ABC Awards History

2017 ABC Awards

International Award of Distinction: Pete Taylor

The World of Barefooting lost one of its own this past winter and the board voted to send a posthumous Award of Distinction to the family of Australian Pete Taylor.  He was barefooting’s biggest fan, competing in several world championships and spreading the barefoot love around the world.  The ABC is honoring the Family of Pete Taylor with an international award of distinction.

JRO Spirit Award: Brice Storman

Sometimes his jump helmet seems bigger than his whole body and his padded shorts tend to fall down… but this young man is quietly climbing the ladder of barefoot waterskiing… breaking into open at 13, Open Pro in tricks at 14.  This super star is setting the water on fire.

But barefooting is just part of what he does, he pitches in at tournaments with video, dock starting, and clean up… always asking what he can help with. His positive attitude and cleverness will boost your mood. And if you are ever in the boat with him… you can’t help but smile. He never gives up and continues to train pushing himself to be better. But we already think he’s the best.  Brice Storman is this year’s Jennifer Renee Odom Spirit Award Winner.

Banana George Barefooter of the Year: Joe Knapp

He has been the backbone of the Minnesota Barefooters Association for decades. He is the one thread that has been constant throughout.  With the MBA Club boat owner having to quit barefooting for health reasons Joe has stepped up to purchase half of the club boat.

He is one of just two skiers to have skied in every Barefoot Nationals with this being his 40th.  This is a remarkable achievement I think unprecedented in probably any sport.

He has not just gone out and participated but has been competitive his entire career and usually can be seen on the podium at every Nationals.

He recently has committed himself to qualify for the 2018 World Championships in Canada.  Besides being a competitive barefooter he is a great ambassador to the sport. I see him going out of his way to make new skiers, young and old feel welcome at every tournament.

He is also a Level 2 Judge and at many tournaments stays in the boat for the entire day and only gets out to ski himself.

He deserves to be acknowledged as Barefooter of the Year…. Here’s to 40 more years of barefoot nationals with Joe Knapp!

 Community Barefooter Award: Brent Payne

Although he has just recently become involved into the sport of Barefoot Waterskiing he has jumped in with both feet!  Hosting FREE clinics to anyone who signs up, taking the time to set it up, hire a professional, allowing the use of his own boat, all simply for great camaraderie and new footing friends.  Though this generous event it has brought new footers into the sport and old footers out of the driver’s seat. nominate Brent Payne for the ABC Community Champion Award.

Award of Distinction: Heller Family

What the Heller family has done for the Midwest Region, American Barefoot Club and the World of Barefooting is remarkable.
Blake Heller decided to build a Barefoot specific lake for his three children, Elaine, Cody and Shannon, to train on in the mid 2000’s. Blake invited the Minnesota Barefooters to host the Midwest Regional tournament there in 2007which we were ecstatic about.  That was the beginning of 10 years straight hosting the Regional tournament, hosting five National Championships and one World Championship. All this time the entire family has played a critical role in making sure all the tournaments held at the Blue Moo run successfully. Never once has the Heller Family asked for anything in return and continued to improve the site year after year.

The Heller Family deserves to be recognized with an American Barefoot Club Award of Distinction for their commitment and dedication to the sport of Barefoot Water skiing.

 Stew McDonald Lifetime Achievement Award: Jim Forster

This man is the reason we have boats ready to every day at nationals. He quietly works in the background, often the first person on the site in the morning and the last to leave.  He is dedicated and focused on doing an amazing job.  Always. Down to the last boat.  He cleans, he fixes, he nurtures tournament boats to perform their very best.  Boats often leave his tournaments in BETTER SHAPE!

He has also served on the ABC Board of Directors from the Southern Region for many years… hosting the Legendary PGA Season Opener for nearly a decade.  He has been a driver in 50 tournaments, served as Chief Driver in 20 tournaments and Assistant Chief Driver at 15 tournaments.

For his unselfish contributions to Barefoot Waterskiing… Jim Forster deserves the Stew McDonald Lifetime Achievement Award.


