Ali Mollett: Being on the BGSU waterski club team has its perks
By Bob Cunningham
When you think of sports clubs, most universities have old standbys such as baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball and the like.
Some schools might even be known nationally for a specific sport. For instance, Bowling Green State University is notable for its highly successful rugby program.
Then there are sports like waterskiing, which, as it turns out, can have a profound effect on student-athletes who want to continue their passion for a sport while attending college.
Ali Mollett has waterskied her “whole life.” She didn’t see a reason to stop once she went away to college. In fact, it actually narrowed her choices of where to go.
“I specifically came to Bowling Green because there was a waterski team,” said Mollett, who is the club’s president. “I grew up on a waterski lake, so I knew when I went to college I wanted to find one that had a waterski team so I could be part of collegiate waterskiing.”
Plus, Bowling Green is only two and a half hours from her hometown, Canton, Ohio. “BGSU is the perfect distance from my home — not too far away and not too close,” Mollett said.
Ethan Engel, coordinator of competitive sports, said sports clubs are important for students’ health and vitality at the University.
“Sports clubs are very important,” said Engel, who started working at BGSU in August 2016. “Sports clubs are a higher level of competition, so it provides an outlet for students who want to play at that higher level similar to high school sports. It’s important that students can continue to play a sport that they love. Or, if they’re interested in a new sport they want to be a part of, it’s a way for them to gain that experience. We have some very successful clubs that have gone on to national tournaments and other things, so it’s really great and they serve as ambassadors for the University in terms of sport.
“Being able to offer some of these clubs where students can go compete at a regional or national level and drawing that kind of interest is crucial to help grow enrollment, but it also means BGSU gets a student who’s invested in the club and the sport and wants to see it grow and see it succeed. It’s also really fun to see someone like Ali, who’s passionate about the sport and she’s able to stay involved with something that she loves.”
Mollett said there are six universities in Ohio that have waterski teams. She chose BGSU over the others because she wanted to major in Tourism, Leisure and Event Planning.
The waterski team, which is coed, has been at BGSU for about 20 years or so, she said. Her twin brother, Trace, is also on the team.
“At the moment we are thriving and doing really well because we have people on the team who really know how to waterski and enjoy the sport,” Mollett said.
Due to unreliable weather in the Midwest, the waterski season is fairly short, lasting just three weekends in September. Typically, there are 12 to 15 teams from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, all from the Great Lakes Conference, at each tournament.
There are three team events at each tournament — slalom, trick skiing and ski jumping — and points are earned based on time and performance. The first tournament is held in Harrison, Ohio, near Cincinnati. The other two are at the Pleasant Shores Ski Club in Van Wert, Ohio, about 90 minutes southwest of Bowling Green.
“The Pleasant Shores site owner is amazing,” Mollett said. “He’s held collegiate tournaments for 20 years now and just does a fabulous job. He has the perfect site and location for everyone.
“This year was the first time that I am aware of that BGSU qualified for the regionals in Decatur, Ill., so we were super excited about that. We ended up in 13th place. We were happy to not get last because there were some really good teams out there.”
There really isn’t anything close to a home course for the club to practice, but one of the team captains, Erik Paulson, brings his ski boat to school so the team can practice on the Maumee River. The team also is helped out by BGSU alumni Todd Boatfield ’92 and Ken Flower ’99.
While purchasing a boat for the team may be unrealistic, the club does have its sights set on obtaining a trailer to haul their equipment to tournaments.
“We have a couple of alumni who have Lakewood boats which they let us use on the Maumee River and the Sandusky River,” Mollett said. “Before school starts, we have the team come to my house in Canton because we have ski boats and the slalom course, so we got them all brushed up before we head back to school. Other than that we don’t really have a lot of resources, but we manage.”