Julie McCauley, a 65-year-old bus driver from Ohio, always enjoyed watching her children and grandchildren water ski on their bare feet. She traveled with them to tournaments and watched them compete on the water. Two years ago, the kids encouraged Julie to get back on water skis. It had been seven years, but Julie figured it would be like riding a bike again. To her surprise, despite many years of water skiing experience, Julie couldn’t get up on skis.
No one said a word when Julie climbed in the boat, but the experience became a catalyst for change.
“I decided I had to start working out and lose some weight,” Julie said.
Her daughter, Tina, a competitive barefoot water skier and runner, encouraged Julie to sign up for a Christmas 5K run. Julie had never run in her life, except for short distances in softball games.
Thirty pounds and a completed 5K later, Julie strapped on the water skis again and got right up. She felt like a new woman, with more energy this time around.
“Why don’t you try barefoot water skiing,” one of the kids suggested. The grandchildren threw in their encouragement too. They wanted to see Grandma walk on water.
“I said, ‘Sure, what the heck, I’ll try it!'” Julie laughed. The family flew to the World Barefoot Center in Florida and Julie took one day of lessons with the world barefoot champions. She quickly found herself water skiing on her bare feet–experiencing the same excitement and thrill that her kids and grandchildren showed throughout the years.
Despite having only one lesson behind her, Julie signed up for a Women’s Barefoot Weekend at the World Barefoot Center. She packed her son’s barefoot wetsuit and flew to Florida with Tina. Julie wasn’t the oldest woman there–72-year-old Judy Myers ran the annual event. Julie didn’t have any expectations, she was just looking forward to learning on the water.
“The Women’s Weekend was so much fun,” Julie said. “I was a beginner on the water, but the girls didn’t treat me like a beginner. “There were so many things to learn–it was exciting. The adrenaline was definitely going.”
Five days later, Julie became the first woman in the world to learn to barefoot water ski backwards at the age of 65.
But the best moment of all, was a mother-daughter moment on the water. Tina and Julie skied together behind the boat. Their smiles could be seen for miles.
“She is awesome and a true inspiration that you’re never too old to try something new,” Tina said.
Julie’s advice for growing bolder? “Do new things. Don’t sit around, keep learning. Hang with the young ones. You need to push yourself to the limit. Don’t look back–keep pressing on.” Her next goal is to barefoot water ski with each of her grandchildren next summer.