Kentucky Waterski Federation is an organization of water skiers and their families, dedicated to the growth and development of the 3-Event Discipline of water skiing in the state of Kentucky.
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Hawkins Continues to Rack Up Record Performances
Trying to keep up with new personal bests and state records for Kassidy Hawkins is like skeet shooting – it’s a constantly moving target!  Two weeks ago, skiing at a mid-week tournament at No Wake Lake in Georgia, Kassidy broke her own Girls 3 state record with 1 buoy at 38 off (11.25 meters).  Then last weekend, she set a new PB in jumping at another Georgia tournament, sailing 79 feet.  This past weekend, skiing at Okeheelee Park in West Palm Beach at their “Fall Slalom Classic,” she once again broke her own Girls 3 state slalom record with 1.5 buoys at 38 off – TWICE!!  Her recent performances have moved her up to #4 on the Girls 3 National Ranking List.

Kassidy will be skiing in the US Junior Open in slalom this coming weekend at West Palm Beach (Sept 30 – Oct 2), slaloming in competition with the top junior women skiers from around the country.


Jones Duo Rewrites State Record Books

Saturday Sept 3rd dawned cool and windy for the 21st Annual Stillwater Labor Day Slalom.  Performances weren't up to par for most skiers, but two were of special note.  The Jones family came ready to ski and it showed.  First off, Lake showed signs of things to come by running 32 off in the first round, then in the third round tied the B2 record held by Austin Collins, which is 2@35 off.  Kyle's first round looked like the old Kyle as he ran 2@39 off.  Then he came back in round two with a M4 State record performance of 1@41 off.  A score into 41 has never been posted by a Kentucky skier on Kentucky water, so it deserves special note and congratulations. 

Our offer of free entry to any first time tournament skier was finally accepted.  Not only one, but two first timers took to the water.  Our own Hartley Davidson skied and ran his opening pass in his first tournament appearance.  Levi Duncan, of Indiana, skied his first tournament and scored a PB in the first round and each successive round. 

The tournament also featured the return to tournament skiing of Joe Duff, Kentucky's most experienced skier, establishing the first KWSF record book entry for M10.

Leon Leonard



Kassidy Hawkins, a Kentucky junior water skier and member of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, has been selected to compete in the US Junior Open Water Ski Tournament, to be held in West Palm Beach September 30th thru October 2nd.  She will compete in slalom against the top juniors from around the country in this highly prestigious event. 

Kassidy is currently ranked #5 in the country in Girls 3, less than 2 ½ buoys behind the #3 ranked skier (Kristen Baldwin).  Brooke Baldwin leads the pack on the ranking list as it currently stands.  She has rapidly ascended the ranking lists of her divisions over the past two years, progressing from a Regionals qualified skier to one of the top ranked girls skiers in the U S during this time.



Austin Collins, 13, of Murray led the U.S. "Under 14" team to victory this past weekend in international water ski competition in Canada. The Canadian/ U.S. Challenge, held in Edmonton, Alberta, pitted select U.S. Junior Teams against their counterparts from the north.

The contingents from each country consisted of two teams -- eight of the top male and female skiers under the age of 14 (the "Under 14 grouping), and eight from each country aged 14 to 16 (the "Under 17" grouping). Both U.S. teams won handily, with Collins one of the top scorers for his team. He placed 2nd in Boys slalom with a personal-best-ever score of 92 1/2 buoys.  He then followed that up by soaring 121 feet in jumping to win his age group. A solid score in tricks made his overall contribution to the team critical in bringing home victory.


Hawkins and Davidson “Clean House” In Girls 3 Superlatives
Kassidy Hawkins and Saylor Davidson “cleaned house” in Girls 3 at the National Awards Banquet, taking all three of the “Most Improved Skier” awards in their division.  Kassidy was awarded the Most Improved in both jumping and tricks, while Saylor received the award in slalom. 
Not to belabor the point, but ----
Super congratulations, Kassidy and Saylor!  This is a first for the state of Kentucky, and perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishment of all at the 2016 national level.


