Industry News

2016 Hall of Fame Award of Distinction Announced

The USA Water Ski Foundation Hall of Fame Selection Committee is proud to announce the 2016 Water Ski Hall of Fame Award of Distinction recipients.

Paul Boel, Leza Harrison, Hank Longo, Les Todd and Mark Voisard have made extraordinary contributions to our sport and will be honored on April 16th at the Water Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies along with Hall of Fame Inductees Gerry & Cathy Luiting, Will Farrell, Lori Dunsmore and Marty Wells.  The Award of Distinction recognizes tournament skiers, innovators, industry leaders, officials and others responsible for landmark achievements in the development of water skiing as well as those whose long periods of dedicated and generous service deserve special recognition.

Involved in water skiing since 1956, Paul Boel was a pioneer in our sport. As one of the original organizers of the Michigan Water Ski Association, Paul developed the private Tivoli Gardens Lake site in the early 1960s and has been hosting major water ski events there for more than 50 years. Besides local, collegiate, state and professional tournaments, Paul hosted the 1976 Midwest Regionals and the 1978 Nationals, which drew more than 28,000 spectators. It was the largest number of spectators to ever attend a Nationals. Paul was the Men 6 national jumping champion in 1991 and Men 10 national jumping champion in 2006. He also was the first Senior Men competitor to jump 100 feet. Paul was inducted into the Michigan Water Ski Association’s Hall of Fame in 1987 and is an active, long-time financial supporter and board of trustee for the USA Water Ski Foundation.

Leza Harrison started water skiing at the age of 20 at Rollins College. What started out as a fun pastime on the collegiate ski team led to an amazing career that is still going strong. Leza has won the Correct Craft Ski Nautique Award, given to the skier with the highest overall score in any division at the Water Ski National Championships, five times in her career. She currently holds two national records – Women 6 jumping and Women 6 slalom. Leza has won national overall titles an amazing 30 times, including the 2015 Women 6 title. At one point in her career she won the national overall title 12 consecutive years. Over the course of her incredible career, Leza has won 122 national medals, including 91 gold medals. She was a U.S. Team member at multiple Water Ski World Championships and Pan American Water Ski Championships. While she was skiing at a world-class level, Leza also was a NASA engineer working on the space shuttle for 26 years.

Hank Longo has been announcing water ski tournaments for more than five decades. He founded the American Water Ski Association’s Announcers’ Association, which was established to organize and identify announcers and to provide guidelines and structure for announcing water ski tournaments in the United States. As a result of Hank’s efforts, announcers became formally recognized as AWSA officials in 2007. Hank created and wrote the AWSA Announcers’ Manual and Guidelines. In 1996 he worked with the USA Water Ski Foundation to establish the Tommy Bartlett Award for the Most Outstanding Announcer at the Water Ski National Championships. Hank has announced more National and Regional Water Ski Championships than anyone in the United States. He has announced numerous major tournaments, including the Masters, U.S. Open, Malibu Open, U.S. Team Trials and many others. He also is an accomplished skier setting a world stunt record in 1983 by jumping over 14 MasterCraft  boats on ABC’s “That’s Incredible!” He won Men 6 jumping at the 2013 GOODE Water Ski National Championships.

Mark Voisard has been a pioneer, national level competitor, innovator and judge in the sport of water skiing for more than 40 years. In 1970, Mark was a founding member of the Chain Skimmers Water Ski Show Team in Eagle River, Wis. The team is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. In 1977, Mark was hired to ski for the Cypress Gardens theme park. He continued at the “Water Ski Capital of the World” until 1992. Mark later returned in 1997 and stayed until the iconic park closed in 2009. He served as the show director there for 15 years, working alongside Water Ski Hall of Fame Inductees Jennifer Calleri, Scotty Clack, Lynn Novakofski and Cheryl Orloff. In 1982, Mark won the Men 2 national barefoot tricks and starts titles. He helped bring the breathtaking Delta Wing Kite flights to water ski shows and continues to fly to this day. He was responsible for the direction and performance of the first five-tier pyramids and was instrumental in forming the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team. Mark has officiated in more than 30 show ski tournaments for the National Show Ski Association, including 10 national championships and the two world championships.

About the Award of Distinction

The Water Ski Hall of Fame Award of Distinction was created to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to our sport. They may include tournament skiers, innovators, industry leaders, officials, and others responsible for landmark achievements in the development of water skiing as well as those whose long periods of dedicated and generous service deserve recognition.  To see a list of past recipients, eligibility requirements, nomination forms and more information, visit the official Web site of the USA Water Ski Foundation at