Aqua Jays get ready to make waves

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, May 15, 2014

JANESVILLE—What's the best free family entertainment you can find in Southern Wisconsin?

Tim Cullen believes it's the Rock Aqua Jays semi-weekly water ski shows Memorial Day through Labor Day on the Rock River at Traxler Park.

Cullen is the club's president.

“You're not going to find better, free entertainment elsewhere,” said Aaron Schoelzel, 2014 show director.

“If you want to bring the family for something fun, free and entertaining, Traxler Park on Wednesday and Sunday is the place to be,” he said.

Although skiers are a week behind schedule because of high water on the Rock River, they have been practicing in Beloit in preparation for the team's first show of the season at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 25, and at 1 p.m. Memorial Day.

Cullen and Schoelzel outlined five highlights the 2014 season:

1. Tournaments. The 18-time local national championship team will host three tournaments this season:

-- Mercury Open Water Ski Show Tournament on June 21.

-- Division I National Water Ski Show Tournament on Aug. 8-10.

-- World Water Ski Show Tournament on Sept. 12-14.

Both nationals and the world competition will be webcast and seen around the world, Cullen said.

2. Batman theme for the Aqua Jays show. As the story goes, Batman has been gone for 30 years, but now that crime is back, Batman and Commissioner Gordon return and corral the criminals, Schoelzel aid.

“This year's show theme is a little more fun than in the past, but with the same theatrical Rock Aqua Jays quality show. We just went to a little more of a comedy theme. It's a fun, fast-paced show. I want people to leave entertained but also to have had a good laugh in the process,” he said.

3. Better boat fleet. All new motors will be mounted on the team's two triple 900 horse-powered rigs, and the team has two new inboard boats.

“The inboards will pull many of the jump, barefoot, star doubles and star swivel acts, while the triple rigs will pull the ballet line, big barefoot lines and big pyramid,” Schoelzel aid.

“We're very blessed to have the Wisconsin product of Mercury as our main engine sponsor,” Cullen said.

4. New bleacher seating. Through a partnership with the city, the 10-high bleacher sections were removed, redistributed to the north end of the seating area and replaced with a new set of 20-high bleachers, Cullen said.

“We have a nice set of bleachers that add an additional 500 seats to our stadium,” Cullen said.

“Now, we've got the seating capacity for 4,000 people,” Schoelzel said.

5. New mentoring program. Schoelzel has changed the practice schedule to enable more learning.

“This will offer more time to the guys Monday nights. Tuesday night is predominantly girl night “so people can learn new tricks, get on the water and have more opportunity to advance their skills that will obviously help the team in the long run,” he said.

It's part of doing a lot more education so the younger skiers can move into key leadership roles, Schoelzel said.

“It's hard to change, but change is good,” he said.

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