Kentucky Skiers Do Well at 2016 Nationals

Kentucky fielded a team of eight skiers for the 2016 3-Event National Championships hosted this past week at Broadside Harbor Lakes near Boise, Idaho.  The six-day event hosted over 600 of the best skiers from the 50 states.  Our team brought home nine total medals, a very good haul for this level of competition.

Before getting to the placements, accolades go to three skiers who turned in personal bests on the nation’s biggest water skiing stage.  This is a rare feat indeed (the writer only did it one time – my first-ever Nationals – in 30+ years of skiing Nationals), accomplished under the pressure of the highest level of competition.  On Friday, Saylor Davidson ran her first-ever 28-off pass in a tournament, finishing with a PB of one at 32 off.  Kassidy Hawkins had a PB in jumping with 76 feet.  Then on Saturday, Ryan Harris set a PB of 5,110 points in tricks – this accomplished in a tournament where trick judging is usually at its toughest.  Congrats to both Saylor, Kassidy, and Ryan for this unique and gutsy accomplishment.

Now, back to the placements.  The seniors led off the week on Monday thru Wednesday, with Errol Bryant setting the trophy pace for the rest of our skiers.  While not performing at his best, Errol still managed a 5th in slalom (two @ 28 off) and 3rd in tricks (780) for a 3rd place overall finish.  This got Kentucky off to a slam bang start with three medals.

Also having outstanding performances were Dave Keller and Pat Coomes.  Dave made the podium with a trick total of 1970 points, good for 5th.  He also had one of his best-ever tournament performances in slalom, scoring one @ 35 off for 15th in a very tough field.  Patpaw made the podium in jumping with an 85-foot leap, good for 5th, and just missed the podium in overall, finishing in 6th place.

The junior events followed on Wednesday- Friday.  Leading the medals for our Junior Team Kentucky was Austin Collins of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, who finished 3rd in jumping with a jump of 101 feet.  Austin narrowly missed the podium in both slalom (7th with 2 ½ @ 32 off) and overall (6th).

Kassidy Hawkins, skiing in the tough Girls 3, also had strong performances across the board, even though slalom and tricks results were a bit off her capabilities.  Kassidy racked up a 9th in slalom with 3 @ 32 off, a 9th in tricks with 2310 points, and 76-ft jump which placed her in 10th overall. 

As noted above, Saylor Davidson had a PB in slalom (her highest placement at 13th), and solid performances in jumping, tricks, and overall.

Closing out the tournament for Kentucky were two Harrises – Ryan and Lauren.  Both skied in extremely tough competition, particularly Ryan, and both medaled.  Ryan turned in perhaps the best across-the-board performance of any Kentucky skier, finishing 5th in tricks with his PB 5,110 points; 7th in slalom with 2 @ 38 off; and 13th in jumping with a 141 footer; overall finish of 5th for his second medal of the competition. 

Lauren scored two at 35 off in slalom to make the podium in 4th place, one of her best-ever performances at the national level.

Congratulations to all of our Nationals skiers for representing the state of Kentucky in superb fashion!  We’re all proud of each of you.

DATELINE:   AWSA Headquarters – Polk City, FL
                                 August 2, 2016

Austin Collins Named to U S Can-Am Team

Austin Collins of Murray, Kentucky has been named as one of six skiers who will represent the United States on the “Under 14” team at the Can/Am Challenge in August.  Austin joins James Bryans, Zach Butterfield, Kennedy Hansen, Caroline Parker, and Will Roberts on this elite group of young skiers who will compete against Canada in this “team only” competition.  Additionally, six skiers from the US have been chosen for the “Under 17” team to compete for bragging rights between the U.S. and Canada.

The competition will be held in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) August 20-21.  The AWSA International Activities Committee chose team members based upon criteria involving top individual event and 3-event skiers from across the country.
We applied to the Goode water ski company to pay for Saylor's entry fee to
her first Nationals, she got the reply email while we were at Regionals.

