The Alton Water Ski Club was founded on August 23, 1955. They were well known around the St Louis/ Southern Illinois area and performed at many special events in the area under the name Midwest Water Ski Show Productions. The Club was formed with the purpose of promoting the sport and recreation of water skiing, water safety, good sportsmanship, aquatic events, kindred and similar sports, and good fellowship.
Over the years the Club grew acquiring riverfront property on the Great River Road, a popular scenic highway that follows the Mississippi River, just north of Alton, Illinois along with a parcel of land containing a clubhouse and storage garage directly across the highway from the riverfront location. The Club continued to grow acquiring a new twin 18’ Hydrodyne twin rig in the spring of 1976 as well as growing membership, topping out at 135 members. During its high point the Club was mostly known in the area for their yearly January 1st New Years Day ski under the Arch where they put up a 3 high pyramid in front of the Arch with all proceeds going to the charity of choice as well as shows on the St Louis riverfront as part of the July 4th celebration.
The club went through a downturn beginning in 1993. Midwest Show Ski Productions was dissolved, equipment was auctioned and the Club nearly was abandoned. In the downturn, all the show ski equipment was auctioned except for the 2 boats, the twin and single Hydrodynes, and the properties. There was a small group of members that managed to keep the club alive for the next few years.
In the spring of 2010, a group of show skiers came to Alton from another local club. This group began the rebuild of the Show Team first by selecting a new name for the show team, the ‘River Road Renegades Show Team’. The new members along with the remaining members began rebuilding the Club by preparing the show site, acquiring equipment, and most importantly skiing! We also continued to grow membership throughout the year ending up with 30 members by the end of the season.
We began skiing on the river in late April with weekend practices. Practices were ramped up in May and soon it was apparent that we were going to attract attention from people driving by on the Great River Road. Every time we practiced, there were always spectators either pulled off of the road or passing boats on the river that stopped to watch us. Attention grew after we completed refurbishing the jump and put it in the water. Our jump practices attracted additional attention. Word got out to the local newspaper, The Alton Telegraph, who did 2 stories on the team.
With all the work taking place in 2010, we did not get the opportunity to compete as a team in any 2010 tournaments. Although we did not perform in any sanctioned tournaments as a team in 2010, Amanda Pierce, one of our members, competed in Individual Swivel in both the Central Regional and DII National tournaments placing 6th and 2nd respectively. We also had 2 team members attend the Jump Clinic with Scotty Clack hosted by the Lake City Skiers in June. The Renegades became affiliated with both USA Waterski and The Central Region Show Ski Association in 2010.
The off time of the 2010 ski season into 2011 is still very busy. We are continuing work on the ski site by moving our dock moorings to allow for a better landing area and stage, enhance spectator seating area, extending our boat ramp and general maintenance/upgrades to our property and equipment. The most exciting equipment upgrade is trading our old 1976 18’ Hydrodyne twin hull for a 20’ 1986 Hydrodyne twin hull. When all the work is completed, which is scheduled for early April, we will be well on our way to have a competition level ski site. This off time is also used to hold our major fundraisers for the 2011 season ,which consist of a Mouse Race held in October and our Ad Book/ Show Program for 2011 to mention a few, as well as increasing our membership through membership drives.
2011 will be an exciting year for the club as we will not only be looking to attend both the Central Regional and DII National tournaments but performing weekly shows at our site. We are currently scheduling 12 shows in 2011 and in talks to perform an additional 3 shows at other sites as part of our fundraising activities. Our first Home Show is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend with a show every weekend finishing up on Labor Day Weekend.
The Club has come a long way in this first year of rebuilding. We have made great progress and are moving towards our goal of becoming a World Class Nationally Ranked Water Ski Show Club.