One of Minnesota’s “Chosen Frozen” is now in the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame.
Sometimes, the good guys do finish first.
Joe Knapp is a perennial barefoot water skiing cheerleader who celebrates other’s victories more than his own. At just a bit more than 60 years young, Joe has competed in every one of the 40 U.S. Barefoot National Tournaments. And he hasn’t just competed in the tournaments and gone home. The current president of the Minnesota Barefooters Association, has organized, judged, scored and of course, inspired.
“I feel blessed I am still able to do this… Every single time I hit the water I am in hog heaven. I am just focused on getting on the water,” says Joe who first learned to barefoot in Gideon’s Bay, Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota on June 6, 1976. Yes, June 6 is Joe Knapp’s barefoot D-Day!
Joe Knapp was inducted into the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame on May 18 in a suburb of the Twin Cities. Many current and former barefooters attended the ceremony to honor the man who has supported them for generations.
“It was very humbling. I didn’t feel like I shoulda been there… it was a powerful night,” says Joe. “In my age group, I do pretty well. But I am no Jon Kretchman.”
But like USA Water Ski Hall of Famer Jon Kretchman, Joe has been known to barefoot in sub-zero conditions. Yup, barefooting on New Year’s Day in Minnesota is not for sissies. And Joe has definitely out-distanced Jon in years competing.
Each year, the Minnesota Senior Sports Association honors those individuals whose activities and accomplishments demonstrate, encourage, and inspire the mental and physical fitness of senior men and women through individual and team sports participation and competition.
Joe is in good company, but we think he is the best of anyone in the MSSA Hall of Fame. The Excelsior, Minnesota native is known for his humor and kindness. Joe is, above all, a really nice guy.
The award was presented by John Patterson, Minnesota’s own barefooting comedian.
“I really just went to listen to John. I wrote my speech on the way to the ceremony. It was difficult to put 40 years of barefooting into just few minutes,” says Joe who was the 2017 American Barefoot Club’s Barefooter of the Year.
“My Legacy? I don’t give it a second thought. I am just busy trying to make my toe-up,” say Joe, who plans on attending this year’s nationals.
Congrats Joe! You have left us, and Minnesota, a true legacy!
Below is an excerpt from the program and some more great photos!
– Competed in all 40 Barefoot National Championships in Slalom, Trick & Jump