Hartley Davidson

Juniors Set the Pace at 2016 Southern Regionals

Our team of junior skiers set the pace for Kentucky in competition on Wednesday and Thursday at the 2016 Southern Regionals, held at Lymanland Lake in Tuscaloosa, AL. A total of five juniors from the Bluegrass racked up seven individual medals in the six junior divisions.

Leading the way for Junior Team Kentucky was Austin Collins of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts.  Austin scored our only gold medal in the youth divisions, claiming 1st place in Boys 2 Jump with a jump of 121 feet, blowing away the 2nd place finisher by 22 feet.  Austin also brought home the silver in slalom with a score of 4 @ 32 off, snatching 2nd place in a run-off with James Bryans.  His 9th in tricks was good enough to lock up a 3rd place finish in Overall.

Kassidy Hawkins of the Ski Nuts, skiing in Girls 3, also had excellent performances across the board.  Kassidy racked up a 3rd in slalom with 5 @ 35 off (one buoy off her PB).  She backed that performance up with a strong trick run of 2,110 points, good for a 5th place spot on the podium. A 7th in jumping helped her come in at 5th in Overall in her division.

Also making the medals stand for the Kentucky Juniors was Lake Jones of the Laurel Lake Ski Club.  Lake scored 2 on the green loop (32 off) for a 5th place finish in Boys 2.

Saylor Davidson and Chloe Kelley finished just out of contention for medals, with Saylor taking a 6th place finish in Girls 3 jumping (62 feet and a PB) and a 7th in Overall, and Chloe finishing 8th in tricks with a score of 350 points.

Two of the most prestigious awards for Southern Region Juniors were claimed by Kentucky skiers at the Awards Banquet on Thrusday evening.  Saylor Davidson won the trophy for most improved Girls 3 slalom, while Kassidy Hawkins claimed the award for most improved Girls 3 tricker.

Great job, juniors!!  Once again, the state of Kentucky was well represented by our youngest skiers.
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Seniors “Over Achieve” at the 2016 Southern Regionals

Our Kentucky Seniors troupe may be “over-aged” but this did NOT keep them from over achieving at the 2016 Southern Regionals in Tuscaloosa (AL), held July 20th – 24th. In the Mens and Womens 4 thru 9 divisions, Kentucky was well represented with a total of nine skiers (Should we really consider Eric Kelley a “senior” skier?!).  This group of nine claimed an astounding 16 podium spots during the competition – including four golds, four silvers, and three bronzes.  What a performance!!

Leading the way was Errol Bryant of the Ski Nuts with a clean sweep of golds in the Men 9 division – first in Slalom with 4 ½ @28 off, first in Tricks with1,070 points, and a slam dunk in Overall!  Also taking a top podium spot was David Keller of the Cave Lake Skiers in Men 7 Tricks, with a strong 1,970 points.  Finally, Leon Leonard of the Stillwater Skiers claimed first in Men 7 Slalom, tying with 3 @ 35 off and then winning in a run-off.

Silver medal winners included Eric Kelley of Bowling Green in Men 4 Slalom with 5 @ 38 off; Pat Coomes of the Ski Nuts in Men 6 Jumping with a leap of 79 feet; Carl Marquess (Ski Nuts) in Men 6 Tricks with 1,940 points; and Pam Guthrie (our only seniors woman skier) with 5 @ 28 off.

Besides taking 2nd in Men 4 Slalom, Eric Kelley was on the podium for his other three opportunities in Men 4 – 4th in Jump, 5th in Tricks, and 3rd in Overall.  Carl Marquess had two other podium finishes in Men 5 – 5th in Jump (say whattt!!!) and 3rd Overall. Pat Coomes (5th Overall in Men 6) and David Keller (3rd in Men 6 Slalom), rounded out our medals winners in this age group.

Just off the podium in Men 6 slalom was Dale Coffey, with a 6th place finish (2 @ 35 off).  Mark Coomes rounded out the Kentucky contingent, rounding 2 ½ buoys at 32 off in Men 5 Slalom.
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Young Adult Skiers Complete Strong Kentucky Finish at 2016 Southern Regionals

The young adult (Men/Women 1 thru 3) representatives on the Kentucky ski team included six Men 1 skiers and one Women 1 skier.  These seven skiers rang up a respectable six medals in the very stiff competition comprising these divisions.

