Catfish Bay is so much more than a water ski show. In 2007, when the team debuted its new mission of “building youth, strengthening families, and creating leaders with the Greatest Show on H20”, I thought to my teenage self at the time, “that’s kind of cheesy, but our team gets new wetsuits and signs, so that’s cool”.
After many years on the team, and returning as an adult after a few year hiatus, I now whole-heartedly support and believe in this mission. I have witnessed and benefitted from life-long friendships created on this team, watched kids find a place to finally fit in and mature, and participated with dozens of others in multiple volunteer opportunities, all while making it to Friday night to put on an awesome ski show for the people of Sioux Falls.
This small man-made lake is immeasurably special to countless people. I would love to see you at a show not only to support my hard work and passion for water-skiing as a sport, but to also support the mission of Catfish Bay so it is here for many years to come. This place changes lives and gives back to the community. We are blessed to have such a place here in Sioux Falls thanks to the Jim Bruns family.
To learn more about the bay, I sat down with Jim, owner and founder of Catfish Bay, at one of our last practices for the 2016 season this week:
How did your passion for water skiing turn in to Catfish Bay?
During the summer of 1985 Jim joined a small group of skiers called the Sioux Falls Water Ski Club at Wall Lake. After that first year, their boat met an untimely end, and while Jim succeeded in being the top fundraiser to replace it (not an easy task at 15-years-old), it was not enough to save the team. Jim went on to ski in shows in the Black Hills, Shakopee, and Sea World before returning to South Dakota where he lived on Lake Campell and attended classes at SDSU. This is where the idea of having his own water ski team was born. After practices at Beaver Lake and Lake Madison with a handful of skiers in the summer of 1992 proved to be time-consuming and difficult, Jim saw a contractor pumping water that would soon turn in to a lake during the reconstruction of the I-90 bridge. With a handshake, Jim bought the current location of Catfish Bay as a college student and hosted his first ski show the summer of 1994. It is another story for another day to tell of the struggles, hard work, dedication and passion Jim possessed during these years and since to make Catfish Bay what it is today.
[Ballet Line – All us girls are on a single ski with the rope on our left foot]
How does Catfish Bay add to the Sioux Falls community?
Catfish Bay adds quality of life to Sioux Falls. We are a family-friendly activity that is a short drive for anyone living in Sioux Falls that runs all summer. Having a water ski show in town is extremely unique, as most communities throughout the country do not have one. Catfish Bay has also provided the opportunity for dozens of our team members to water ski professionally at places such a Sea World, Lego Land, and other locations all around the world.
[Barefoot skiing on a Saturday morning]
What do you wish more people in Sioux Falls knew about Catfish Bay?
Jim wishes more people made a habit of attending a show every year. We receive all the positive feedback in the world on our shows, but the general consensus while meeting people in town, is that it’s been a number of years since they’ve been to a show. We truly put on a quality show with new acts every year that we would love to share with the amazing and growing community of Sioux Falls.
How does Catfish Bay compare to other team sports?
Like other sports, being apart of Catfish Bay requires skill, teamwork and practice to put on a good show. What makes water skiing unique, is that a five-year-old and fifty-year-old can participate on the same team. And no matter your age, you can learn the skills to be apart of the team.
[Pyramid practice back in 2009]
What are your hopes for Catfish Bay in the future?
The main vision for Catfish Bay is what it’s been for many years and what it will continue to be, a place where people want to be, see and ski. It would also be a dream to have sold out shows and a waiting list for volunteers and skiers.
As a skier I sell discounted tickets. If you would like to take your family or would like to know more about the team, give me a call or text at 605.261.8396.
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