Scot and Lynda Jones

by BRIAN HUDGINS As a teenager in the late 1980s, Oklahoma native Scot Jones was mainly a weekend warrior when it came to the sport of water-skiing. What served as a May-to-August hobby soon introduced Jones to Louisiana, a new group of friends and his future wife. As Scot and Lynda Jones recall their days as water-skiers at the University of Southwestern Louisiana – now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Scot chuckles as he recalls the move that signaled his switch “from redneck to Cajun.” Now the couple coaches the ski team at their alma mater, which has three National Collegiate Water Ski Association championships (1995, 1997 and 2003), with one win under the Joneses, who have overseen the team since 2001. Whereas Scot, 35, took up the sport relatively late – as a 16-year-old – Lynda hit the water at an earlier age and was skiing competitively by age 11. She entertained some occasional second thoughts as a beginner. “My older brother, me and his friend were trying to do a pyramid, and it was horrible because I climbed on their shoulders, and it was time after time of falling and hitting the water,” Lynda says. “Then my dad throws the handle to me. It was one of those old wooden handles. It busted me in the lip, and I had this huge fat lip. I was like, ‘I quit. I don’t want to have anything else to do with this.’ ” Despite those drawbacks, Lynda, a Lafayette native, found her way to the USL team, where she met Scot in 1991. The team was a few years away from thinking about possible championships. “At the time, we had 15 or 16 people on the team, and we kind of joked that it was our own fraternity or sorority,” Scot says. “Everybody fell together, and all of a sudden, you had a bunch of buddies. We had people from all over – Canada, Michigan and California. But everybody was a water-skier.” For Scot, who had only a few years’ skiing experience, competing in regional tournaments and at the collegiate level put a new wrinkle in the activity. “You’re not used to having to perform in front of people,” Scot notes. “All of a sudden, it matters, and people are watching you. Kids don’t think about pressure that much. That’s something that we adults come up with.” After completing their undergraduate studies, both Scot and Lynda continued to compete in regional and national meets. Scot’s specialty was the slalom, while Lynda preferred ski jumping. The physical demands of competition eventually caused Lynda to undergo a couple of knee surgeries. With career responsibilities and two young children, Asher and Adelaide, the couple now spend more time on land than water. They still compete in some slalom and jumping events. In addition to their coaching duties, Scot works as a physical therapist, and Lynda teaches early-childhood-education classes at South Louisiana Community College. “A lot of people do two or three events when they are kids,” Scot says. “When you get older, you don’t have as much time to be on the water. In our situation, [we] work all day, then try to run to the lake two or three times a week and practice before it gets dark.” As coaches, the couple also handle issues such as equipment maintenance and team-travel plans. The program, which started with a mix of recreational and competitive skiers, has progressed steadily under the watch of original coach Bob May and now the Joneses. “It has changed so much,” Scot says. “Three of our girls had no competitive background at all. They were recreational skiers.” But apparently they adapted quickly. Witnessing the students’ speed and power as they soar across the water and through the air is impressive even to experienced skiers. “We have an incredibly high caliber of skier. It is another world from the recreational level,” Scot says. “It is amazing to see how fast things happen.” •