Leading the way was Ryan Harris of the Stillwater Skiers.  Ryan was on the podium three times in Men 1, with a 3rd place in Slalom on a performance of 1 ½ @38 off, a 4th place in Tricks with 3,460 points, and a 3rd in Overall.  He narrowly missed a fourth podium finish, placing 6th in Jumping at 145 feet.

Lauren Harris, skiing in Women 1 slalom and tricks, made the awards stand in both, finishing 3rd in slalom with 2 @ 35 off (and winning a run-off of a tie) and 4th in tricks with a score of 1,450 points.

Rounding out podium finishes in this age group was Josh Kelley, finishing 4th in Men 1 Jump with a leap of 151 feet.  Josh just missed the Overall podium with a 6th place finish.

Leland Rouse had two podium near misses, finishing 7th in Men1 Jump and Overall.  Jack Hawes had a near-podium finish in Men 1 tricks, finishing 7th with 1,720 points.  Rounding out the Kentucky competitors in this group were Nick Roshelli and Hunter.McKune.

This article would not be complete without noting an “almost Southern Regionals record” in Men 1 Jump by Hunter McKune.  Hunter launched a 191-foot missile on his first jump, only to lose it to slack rope on the landing.  Had he been able to reel it in and ride away, he would have broken the Men 1 Regionals Record set by John Burris (189 ft) all the way back in 2003.  Alas, it will only be an asterisk in the history Kentucky water skiing performances.  But it was still one helluva jump, Hunter!!
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2016 Southern Regionals Notes

  • Kentucky was represented among the Appointed Officials by Bobby Hill (Appointed Judge) and Bob Harris (Appointed Judge).

  • Kentucky skiers were in four slalom run-offs for placement at the Regionals.  We won them all!  Great clutch skiing by our team!

  • Kentucky finished 3rd in the Regionals as a team, behind only Florida and Tennessee.  Great team performance, gang!

  • According to chief cheerleader Joy Coomes, Kentucky once again easily had the noisiest, rowdiest, and most supportive group of fans at the Regionals – hands down!  We always let ‘em know who’s #1 when it comes to team support!

  • Our group of 21 skiers represented one of the larest contingents of skiers from Kentucky ever.  Our performances from these skiers represented some of the best performances as a group ever.

  • While the total number of skiers (208) for this Regionals probably exceeded most expectations (with a Nationals in Idaho), it was still the lowest number of entries in the modern era for a Southern Regionals.  Not a good statistic to report, but none-the-less the reality of the sport at this point in our history.


2016 Regional and National Kentucky Teams

The Regional teams for Kentucky were selected based on NOPS points through the state tournament:

2016 Kentucky State Championships - Cruises Creek Ski Club

It’s hard to say which was the bigger story line this past weekend for the 2016 Kentucky State Water Ski Championships – the near-perfect water and weather conditions, or the huge number of state and state championship records that were broken.  Cruises Creek always provides an excellent site for viewing three-event water skiing, and the gorgeous weather and moderate temps made this tournament even better than usual.

BUT – we certainly can’t overlook the fantastic skiing cranked out by our skiers.  Notable state record performances were:

  • Kassidy Hawkins of the Ski Nuts, skiing in the Girls 3 division, became the first female skier in Kentucky history to run six buoys at 35 off, setting a new mark in Girls 3 slalom in the process.
  • Austin Collins, another Ski Nut, raised the tournament record by a whopping 30 feet in Boys 2 Jump, blasting out an incredible 123-footer on Saturday for a new state record (in a stiff tail wind, no less).
  • Dale Coffey, skiing in Men 6, tied the slalom record of Leon Leonard by skiing 3 at 35 off.
  • Dave Keller, in Men 7, established a new state trick record with a point total of 2,310 points.

