Judy Myers is my new idol. This “Old Lady” is my new inspiration each day, because she’s got me all fired up about barefooting again. Here I was last year, all sad and feeling like my best years were behind me– and then I learned about this 66-year-old gal who was skimming along the water like a spring chicken. So I’m heading down to Florida in the spring to meet Judy and try my hand at barefooting again.
Judy took a little time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions and share some photos of her barefooting. Enjoy!
Judy with her biggest fan and supporter, husband Casey
You started waterskiing at the age of 53 – tell me what it was like.
Actually I was 48 when I started waterskiing. We had gotten out of Dune Buggies and decided to buy a boat (A big boat with a giant wake). We invited friends to come out for the day and they use to water ski when they were younger so decided to bring along their old (wooden) skis. We had a ball but the next day we were so sore even our hair hurt!! I was hooked. I have always been around or on the water and really liked sports so this was perfect for me. I attend clinics, ski schools and skied a lot. I became a good recreational slalom skier and really enjoyed it.
How did you get into barefooting? How old were you? What was that first experience like?
I was 53 and went with a group of girls to “The River” (meaning the Colorado River in Yuma AZ). One of the girls (much younger than I) barefooted and decided we should all try it. The first gal scooted out on the boom and immediately flew off ripping off her barefoot suit and losing her bathing suit top in the process, the second girl did pretty much the same thing but first managed to hang on long enough to almost beat herself to death. It was my turn and after watching what went on before me I almost changed my mind thinking I was much too old for this. I told them they had one chance and that was it. I scooted out, put my feet on the water and again was hooked on a new sport – BAREFOOTING! What a rush to be actually walking on water! That moment literally changed my life!!
How did your barefooting evolve over the years? How did you get into competing? What was your first competition like?
My barefooting started out as just being a recreational sport and has gone from that to I now work at World Barefoot Center with Keith St. Onge and David Small each spring. While there I do the office work and lunches but the reward is I get to ski every day with two of the nicest and best in barefooting in addition to “Swampy” Keith’s coach.
When I first started skiing I went to FL for lessons as being an “old” Physical Education teacher I wanted to learn the proper way and save myself injury. I went to Ron Scarpa’s and it was Ron who convinced me to compete because of my age. It was here I also picked up the name “Old Lady”. Women tend to leave barefooting for various reasons and we felt it may help women realize they could stay in the sport, compete and have fun. After all that is what life is about – having fun and enjoying it to the fullest.
My first competition was in 1999 at the Western Regional’s at Cheyenne Lake in New Berry Springs CA. I did not have a clue about skiing a tournament and what one even had to do. When I arrived the skiers took me under their wing and went out of their way to get me ready!! They realized I needed to score a specific number of points in order to go to Nationals so while waiting for my turn were teaching me things I could try. Dawn Farrell was awesome as was Gina McKee and then my slalom mentor Theresa Hoffman. I had never even attempted to cross the wake before then and Theresa made sure I was going to succeed!
Needless to say with their support I managed to do what I needed to do in order to move on.
Since putting my feet on the water for the first time and falling in love with the sport, I have skied all over the country, made friends all over the world, skied as an independent in the 2003 Worlds, been honored with the Western Region Barefooter of the Year award, had various magazine articles published about me, was in the MSNBC “Fit TO Boom” video, been on the “Today” show and the highest honor of them all was to win the 2009 “Banana George Blair Award for Barefooter of the Year. What an honor! I was speechless and those that know me know that is next to impossible!
What is a typical day of training like?
Usually we get up very early, do some stretching and go out and ski a couple of sets in the morning and again in the afternoon along with dryland practice. When I am at the World Barefoot Center with KSO and Swampy they work with me trying to improve my abilities (I tell KSO I am his project). I will say age has a little drawback here as it does take me longer to “get it” but I am willing to try and give it my all. I have had a few set backs this past couple of years – torn hamstring and then knee surgery but I am working hard in the off season to get in shape and am getting ready for the up and coming “Spring Training”.
How has barefooting changed your life?
Barefooting has made me realize that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. It has helped keep this 66 year old woman – soon to be 67 - young in heart and spirit and has made me keep myself in good shape and strong. I cannot imagine my life without this!
Can you see why I’m fired up and inspired?