One of the oldest water ski show teams in the United States today, the Min-Aqua Bats Water Ski Club originated in 1950 with a group of local young people water skiing on Sunday afternoons. After noticing their efforts were attracting an audience, the skiers decided to put together a show. And so the Min-Aqua Bats Water Ski Club was born.
By 1952, the members had drafted a charter, set up the club as a nonprofit organization, constructed a handmade jump and started performing shows on a regular basis. In order to pay for the rapidly expanding show and the necessary safety equipment the skiers began our tradition of “passing the bucket”. These young performers were delighted by the support received from the audience and local townspeople.
The popularity of the shows was overwhelming. Soon the club was able to afford its first boat, a red, white and blue Correct Craft, purchased in 1952. Bleachers, lighting and a clubhouse were added by 1956. The concession stand, run by the club members’ parents, was established in 1982.
Many of the acts performed in the show today were developed and perfected during the early years of the Min-Aqua Bats Water Ski Club. The doubles and trio acts, now standard parts of nearly all amateur and professional water ski shows, originated with the Bats in the 1950’s. Each season brings daring, innovative and graceful performances to the beautiful waters of Lake Minocqua, and a few new acts are always included in the show.
Besides performing three nights a week, the Min-Aqua Bats compete in tournaments throughout the Midwest. Club members have won numerous trophies and medals in slalom, trick, jumping, and barefooting events, competing in state, regional, and national levels. In the past twenty years, a Min-Aqua Bat has won the State Three Event Tournament (slalom, trick, jump) approximately thirteen times. The Min-Aqua Bats also won the Wisconsin State Show Tournament twice in 1968 and 1971. The National Water Ski Tournament and Midwest Regional Tournament have also been held at the Aqua Bowl. The Min-Aqua Bats have taken their show on the road several times, performing in Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Spooner, and Gary as well as other communities throughout Wisconsin.
Club members have been known to hail from as far off places as Mexico and Hawaii, to as close as right here in Minocqua and Woodruff. Some ski for college teams and others have gone on to fame in such professional shows as Tommy Bartlett’s, Sea World and Cypress Gardens. All, however, enjoy volunteering their time, energy and enthusiasm in order to put on one of the best amateur water ski shows in the nation.
Bill Basset, Tom Bolger, Dick Herbert, Norb Brost, Pete Streich, Jim Snyder, Mike Bolger, Cy Hglund, Gil Keith, Tom Beech, Jim Fry, Tom Krolczyk, Pat Alborn, Rob Shuetz, Woody Hagge, Kit Stolen, Craig Wendt, Tim Krolczyk, John Ames, Bill Schofield, Guy Piaseki, Dave Beiser, Matt Ross, Tom Reck, Billy Fried, Lance Krolczyk, Bill Ross, Mike Fleming, Pat Ahern, Bruce Smith, Chad Dummermuth, Rusty Swallish, Mike Snyder, John Thompson, Chris McEachron, Tom Cote, Brent Rogers, Bugsy Hansen, Kyle McDonough, Eric Rogers, Brian Willis, Jake Kozisek, Jennifer Coleman, Greg Peckels, Jay Ryden, Dan Emerson, Jack Idlas, Dan Emerson, Mark Ritter, Christian Wahman, Andrew Donahoe, Aaron Coleman, Elin Wahman, Austin Foster, Josh Lash, Charlotte Patterson, and Kyle Foster.