State tournament records set (in addition to the above) were:

  • Josh Kelley, from Bowling Green, skiing in the Men 1 division, raised the bar in Men 1 slalom, becoming  the first Kentucky Men 1 skier to clear the 35 off hurdle by finishing with a half buoy at 38 off on Sunday, also a new state tournament record.
  • Carl Marquess, a Ski Nut, skiing in the Men 6 division, raised the tricks record in this division to 2,750 points.
  • Pam Guthrie, with the Grider Hill Skiers, skiing in Women 6, tied Suzanne Webb's slalom record by running 5 @ 28 off.
  • Errol Bryant, another Ski Nut, set three new state tournament records – slalom with 4 ½ @ 28 off, tricks with 700 total points, and Overall with 848 NOPS.

In the awards presentation ceremony on Saturday evening at the summer meeting/banquet, the following State Federation members were recognized:

  • Junior Skier of the Year – Austin Collins of Murray
  • Skier of the Year – Ryan Harris of Lexington
  • Member of the Year – Pat Coomes of Owensboro.

A big congratulations to these individuals for being recognized for their performances and contributions to the sport throughout the 2015 season.

Special thanks go out to our chief officials for the tournament:
                Bob Harris – Chief Judge
                Tim McKune – Chief Driver
                Pam Harris – Chief Scorer
(and an extra special thanks to Pam for tabulating all the records)
                John Harris – Chief Safety

And FINALLY – let’s save the biggest “thank you” for the Cruises Creek Ski Club, for their superb job of putting on a classic state tournament. While they can’t take credit for the great weather, most everything else that went well with this tournament can be accredited to them.  Thanks, all!!

The 2017 State Championships was awarded to Stillwater.  Thanks to Leon, Pam, John, Greg and the rest of the Stillwater group for being willing to take on this responsibility.  With their central location in the state, Stillwater typically has the best tournament turn-out of the three clubs in rotation for the state.  So let’s all get the word out, and get the entry numbers back up in 2017!

State Records Crushed the Past Two Weekends
In tournament action the past two weekends, two skiers have crushed two divisional records, one of these records being one of the longest standing records on the books!
Ryan Harris of Lexington and the Stillwater Ski Club established a new Men I trick record at the 43rd Kentucky Lake Open last weekend with 4,900 points.  He then proceeded to raise the bar again this weekend at the Cruises Creek Pick n Choose, scoring a total of 5,100 points.  This exceeded by 850 points the mark previous to this year, set by Steve Cecil in 1987, breaking a state record that had stood for almost 30 years.
Kassidy Hawkins of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, skiing at the Cruises Creek Pick n Choose, set a new mark in Girls 3 slalom with 94.5 buoys.  This shattered the previous record of 92 buoys held by Lauren Harris.
The performance by Kassidy is the top performance ever by any female Kentucky skier, and she has three more years in Girls 3 to improve on that mark.  The performance by Ryan is the first Kentucky skier to break the 5,000-point barrier, and this is his first year in
Men 1.
It’s safe to say we’re likely to see more records tumble in the Kentucky State Championships in two weeks, also being staged at Walton!


Kentucky Advanced Juniors Clinic Once Again a Smashing Success

The 14th consecutive Kentucky Advanced Juniors Clinic was held June 15th thru 17th at Twin Oaks Lakes in Paducah.  Fourteen skiers from Kentucky participated, with Stephen Seal of Florida taking the position of featured instructor.

As in the past, the clinic was a tremendous success.  Students received instruction in all three events from a wide range of instructors, including Seal, who has competed for several years in the Open Division of 3-event skiing.  Others who assisted with instruction and driving included Bob Harris, Eric Kelley, Ryan Harris (also a participant), Tim McKune, and Bobby Hill.  Joe Burkhead provided administrative direction and oversight, while Karen Kassel, Cathy Burkhead, and Tina Hill took care of food services for the week.

