Industry News

Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame to Enshrine Parks Bonifay & Don Mixon Sr. in Class Of 2019

POLK CITY, Fla. – The USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s (USA-WWF) Hall of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce wakeboarding sensation Parks Bonifay and barefoot pioneer Don Mixon Sr. will take their place among the sport’s immortals in the Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame.

The two icons will be enshrined at the 37th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 27th, 2019 at Walt Disney World’s Swan & Dolphin Resort.  Bonifay and Mixon will be honored for their amazing accomplishments and the long-lasting impact their contributions have had and will continue to have on the sport.   “We are very proud to honor and­ celebrate these deserving inductees who have given so much to the sport and are true heroes both on and off the water,” said Tracy Mattes, USA-WWF Executive Director.  “The legacies and contributions of this Parks and Don will now live forever as they join our sport’s greatest legends in the Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame.”

The USA-WWF has partnered with Walt Disney World Resort to create the Oscars of water skiing & wake sports.  From the red carpet to the induction ceremony to the fireworks, it will be a night filled with inspiration and magic as only Disney can produce.  It will be a night to remember!  The selection committee will announce the remainder of the Hall of Fame Class of 2019, including the Award of Distinction Recipients and the Lifetime Achievement Award later this month.


The name Parks Bonifay has become synonymous with wakeboarding.  Long known as one of the most influential and accomplished wakeboarders of all time, Parks enters the Hall of Fame as an outstanding athlete, pioneer and innovator. Parks has been in the spotlight on the water since he was 6 months old.  Before he could even walk, Parks made his water skiing debut at Cypress Gardens and became an instant media sensation known as the “Ski Baby” and earned the Guinness Record.

Parks took the wakeboarding world by storm winning the X Games when he was just 14 years old, and since then has gone on to dominate wakeboarding events worldwide, from the Pro Tour to the Gravity Games.  Parks has held every major title in the sport. He is a 5-time Pro Wakeboard Tour Champion, 5-time competitor in the X Games- two in which he won gold, 2-time Master’s Wakeboard Champion, a U.S. National Wakeboard Champion, a Wakeboard World Cup Champion and a Gravity Games Champion.

Considered to be the world’s most influential wakeboarding free rider, Parks is known for combining flawless old-school techniques with extreme, 21st century creativity. He has invented multiple wakeboarding tricks including becoming the first documented wakeboarder to land the 1080. His trail blazing continues to move the sport forward with his fearless exploration into the uncharted frontiers of ocean wakeboarding. In recent years, Parks has taken wakeboarding to both the tropics and the arctic—throwing down jibs on icebergs off the coast of Canada and pulling into one of the world’s most notorious surf breaks at Teahupoo, Tahiti. Parks has been featured in Hollywood films and is an innovator in board designs.

In 2009, Bonifay filmed the “Parks Bonifay Documentary” which shows his role in the evolution of wakeboarding.  Parks’ role as an innovator and visionary for the sport is far from over. Parks Bonifay is a true legend in the sport.


A true pioneer, Don Mixon Sr. guided the sport of barefoot water skiing with intelligence, hard work, and a passion that helped build the foundation of what barefooting has become in the United States and around the world. Don began his career as a competitive water skier in 1970.  He was the founder and show director of the Lake Padgett Water Ski Club, where he was named the Lake Padgett Water Ski Club Man of the Year in 1978.  Shortly after, he started barefooting competitively.  For more than a decade, Don racked up accolades included being a 2-time Senior Men Barefoot National Slalom Champion, as well as a 2-time Senior Men National Slalom Record Holder.  In 1982, tragedy struck. Mixon broke his neck in two places which ended his competitive barefooting career.  He was down but he was not out.  Don threw himself into organizing and hosting barefoot tournaments, coaching, judging, driving and homologating where he quickly became world renowned.  As an elite judge, driver and coach, Mixon served at every U.S. Barefoot Nationals in some capacity from 1980-1998 and was American Barefoot Club (ABC) Man of the Year in 1983 and 1995.  In 1982 and 1984 he was Chief Driver for Barefoot Nationals and in 1989, 1993 and 1997 he was Chief Judge of Barefoot Nationals.  Mixon, a 3-time U.S. Barefoot Team Coach represented the U.S. Barefoot Team as Team Manager in 1980 and 1982.  He was the Appointed Judge of the World Barefoot Championships in 1984, 1986 and 1992, Chief Judge of the 1994 World Barefoot Championships and was the Appointed Driver of the 1997 Junior Barefoot World Championships.

Don has made a tremendous impact on the sport both on and off the water.  He has been a shining example and inspiration to many on how one can overcome tragedy and serve for the good of all of those around him.  From 1985-1988 he served as ABC’s National President and served as a Honorary World Barefoot Council Member from 1985-1998. He also served as Chairman of Group 1 World Barefoot Council from 1989-1998.  Mixon was the first ever member of Correct Craft Boats barefoot promotional team, where his boat pulled all National Championships from 1979 -1988.  Don Mixon gave his heart and soul to barefooting and he is still giving.  Don recently showed up at Lake Grew to watch and support the new generation of barefoot water skiers and officials.

About the Water Ski & Wake Sports Hall of Fame

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor and perpetuate the names and accomplishments of skiers, riders, pioneers and officials whose dedication and competitive achievements at national and international levels have brought lasting fame to the sport of water skiing. Four categories of membership have been approved by the USA Water Ski Foundation board of trustees: competitors in water skiing and wake sports, including participants in traditional water skiing, wakeboarding, show skiing, barefoot skiing, ski racing and any other nationally competitive individual discipline recognized by USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and approved by the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation board of trustees; water ski and wake sports pioneers; officials; and show skiing. For eligibility requirements and more information, visit the official website of the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation: