Wally Sokolowski

Wally Sokolowski served as the Executive Director of the Ontario Water Ski Association (OWSA) for 25 years from 1971 to 1995. During those years he made significant contributions to the development of the sport both in Ontario and across Canada. Sokolowski hosted and officiated, most often as technical controller, at numerous national competitions. He took the OWSA from a volunteer, home-based organization to a government funded provincial sporting organization.

He initiated, organized and operated the WellandWater Ski Club and the Claireville Water Ski Centre. This involved building numerous water ski jumps and installing countless slalom courses across the province. He dedicated his life to water skiing. Sokolowski played a key role in the development of competitive water skiing in the 1940’s and 1950’s, before there was a Canadian Water Ski Association, Water Ski Canada or an Ontario Water SkiAssociation.

He proposed and convinced the International Water Ski Federation (IWSF) to adopt a rule change for water ski jumping in order to improve the safety of the event. Additionally, he had the vision to foresee the environmental issues that would effect the future of the sport and he invested significant time and energy in promoting cable water skiing both in Canada and the United States. He flew at his own expense to Germany to investigate the design and requirements for installation and operation of a cable system.

Sokolowski spent many winter months assisting in the development of Quiet Waters Park in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He worked tirelessly to initiate the development of a cable site in Canada but the only cableway, at Le Beach Club in Montreal, was not built until after his retirement.

Wally’s vision and foresight has played a significant role in the development of our sport, both in respect to the technical competitive standards but also for the vision to foresee the significance cable skiing would play in the future of our sport. For this, Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada recognizes Wally Sokolowski as a Pioneer in its Hall of Fame.