold (the bases for most if not all tricks) takes a considerable amount of water time to master, but that doesn’t seem to entertain.  Get into a line step position and out again–that does not do it either, and in some cases neither does a front to back or back to front.  But…as  soon as a tumble turn or whip it is preformed, the spectators go all nuts, go figure!  If only those things were worth more points.
The other entertaining aspect of our beloved sport that everyone likes to see ,whether you admit it or not, are the falls.  It’s not like we line up to see the ever so famous scorpion fall, or a ass over apple sauce, or a grand dismount with a stuck landing,  but when they do occur– we all give “that” facial response, followed by a comment, and when the “okay” hand comes up, a burst of laughter.  After all that being said, it still does not completely answer the question WHY?
We all know that we don’t do it because it’s cheaper than the other water sports. In theory, it should be cheaper– I mean we don’t use any sticks or boards,  and all water sports wear some sort of life jacket, maybe a helmet, special ropes, special handles, and a specific type of boat.  In fact, I would venture to guess we carry more than most of the other water sports.  Still, WHY?
When it comes to water conditions, we are by the most finicky group.  OCD at its finest.  Too cold, too rough, too hot– and the list goes on, but when it’s perfect, ohhhhh is it nice.  And still, I ask WHY?

As barefoot water skiers, we have all these conditions, aches, pains, scars, we never waste a crowd, we never waste the water,  rain or shine and yet we continue to do this sport. WHY?  The simplest and probably the more confident or some might say, cocky, response is, “Because we can”.  Let’s face it, consider the number of people out there, now consider the number of people out there that water ski, narrow it down even further to the number that can barefoot (even smaller numbers at the competitive level.)  I am going out on a limb here and bet that number is less than .00001% of the population.  So barefooters, consider yourselves gifted, fortunate, and lucky.

Chris Mcwatters

Ariana Koehler: The WBC, A Home Away from Home

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

There are places all over the map I have considered to be home over the years.  I grew up in the Chicago area, but spent weekends and summers in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Now I am living a little further north in Mequon, Wisconsin as I am going to school at CUW.  Moving from place to place is never the easiest thing.  You will never find two places the same, so you need to make the best of every destination.

Another place that has become a home to me is Florida.  Spending weeks at a time down there, it has started to become a part of me.  The people I have met through skiing at the WBC are now family to me.  I love spending time down there, on and off the water.  It is always so hard to leave them at the end of a trip.

Another thing that makes me feel like I am at home down there is attending the local church called The Rock.  I went there for the first time with Keith and Lauren when they invited my sister and I one Sunday.  Now I go every time I am down there and the people there have started to become a part of my family as well.  The church reminds me of the one we grew up in at home in Chicago.  Spending as much time as I do down there, the friends I made, and the church were two big things that make me feel at home.

No matter where you are, you can not let your surrounding change who you are and how you define yourself.  Find a home in every place you go, no matter how small or big the connection.

By: Ariana Koehler