Jennifer Odom Spirit Award
Candidates, either male or female, must be junior barefoot Skiers (16 years and under) who
display a spirit of helpfulness, a positive attitude, enthusiasm, the ability to get along well with
other skiers and officials, good sportsmanship, and a willingness to share positive
experiences with peers. Candidates do not necessarily have to be champion skiers. Jennifer
Odom Spirit Award candidates will be nominated by the appointed officials at each of the five
Regional Championships and submitted in writing with a skier’s biography to the ABC Awards
Chairman. The recipient of the ward will be announced and honored at the
ABC Awards banquet on Saturday evening. This memorial award is in honor of Jennifer Odom,
a former junior girls National Barefoot Competitor, who was abducted in Pasco Country Florida
in February of 1993 and later found murdered.
Year Name
1993 Jennifer Harris
1994 PJ Nassar
1995 Rachel George
1996 ??
1997 Derek Koch
1998 Toby George
1999 Matt Wright
2000 Jared Lee
2001 Mark Williamson
2002 Royal Wiseman
2003 Nolan Lough
2004 Andrew Martin
2005 Haley Thomas
2006 Wilson Schkade
2007 Shannon Heller
2008 Allie Jameson
2009 John Pressendo
2010 Taylor True
2011 Kailey Koehler
2012 Lisa Pressendo
2013 Chandler Cargile
2014 Brody Meskers
2015 Alex Youngblood
2016 Stefan Lippelgoos
2017 Brice Storman
Banana George Blair Barefooter of the Year
This award is given annually to a person or organization in recognition of accomplishments,
contributions and service to the sport of barefoot-waterskiing both on and or off the water over
the past year. The award recipient represents a true ambassador to our sport – someone who
has distinguished himself/herself above and beyond all others in serving the sport. Nominee
must be a current ABC member, with preference given to US citizenship.
Nominations should convey specific examples of how the nominee personifies the criteria and
spirit of the award such as: How has the nominee contributed time, resources, and abilities to
the sport of barefooting consistent with the title “Barefooter of the Year.” (Inception 1992)
Year Name
1992 George Blair
1993 Sam Spano
1994 Oscar Foot Mann
1995 Jennifer Calleri
1996 Keith St. Onge
1997 Dawn Farrell
1998 Brent Benoist
1999 Brian Heeney
2000 John Kretchman
2001 Tad Honsinger
2002 Tim Pellaton
2003 Derek Koch
2004 Rachel George
2005 Mike Salber
2006 Doug Jordan
2007 Joe Lovato
2008 Kevin Towers
2009 Judy Meyers
2010 Brad Pegg
2011 Stuart Parsons
2012 Cody Ebbert
2013 Mike Holt
2014 None
2015 World Barefoot Center
2016 Cody Heller
2017 Joe Knapp

Stew McDonald Long Time Service Award

This award is given annually to recognize the person(s) who has contributed to the sport of
barefooting for at least ten years. The award recipient is someone who has distinguished
himself/herself above and beyond all other individuals in serving the sport. Nominee should be a
current ABC member, with preference given to US citizenship.
Nominations should convey specific examples of how the nominee personifies the criteria and
spirit of the award such as: How has the nominee contributed time, resources, and abilities to
the sport of barefooting consistent with the title “Long Time Service Award.” How has the
nominee avidly supported ABC tournaments and other programs as a participant, administrator,
official, or fund-raiser? (Inception 1994)
Year Name
1994 Stew MacDonald
1995 Mike Seipel
1996 Sam Spano
1997 Ed Finley
1998 Don Mixon Sr.
1999 Joel Brookshire
2000 Jim Boyette
2001 Joe Knapp
2002 Oscar ‘Foot’ Mann
2003 Doug and Pat Koch
2004 Andrea Eggert
2005 Banana George Blair
2006 Brian Heeney
2007 Jan Cummings
2008 Dale Stevens
2009 Dan Cummings
2010 Jimmy Taurus
2011 Lee Stone
2012 Jerry Kanawyer
2013 Gary “Swampy” Bouchard
2014 Paul Adams
2015 John Boyd
2016 Mike Molepske – Betsy Gilman
2017 Jim Forster

ABC Athlete of the Year

Consider this barefooting’s MVP award. The ABC Athlete of the Year Award is given in recognition of outstanding athletic accomplishments and sportsmanship on the water.  While participation in all parts of barefooting is recognized, the criteria of this award is based upon athletic performance— Barefooters who have distinguished themselves on a national and/or international stage. The recipients can be nominated by anyone and are voted on by the ABC Board of Directors.  The award is given out at the USA Waterski Annual Awards Banquet in January.

Year ABC Female Athlete of the Year Year Male Athlete of the Year
1999 Lorraine Piskura 1999 Keith St. Onge
2000 Rachel George 2000 Ron Scarpa
2001 Rachel George 2001 Keith St. Onge
2002 Andrea Eggert 2002 William Farrell
2003 Dawn Farrel 2003 Al Morrison
2004 Theresa Hoffman 2004 Keith St. Onge
2005 Rachel George-Normand 2005 Ron Scarpa
2006 Jody Sherwood 2006 Keith St. Onge
2007 Elaine Heller 2007 Kevin Towers
2009 Elaine Heller 2009 Keith St. Onge
2010 Elaine Heller 2010 Adin Daneker
2011 Elaine Heller 2011 Broderick Meskers
2012 Teri Larson-Jones 2012 Johnathan Martines
2013 Lauren St.Onge 2013 Keith St. Onge
2014 Kailey Koehler 2014 Cody Heller
2015 Shannon Heller 2015 Landen Ehlers

Award of Distinction

Year Name
2010 Brian Heeney
2013 Keith St. Onge
2014 Lee Stone
2015 None
2016 Jim Boyette
2017 The Heller Family

Barefoot Community Award

Year Name
2013 Morris Lavelady
2014 None
2015 None
2016 Max Adams
2017 Brent Payne
 (Note not all awards are awarded each year)
Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 Oct 2017 )


  1. It is sad to see that very little of the history of the ABC or the awards from 1970’s to approx. 1992 is recognized.


    1. John, Any history that you can provide for us will be published. Unfortunately, this is the only information I was provided. Do you know where we can obtain information from 1970’s-1992?


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