Thanks to the outstanding generosity of a number of donors to the Kentucky Water Sports Association, KWSA is sufficiently funded this year to reimburse the sponsoring club, the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, for the entire cost of the clinic (pending approval by the KWSA Board of Directors).  Thus, for the first time ever, the clinic was totally free to the skiers – including instruction, boats and gas, and lunches.  Those donors will remain unnamed in this article, as some will prefer to remain anonymous, but you know who you are, and KWSA and the junior skiers of our state greatly appreciate your generosity!!

Also, a special thanks to those who provided boats for the clinic:  Eric kelley, Tim McKune, Bob Harris/Karen Kassel, and the Malibu “Ownership Group.”  Without these boats, we would not be able to produce a quality clinic.

Juniors who participated in this year’s clinic were:  Austin Stomberger, Wyatt Fowler, Troy Fowler, Garnett Fowler, Jackson Hawes, Austin Collins, Ryan Harris, Chloe Kelley, Josh Kelley, Betsy McKune, Saylor Davidson, Kassidy Hawkins, Nick Roshelli, and Emily Sellers.

Pictured are 11 of the 14 juniors, plus lead instructor Stephen Seal, who took part in this year's Advanced Juniors Clinic


This is the first of what is intended to be regular President’s messages on the Kentucky website, covering items and issues of current interest to Kentucky water skiers.  They’ll be of no particular frequency, but I’ll make every effort to keep some fresh information in front of everybody.

This message has to do with three topics:

  • First – This is an excellent time to consider making a donation to the Kentucky Water Sports Association.  We’re in the middle of tournament season, the state Advanced Junior 3-Day Clinic is starting this week, we have the state tournament Junior Development Clinic coming up very soon, and there may be other projects around the state that need your support.  REMEMBER – All donations are completely tax deductible, and any water sports project that promotes improving the capabilities of our state’s water sports competitors is eligible for funding assistance.  Thus far, water skiing has received the bulk of the support generated by KWSA.

  • Second – To say that the response to my request for biographies of state water skiers for consideration of “Featured Skier of the Month” has been UNDER-whelming is a definite UNDER-statement!  Come on, everybody!  Get us some bios!  What I’m really looking for are bios and/or stories of lesser known skiers from around the state.  Just give us some basic data about their personal histories, their water skiing accomplishments (big or small), and their other interests.  A funny clip or anecdote would be a good addition.  And include a picture if you can possibly get one (but not an absolute requirement).  I’ll be waiting for the flood of submissions!

  • Third – It’s still not too late (but almost too late) to submit nominations for Junior Skier of the Year, Skier of the Year, Member of the Year, and Hall of Fame.  We haven’t had a lot of feedback thus far, and we’d like more input from around the state.  You don’t have to nominate for each award – you can do one or all four, or any number in between.  Please reference the website for specific information about each award.

Donations can be made out to the Kentucky Water Sports Association, and mailed to either Kathy Kesheimer or me (Joe Burkhead, 2345 Oaks Road, Paducah, KY  42003).  For the second and third items above, submit to me at and copy to Suzanne Webb at .

Good skiing to all,

Joe B
05/21/16  - Correction

Stillwater Lake is offering free entry to any skier making their first
tournament appearnce at either of Stillwater's slalom tournaments for 2016.  You must be a member os USAWS with at least the GrassRoots member level.  You must also be a member of KWSF, but Stillwater will pay the KWSF fee for you.  What a deal!  First time skiers will be allowed two falls or misses per round.  Our tournment dates are June 4 and September 3.  

Please check the box on your entry indicating FIRST TOURNAMENT."

Leon Leonard


To All Kentucky Federation Members,

We are in need of Nominations for Ski Year 2015 - Federations Awards,  in all  Four (4) categories:
  • Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2015 - KWSF Member of the year
  • 2015 - Jr. Skier of the year   
  • 2015 - Skier of the year

To have you nominees considered, you must submit to  by Monday June 6th.
Please include, a brief description of achievement, special involvement or other reason with your nominations.      

I look forward to hearing from many of you.  

Joy Coomes / Vice President KWSF

USA Waterski Volunteer of the Year!

Great job Bob,