Barefooters win BIG at the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Annual Award Ceremony

What an incredible weekend at the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Annual Awards Ceremony!  Barefooters won BIG taking home six awards.

Lexi McCauley won the prestigious USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Female Athlete of the Year and the American Barefoot Club Female Athlete of the Year.  Jackson Gerard won American Barefoot Club Athlete of the Year for his incredible year.  Jimmy Tauras won ABC Coach of the Year, Ben Groen won ABC Volunteer of the Year and Megan Adams won for ABC Rising Superstar but was unable to attend.

Check out the award nominations and pictures from Saturday night in Lakeland:

Lexi McCauley
2019 USA Water Ski Female Athlete of the Year
2019 ABC Female Athlete of the Year

Lexi McCauley

Lexi McCauley loves barefoot waterskiing and she shares this passion with everyone around her.  No longer a junior, her sense of fair play and sportsmanship makes her a role model for so many young American barefoot athletes. This attitude and drive helped her to become one of the best female barefoot water skiers ever in the United States and in the world.

Lexi continued to accomplish many goals during the 2019 Barefoot season and after graduating from high school made the commitment to move to the World Barefoot Center in Florida to train full-time.  At the U.S. Barefoot Nationals, she won first overall and personal bests in slalom and tricks again.  She ended her nationals run by forgetting her trick run and still setting a U.S. National Record of 5800 points in tricks.

USA National Ranking: 1st Overall
Pan Am Ranking: 1st Overall
2019 National Performance: Open Women’s 1st Overall
(Gold in Tricks and Slalom, Silver in Jump)
2019 Pan Am Performance: Open Women’s 1st Overall: Gold in Tricks, Jump and Slalom.
2019 Tournament Bests:
Tricks 5800 – Slalom 15.4 – Jump 11.3m
2019 New National Record:
Open Women’s Tricks 5800 points

Jackson Gerard
2019 ABC Male Athlete of the Year

Jackson Gerard

Jackson Gerard is leading a changing of the guard in American Barefoot Water Skiing… and 2019 was an incredible year for the 17-year-old.

Jackson left his junior days behind and took his place in U.S. History by replacing Keith St. Onge at the top of the podium at the U.S. Barefoot Nationals.

Jackson won the Open Pro Overall title for the first time, taking the gold in tricks, slalom and jumping all while volunteering at the tournament and helping organizers.

It was the first time a footer not named St. Onge or Scarpa took the U.S. National title in more than two decades.

2019 World Rankings:
Open Men’s – 2nd Overall, 2nd Slalom, 2nd Tricks, 13th Jump
PanAm Ranking: 1st Overall
2019 USA National Ranking: 1st Overall
2019 National Performance: Open Pro Mens
1st Overall, Slalom, Tricks and Jump
2019 Personal Bests:
Tricks 11,600 – Slalom 19.0 – Jump 23.8 m

Jimmy Tauras
2019 ABC Coach of the Year

jimmy & sammie
Jimmy Tauras was nominated by Sammi Eaton

Jimmy Tauras wants everyone to barefoot waterski and have fun.  For years, he has donated his personal time to coach barefooters and motivate a brand-new generation in his favorite sport!

These past two summers, Jimmy has been my coach, on and off the water. He has created in me such a deep passion for barefoot waterskiing. Jimmy is continuously enthusiastic about the sport, always thrives to be on the water, and is a great influencer for our sport. As a coach, he pushes me, and every other person who skis with him, to be the best they can be. The amount of effort, time, and persistence he devotes into his skiers is unreal.

He constantly hopes the best for people.  Jimmy has not only been a coach, but he’s been a father-figure and mentor to me. Jimmy opened his home up to me, and treated me like family. I have learned so many life lessons from him, and continue to learn more and more every day. Two years ago, I was naive, timid, and scared when it came to skiing. He did not give up on me, despite how difficult things were.

I am now a solid skier, and the improvement is credited all to him as I have grown and experienced. He has been so patient with me, but yet makes it known that I must work hard for what I want. I am who I am today because of a great coach like him. I cannot think of a single person who is more deserving of an award like this. – Sammi Eaton

Ben Groen
2019 ABC Volunteer of the Year 

Ben Groen

Ben Groen is a World-Class Barefoot Athlete and the ABC’s Ultimate Volunteer.  Not quite 30 years old and recovering from back surgery, Ben donated thousands of hours of his personal time for years to the American Barefoot Club and the Southern Region.

Ben could just attend tournaments and bask in the glory of his adoring fans.  But Ben doesn’t sit still.  He is a Level 2 Judge, Scorer, Driver and Homologator… and has organized dozens of tournaments since he arrived in the U.S. eight years ago.

The only reason many tournaments happen is because he pitches in and makes it happen.  From installing jump courses, running Splash Eye, judging, scoring, announcing, recruiting new skiers to generally running a PR machine for the sport of barefooting.

When the ABC needs help, he is usually the first one in line to donate his time and talents. He even stores the Southern Regional equipment trailer in his backyard and spends his personal time caring for the region’s two jump ramps. He also built the region’s floating dock and designed the region’s ship-to-shore system.  His help has been integral in the past four barefoot nationals!

Megan Adams
2019 ABC Rising Super Star

Megan Adams

We consider Megan Adams to be a teenage barefoot ninja who is only now showing her incredible potential in barefoot water skiing.

Megan has grown up volunteering at tournaments and generally working her butt off helping her family host tournaments. In 2016, she helped her father host the Barefoot World Championships in Alma Center, Wisconsin. If you skied that tournament you undoubtedly saw Megan either running video in the boat or running around helping everyone.

But 2019 was a pivotal year for the young Minnesotan who keeps in shape in the off-season with Alpine Ski Racing, working out on her homemade “Ninja Warrior” course in the backyard and shoe skiing on the frozen lake behind her home towed by her brother’s motorcycle.

This was the year, she decided to focus on her barefoot training and it showed.  She still volunteered and worked hard off the water at tournaments, and she never stopped encouraging and supporting competitors young and old, but she raised her skiing to a new level.  Her tricks score went from 640 to 1290 adding back toes to her run and a toe-up. Her slalom score went from 3.0 to 7.6 with backward crossings… working on one-foots.  And she started jumping!

This quiet champion was just named the sole young woman on the 2020 USA Junior Barefoot Team and will compete in Australia in April.  She is the future of our sport, leading young women across this country to try barefooting and compete.

*Megan was unable to attend awards ceremony

Congrats to all!

Lexi McCauley & Alex Youngblood
mikey lexi
Lexi McCauley & Mikey Caruso

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