MILFORD — When your college plans and career goals involve water skiing, it doesn’t hurt to have a man-made lake with championship-style courses already laid out right in your backyard.
Alexis Mishler and her younger sister Julie, who have those dreams and desires, live on Camelot Lake near Milford.
“The lake was an old gravel pit that was made for competitive water skiing in the late 1970s,” the girls’ mother Susan Mishler said. “There were some professional tournaments held here in the 1980s and the 1990s.”
The sisters have an impressive display of medals from their careers so far that are the focal point of a wall in their parents home.
Alexis recently made her first appearance at the 19th Junior U.S. Open Water Ski Championships at Stillwaters in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Some of the world’s top junior water ski athletes competed for titles in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall at the two-round, world-record capability event.
Alexis finished fifth in IG Slalom with 807 points. Kristen Baldwin of Winter Gardens, Florida, was first with 1,000 points.
“I have been competing since I was 9,” the 14-year-old Alexis said.
Julie has also won numerous awards.
“I got up the first time I tried it on two skies,” she said. “Alexis started winning medals and it made me want to win some.”
The girls are the daughters of Phil and Susan Mishler.
“Early on the girls both seemed like they were going to be good athletes. I grew up skiing on Barbee Lakes, but the girls are at a whole different level of skiing,” Susan said.
Both parents have backgrounds in athletics. Susan (Setlack) was a state-caliber high jumper at Wawasee High School. She went on to compete at Ball State University where her jump of 5-9 3/4 is tied for the second-best leap in Cardinal history. Phil was the boys basketball coach at Wawasee from the 2000-01 season to 2012-13. In the 2004-05 campaign, he guided the Warriors to a 20-5 record and the first-and-only regional title is program history.
Phil coaches his daughters.
“Phil has put in a lot of time figuring out how to coach water skiing,” Susan said. “He was used to coaching, but water skiing is different.”
The sport has become a way for the family to spend their summers. The parents have the time to spend with their daughters during the time. Phil is a physical education teacher at Wawasee High School and Susan is the principal at Wawasee Middle School.
“It’s nice that we have the same time free as the girls do,” Phil said. “We have the lake right out behind the house. It’s a great way for us to spend time together and to learn about something different.
“The trips we take to competitions have become our vacations in the summer time.”
Alexis will be a freshman at the high school this fall and Julie a seventh-grader at the middle school.
Living in Indiana cuts down on training time for the girls.
“A lot of the competitors live in Florida and can train year round,” Phil said. “We are at a definite disadvantage in the North. Since we have a more limited window of training time the girls learn to ski in all kinds of weather. Some of the skiers in Florida, don’t go out if it is raining, we can’t do that because of the fewer training days we have available.
“When we are on Christmas break we head to Florida so the girls can train.”
The younger Mishlers are both tall for their ages with long arms and legs.
“Length is an advantage in skiing. The rope is the same length for every competitor and is not really long enough to get around some of the outside buoys unless you can have the length to lean and stretch to get around them. You also have the strength to do it as well.”
Phil explained that during most parts of the course skiers are going 32 to 34 mph, but when crossing a wake speeds can go up to 60 mph.
“I have fallen, but have never been seriously injured,” Julie said.
“You try not to fall, but at the same time have to go all out,” Alexis added.
Alexis at one time was ranked No. 1 in the nation in the age 14-and-under category and Julie was top-ranked in the 12-and-under group.
“Making the Junior National Team and winning a gold medal at the U.S. Elite Nationals have been some of my highlights,” Alexis said.
“Winning the 10-and-under Nationals was a big thing for me,” Julie said. “Seeing all the sites when we travel is fun. We got to go rafting when we were in Idaho.”
Alexis is already thinking about her future plans.
“The idea is to go to college to somewhere I can ski and then I would love to turn pro some day,” she said.
Greg Keim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 326. Follow Greg on Twitter @gkeim_TGN