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Mandy Nightingale Skis Her Way to Fame

By: Natalie Eaton

Jenks High School celebrates an amazing water skiing career as Mandy Nightingale, one of the Building 6 counselors, is inducted into the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame.

In a statement on the official website for Water Skiing and Sports, Nightingale is considered one of the greatest trick skiers of her era. Some of her many accomplishments include her 2003 and 2005 World Championship wins. In 2006, she set a world record of 8,740 points! 

The Torch researched and found this link showing Nightingale competing at the 2009 World Cup. At that competition, Nightingale showed off multiple tricks. One such trick showed her effortlessly on one leg while spinning. As she managed to stay composed, she began to do a series of flips, making every landing in the process. With water flying through the air and a huge smile on her face, Nightingale managed to outscore all of her other competitors. 

USA Water Ski and Wake Sports

Her mastery of the sport was rooted in years of practice. Nightingale has been skiing since she was three years old. Living in Sapulpa, OK, she and her dad would drive out to the lake and practice constantly. 

“I actually started when I was three years old, my dad and his friends were freeskiing, and he learned how to water ski, and he got me up on trainer skis. He pulled me around on a lawnmower,” Nightingale says. “My first water ski tournament was when I was five, so I started little and I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Shanna Howe, a Jenks Math and Science teacher and friend of Nightingale, notes that her practices were sometimes more impressive than actual competition. 

“I will not forget an opportunity I had to go ride on the boat and watch her practice!” said Howe. “It’s pretty cool to watch what she can do on a video but it definitely is even more insane getting to watch it in person! Flips, holding on with her foot, going backwards, never falling… crazy cool!”

Growing up, Nightingale also committed to other sports. She played basketball in college for the University of Colorado, and also played softball in high school. Nightingale believes that one of the main reasons why she succeeded in waterskiing and basketball was because she never got burnt out on one sport.

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“I went to the University of Colorado out of high school to play basketball, and I did not water ski for four years,” says Nightingale. “When I got done with my undergrad, I went to the University of Louisiana Lafayette on the water ski team. Then through there, I would stay in Florida through the summers, and once I came back here, we started skiing on the Verdigris river because my dad lived in Catoosa.”

Howe commented on Nightingale’s multi-sport prowess, saying that she balanced sport/coaching commitments, friends and family, and the education world very well. 

“She is basically amazing and pretty much a beast at life!” Howe says. “She also had to be so disciplined in her time and commitment to practice since she was living in Oklahoma and pretty much on her own (her skiing peers didn’t live here and many made it their full-time career). Her discipline plus talent is seriously impressive!”

When Nightingale was living in Florida, her practice schedule for water skiing was split. Three to four times a day she would practice 15-to-30 minutes sets and then rest. When she lived in Oklahoma, Nightingale would work during the day and meet her dad at 5:30 p.m. until dark.

“This sport is either an all or nothing for the high level of competition because you have to train every day,” explains Nightingale. “Just get in as much as we could before the sun went down.”

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While she worked at Jenks, Nightingale skied for 6 to 7 years. Soon after her retirement from water skiing, she got into other activities. Crossfit, gymnastics, and powerlifting have become something she does now to stay active. As stated by Nightingale, she loves competing, and with CrossFit, you can compete individually or with a team.

During her time at Jenks, Nightingale made an impression on her peers.  One such person is Jenks guidance counselor Kimberly Catterson. Talking about Nightingale, Catterson says as a co-worker and friend, Mandy gives all of her effort and heart in any job, hobby, or relationship she has.

“You would never know she held world records. You would never know the hours and sacrifice, and work through the pain she has put in, weeks, months and years,” says Catterson. “She is as genuine and kind as they come, her work ethic is one that no one can compare, she is the definition of a hall of famer, in skiing and in life.”

After being retired for five years, Nightingale now enjoys skiing for fun in Mounds, Oklahoma with her father.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my entire water skiing career. I knew I was successful and it was something I love to do, but to have this honor is like the icing on top of the cake,” says Nightingale. “It’s something amazing to show for all the hard work and time.”

For more information about Mandy Nightingale’s induction and achievements, visit http://www.usawaterski.org/default.asp?Display=3240

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