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Hall Of Fame Inductions Held Saturday

The American Water Ski Educational Foundation held its 31st annual hall of fame induction ceremony on Saturday night at The Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Fla. Kristi Overton-Johnson, Cory Pickos and Jim Grew were the 64th, 65th and 66th inductees into the AWSEF Hall of Fame, which is located in Polk City, Fla. The 2013 Award of Distinction recipients, also honored during the AWSEF Hall of Fame inductions, were: Bob Alkema, Tony Baggiano, Mary Gail Holcombe, Gordon Rathbun and Jack Wilson.

Overton-Johnson won nearly every women's slalom title imaginable, including the 1999 Pan American Games and Water Ski World Championships. She dominated professional water skiing since turning pro in 1983 when she competed in her first Masters Water Ski Tournament. She was a four-time U.S. Open champion and six-time Masters' champion. Her final professional victory came at the 2002 Masters.

Prior to her Masters' debut, Overton-Johnson dominated the junior ranks, setting records that were still in existence two decades later. She won her first Masters' tricks title in 1985 and climbed her way to the No. 1 ranking in the world in the tricks event before becoming a slalom specialist in 1989. Her greatest achievement was winning the 1999 women’s world slalom title.

Overton-Johnson set a new women's world slalom record of 4 buoys at 39-1/2 feet off in August 1996 and increased it to 1 buoy at 41 feet off in September 1996. She was the sole owner of the world record for the next 12 years until it was tied by Australia's Karina Nowlan in 2008 and U.S. athlete Regina Jaquess in 2009, and eventually surpassed by Jaquess in 2010. 

Pickos was a tricks skiing phenomenon at an early age, having won his first professional tournament at age 12 and setting his first world record at age 13. During his lengthy career as a tricks skier, Pickos set 24 world records, was the first person to eclipse the 10,000-point mark, and he won back-to-back world championships in 1981 and 1983. He also won 10 U.S. Open titles and 10 Masters' titles.

Pickos also is the youngest member in the history of the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team. He was selected a member of the team at the age of 13 and competed in his first world championship in 1977. He competed as a U.S. Elite Water Ski Team member or as an independent in almost every Water Ski World Championships thereafter, a span of 32 years that may never be duplicated. It culminated in 2009 in Canada, where he and his son, Adam, both advanced to the finals.

Originally from Kenosha, Wis., Pickos was a self-taught skier. After he and his brother, Craig, finished first and second in Open Men tricks at the 1978 Water Ski National Championships in Tivoli Gardens, Mich., his parents moved the family to Florida to give the boys an opportunity to train year round. Pickos has operated a ski school since he was 16 years old, and has owned and operated the Cory Pickos World Ski Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., for more than 20 years.

Grew, a USA Water Ski member since 1975, is an American Water Ski Association Senior Judge, Senior Scorer/Calculator and Level 3 Coach Course Conductor. He has worked as an appointed judge or scorer at the Water Ski World Championships, Junior Water Ski World Championships, Disabled Water Ski World Championships, Pan American Water Ski Championships, Water Ski National Championships, U.S. Open, Masters, Junior U.S. Open and Disabled Water Ski National Championships.

His volunteer experience to the sport has been vast for more than 20 years. He has served on dozens of committees and boards over the past two decades for the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation, International Disabled Council, American Water Ski Educational Foundation, USA Water Ski, American Water Ski Association, Water Skiers with Disabilities Association and Florida Water Ski Federation. He has served as team manager/captain for the U.S. Elite Water Ski Team, U.S. Under 21 Water Ski Team, U.S. Pan American Championships Water Ski Team, U.S. Junior Water Ski Team and U.S. Americas' Challenge Water Ski Team. He is a two-time recipient of USA Water Ski’s Volunteer of the Year Award and was the recipient of USA Water Ski's Award of Merit in 2001. He has been the board chairman for the AWSEF since 2005 and a trustee since 1993. He also has been an AWSEF Scholarship Committee member since 1993 and an Executive & Finance Committee member since 2005.


Bob founded Malibu Boats in 1982 in a small shop in Merced, California. During the first year of operation, Malibu only built two boats per week using a single-hull design. Under Bob’s conservative mantra, the tuck and roll upholstery reflected his persistent perfectionism. By 1984, Malibu was building more than 400 boats a year. In 1988, with a nine percent share of the market, the California plant was at full production. To satisfy increased demand, the company opened a second plant in Tennessee. By the end of the year, Malibu had built almost 1,000 custom ski boats and had been awarded its first of many-to-come product excellence awards from industry publications.


Tony served on the American Water Ski Educational Foundation board of trustees for more than 20 years. He served on the AWSEF’s Executive and Finance Committee and Investment Committee, and was the chairman of the Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee and Lake Fund-raising Committee, where he raised $180,000 so the lake construction could get under way. He also was heavily involved with the American Water Ski Association for more than 30 years, devoting his time as a senior judge, team manager and coach, and chairman of the board.


Mary Gail served as an American Water Ski Educational Foundation board of trustee for 25 years. She served on the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for 10 years, Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee for 14 years, and the Nominating Committee for 12 years. She also served as an American Water Ski Association senior judge. She was an appointed Nationals’ official for more than a decade, and was chief judge of the Nationals in 1983. She was the first woman to chief judge the Masters (1994) and was an appointed official at the Masters from 1983-2009.


Gordon has been coaching slalom skiing for nearly 30 years. He was a competitive water skier for more than 20 years, winning multiple slalom titles at the regional and national level. He also was well known for his publicity work, including skiing on 49 lakes in one day. Since 1989 he has been the owner of Ski Paradise resort in Acapulco, Mexico, which features high-class accommodations in addition to water skiing, and brings in prominent guest coaches.


Jack turned his focus from slalom skiing to towboat driving in 1970 when he began driving local tournaments in southern California. In 1971 he drove for the water ski show that celebrated the opening of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, Arizona. He was a perfectionist and his driving skills improved each year as he made his way up to Senior Driver. By 1981 he was driving the Regionals and Nationals. He was a driver at the Nationals from 1981 to 1984 and 1986 to 1989. He also drove at the 1989 Water Ski World Championships.
The purpose of the Water Ski Hall of Fame is to honor and perpetuate the names and accomplishments of skiers, pioneers and officials whose dedication and competitive achievements at national and international levels have brought lasting fame to the sport of water skiing. Four categories of membership have been approved by the AWSEF's board of trustees: competitive water skiers, including participants in traditional water skiing, barefoot skiing, ski racing and any other nationally competitive individual discipline recognized by USA Water Ski and approved by the AWSEF board of trustees; water skiing pioneers; water skiing officials; and show skiing. For eligibility requirements and more information, visit the official Web site of the American Water Ski Educational Foundation at www.waterskihalloffame.com.
















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