My first tournament experience was such a great one, and I was looking forward to heading back up to the Blue Moo for the Midwest Barefoot Regionals. The back seat was filled with boxes of Popchips, sponsored by Popchips Chicago. The barefooters seemed to enjoy the chips, including the youngest, soon-to-be-a-barefooter, Ryker Meskers:
Holly Buchman was surprised to find out that Popchips are only 100 calories per bag. Even so, she worked for her chips:
And who knew that Keith St. Onge is a sucker for Popchips too:
I was hoping to conquer my tumble turns and one foots at this tournament, but that didn’t happen. I still have a long way to go to master those tricks on the water. Slalom wasn’t so hot either– I couldn’t get a comfortable stance on the water and wobbled all over the place. That’s barefooting for you– one day you’ll have a great run, the next day you’re a beginner all over again.
At the end of the tournament, just as I was getting into my car to head back to the hotel, another barefooter caught my attention and asked, “Are you the one who’s deaf?”
“Ah, yes, that’s me.” Turns out he had tried talking to me earlier and I didn’t respond to him. The story of my life. We ended up chatting and he shared his experience with barefooting. I love talking with the older barefooters– they really inspire me with their dedication to the sport year after year. And to think that almost two years ago, I figured my life on the water was pretty much over with.
At the banquet, I had a moment of panic when I realized that I couldn’t lipread Derek Koch when he started the awards after dinner. I debated moving closer to the stage and plopping myself right in front of him, but I knew that without informing him, he wouldn’t likely know to slow down so that I could understand him. I silently berated myself for not preparing for this beforehand, but it was too late to do anything about it. So I thought of Teri Larson, whom I had just met that day (she has a hard of hearing mom) and I went to sit by her. Teri gracefully summarized what was going on and she let me know when it was my turn to head up front. Teri is a lipreader’s dream– I was able to have a full conversation with her in the water without my hearing aids earlier that day. Thank you, Teri, for being my interpreter!
Since I was the only footer in the Womens 4 division, the medals for slalom, tricks and Overall were handed over to me. They represent the whole experience, not the competition– but the experience– of getting back on the water and meeting all these really neat folks from all over. Priceless.
And of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without the awesome sponsors who made it all happen (thank you!): General Motors, Phonak, ZVRS, Mayor Roger Claar, Oak Cove Resort and Chicago Tribune TribLocal.