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Blast from the Past: Jennifer Calleri

Jennifer calleri

Jennifer Calleri (USA) spent fifteen years competing and won four World Championships and seven Overall National titles. She was inducted in the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 2002. Her complete biography can be found here:

Water Ski Hall of Fame Jennifer Calleri

1. Tell us about the first time you barefoot water skied. When was this and where?  Who taught you?  

In 1979 at age 10, I learned to barefoot from Shermalot club member Tom Cavanaugh on Lake Arrowhead in Nekoosa. Tom would place me between his two skis until I got the hang of it. It took less than a handful of falls before Jennifer was barefooting on her own. In August of that year I barefooted in the Show Nationals – stepping off a slalom ski long line. That event gave me my first appearance in The Water Skier magazine.

2.  How many years have you been barefooting?

I competed for 15 years.

3. Who was/is your favorite instructor/mentor/coach?

Mike Seipel….Ron Scarpa and  Lane Bowers….all were amazing coaches and influential at different times in my career

4. What are some memorable moments of barefooting?

Traveling the world water skiing. Had an amazing life on the water.

5. Where and when was your first tournament? Tell us about that experience.

1981….I skied at the State and  regional tournaments but remember my first nationals in  defiance, Oh where I told the boat driver to “nail it to 25 and don’t baby me!” My first nationals and first National title as Jr Girls National Champion.

6. What was your most memorable tournament and why?

My last World Championships in Fergus Fall,  Minnesota.  I skied a personal best in all three events..setting national record in jump and world records in both slalom and tricks…what a way to retire!

6. What has been the most challenging skill to learn in barefooting?

One foot turns…I am convinced that my neck still hurts…never able to do them in a tournament, never consistent enough or brave enough to practice them on a regular basis.

7. Who inspires/ed you in barefooting?  

Banana George for his persistence and resilience, Mike Seiple for his business sense and Ron Scarpa for making me believe in myself.

8. What is a favorite quote or lesson you live by?

Always finish what you start and never let anyone tell you, “you are not good enough!”

9. What was your greatest accomplishment in barefooting? 

4 time world champion and 2002 inductee into Water Ski Hall of Fame.

10. What advice would you give to someone in the sport today? 

Always compete for yourself and against your own personal bests…


About: Karen

Contributing writer for WaterSki and The Waterskier. Author of Barefoot Water Skiing: From Weekend Warrior to Competitor. Co-author of Gliding Soles with Keith St. Onge. Barefoot junkie.

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