By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — At the age of five, Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skier Molly Schaefer jumped into the world of waterskiing, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Now 14, Schaefer will be one of many to take part in the Wisconsin State Waterski Tournament in late July. Her love for the water began in her hometown where her family lives on Lake Wausau, however, according to her mother Shannon Schaefer, she had to overcome her fear of the water first.
“She was actually afraid of the water,” said Shannon Schaefer. “I knew she had to conquer that fear, so we took her to a few waterski shows.”
After watching the show filled with many feats of athleticism combined with flashy costumes, her daughter slowly started to lose that fear. From that point on, Molly went from a fear of a water, to now picking up and adding swivel-skiing to her to her repertoire.
“She has has so many female role models that are trying to develop the sport of swivel-skiing, so she’s learned from them, and the sport has kind of taken off in the last couple years,” said Shannon Schaefer.
Molly has taken that inspiration and guidance and has turned it into success, picking up mutiple awards in her short career, including Most Female Valuable Skier in last year’s Division II National Tournament. The sky is the limit for Molly, who not only wants one day for waterskiing to become an Olympic sport, but sees her time with the Aqua Skiers as a time for growth.
“I learn a lot from the Aqua Skiers — they’re way more experienced than many of the teams and really know what its like to compete,” said Molly Schaefer. “I hope to be on the team for a long time because I want to become an all-around better skier. Even if I live far away, I feel like this is the best team for me.”
Molly echoes sentiments shared by many — that of a very inclusive and welcoming community, not just from the Aqua Skiers, but the waterski community as a whole. It’s a group that will always strive to better each other.
“I enjoy skiing with people that can do the same things as me, so we can talk about it and give each other advice,” said Molly Schaefer. “Everyone helps each other.”