UA water ski team wins regionalsBy Danielle Walker | 10/02/2013 11:00pm
Water skiing isn’t a sport widely discussed in West Alabama, especially on The University of Alabama campus. But the UA club team, Ski Bama, is a nationally ranked competitor, and team members are hoping to place in the top three at nationals in a few weeks.
The national championship will take place in Southern California Oct. 17-19. Last year, Ski Bama placed fourth overall.
The team earned its championship spot by placing first in the Eastern Regionals tournament last weekend. Team captain Zach Kachele, a sophomore majoring in marketing, said the team has placed in the top five nationally for the past 10 years.
Each collegiate competition consists of three events: slalom, trick and jump. Five women and five men from each team compete in the events, and four of those top scores will be taken into account for team standings.
Ski Bama has been able to make consecutive appearances at national competitions thanks to its ability to recruit members.
“Since we are a top skiing school and it really is only a club sport, we do not have rules guiding our recruiting,” Kachele said. “What we do as a team is find up-and-coming skiers and try to show them how badly they want to come to Alabama.”
Paul O’Hara, a junior majoring in management information systems, was recruited by Ski Bama and has been competing for the team since his freshman year.
O’Hara and teammate Ashley Combs, a sophomore majoring in psychology, have both been skiing since they were young and view the team as a great way to continue doing what they love.
“This has been an awesome continuation of my skiing that started around the time I was 6,” Combs said. “And [it’s] one of the best experiences I have had so far at the University.”
Like most sports, close friendships form between the team members, and Ski Bama is no exception. Kachele said the team has a “ski team house” where five men live during the year. It serves as a great place for the team to hang out together when it isn’t on the lake training.
“We have an unbelievably close group of people that manage to stay great friends after traveling and living together every weekend,” O’Hara said. “The water ski team is why I attend The University of Alabama, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”