SPARTA, NJ – The Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks has been unique part of the Sparta community for more than 60 years, providing entertainment after the July Fourth and Memorial Day parades.

The duo of Donna Jenkins and Mark Scott provided commentary as well as some history at the July 4 show on Beach 1.  

“There is a job for everyone,” Scott said.  Jenkins said the team welcomes newcomers but “children cannot just be dropped off.”  That is why the team roster reveals it is a family affair.  Skiers range in age from 5-year-old Sage up to “60’s easily,” according to a team coordinator.

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Jenkins told the crowd the Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks have been designated the “official Water Ski Show Team of New Jersey,” by legislative decree. The designation came in the early 1990’s with the help of former Lake Mohawk trustee David Schoner and assemblyman Scott Garrett’s office.

“It’s incredible and different,” Jenkins said.  “And it’s a chance to get your July fourth off to a cool start.”

The tradition was brought to Sparta when Barney and Karen O’Donnell saw a show at Cyprus Gardens in Florida and decided they could do that here. Together with Cliff Probst they created the Ski Hawks in 1962.

The team is part of the USA Water Ski organization.  They will compete at Oxbow, Massachusetts on July 27 for the Eastern Regionals.  Jenkins said the teams are scored on the difficulty of their tricks.  The team has a ballet line, a jump squad, barefoot skiers, handle transition, regular handle, swivel and strap skiers even a hydrofoil.  They build pyramids and combine the various types of skiers behind one boat, increasing the level of difficulty. The team introduced a pyramid, strap and jump crew on one boat. The team also added a SWAPE or swivel and strap trick where a handle skier is attached to the boat and another skier is attached to the skier in front. 

For added difficulty, a second SWAPS pair was added to a boat already in motion.  The rope was handed to the boat from someone on the dock.  The rope was successfully attached and the skiers executed their trick, making it look easy.

For a pyramid to receive all of the points in competition, they must fully execute, Jenkins explained; from the dock, to the build to the beach, all skiers must execute every part of the trick.

The team includes:

  • Mary Kate Armstrong,
  • Tom, Liam, Stuart and Erin Askin,
  • David Boffa,
  • James, Charlie, Alek Diamond,
  • John and Kevin Garrity,
  • Madison, Joseph, Dodie Guardia,
  • Mick, Grace, Carter, Erin Higgins,
  • Todd and Emily Hubley,
  • Donna and Damon Jenkins,
  • Meghan and Derrick Lieb,
  • Stacy, Jack, Riley, Luis Maldonado,
  • Siobhan, Mark, Catherine Marussich,
  • Catie and Robert Mason,
  • Bryan Miliken,
  • Todd Muth,
  • Rita, Lauren, Michael, Bob O’Connor,
  • Susan, Ben, Kaitlyn Parnell,
  • John, Patti, Patrick, Courtney, Kendra Payne,
  • Lisa-Marie, Anthony, Lindsay, Tony Pugliese,
  • Marjy Scott,
  • Margit Siadik,
  • Michelle, Julia, Dennis, Jack Smith,
  • Kate Sutphen,
  • Laura, Erin, Eric Takach,
  • Whitney and Robin Wood,
  • Greg and Cynthia Yuskaitis,
  • Marianne Zanetakos.