For Jay Bennett, teaching water-ski and wakeboard enthusiasts brings his life passion full-circle.
Alongside his wife, Anne, he runs Bennett’s Waterski and Wakeboard School, a 63-acre watersports complex with a large pro shop.
Jay holds national and regional titles in water-skiing and has extensive coaching and judging experience, while Anne holds titles in slalom skiing. The pair utilize their knowledge to coach the next generation.
Their school offers lessons in towed watersports 10 months per year. Participants can learn to ski, wakeboard or ride inflatable water toys for leisure or competition.
Instruction is available at all levels and is individualized. Participants learn one-on-one with a driver and instructor.
During the summer, camps are available, and single-day training is offered year-round. Instruction packages range from weekly camps to weekend recreational instruction for adults and kids.
To make the experience immersive, accommodations in cottages and dorms are also available on-site, depending on the package purchased.
“We get everybody to relax, understand the reason they’re being here is to enjoy themselves and have fun,” Jay says.
Established in 1976 with the first class of students in 1977, Bennett’s Waterski and Wakeboard School began on False River in Pointe Coupee Parish. Since the Capital Region is not traditionally known as a destination for waterskiing or watersports, the couple knew they could utilize their professional backgrounds to fill a need for towed watersports coaching.
At the time, the Bennetts were working and attending college, keeping the business to the summer months. It moved to its current spot at 18605 Barnett Road in Zachary, then an abandoned catfish farm, in 1980.
“I and two other couples purchased the property, and we literally hand-built the lakes ourselves. We were on a wish and a hope in the first place,” Jay says.
Programs have evolved since then. The camp was originally strictly a competition training facility for all ages, Jay says. But about 15 years ago, the couple saw a big market in recreational lessons.
But the Bennetts haven’t forgotten their competitive roots. The annual LA Night Jam returns each summer, with competitions for extreme distance water-ski jumping, freestyle ski jumping, slalom skiing, extreme barefooting and trick skiing. It helps the recreational and the competitive worlds collide.
“When we bring the general population out and people are being introduced to watersports for the first time,” Jay says, “that creates another avenue of business.” skibennetts.com
This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue of 225 magazine.