Inspiration of John O’Neill
I remember the first time I met John at a waterski tournament in 2007. I had brought my list of excuses of why I wasn’t in the tournament, most of which dissolved after I saw John ski. Watching John ski, and ski very well with one arm, placed my insignificant complaints into a different category. I have learned never turned down a chance to ski and I am the first one in the water without hesitation.
John and I met in passing over the next year or two, mostly revolving around water skiing and the occasional brush by through work connections somehow. After a few conversations, I truly became inspired by John as a water skiier, but not for the obvious reasons. I became inspired not because I was talking to a person who could kick my ass on the ski course, literally with one arm, but because I was talking with a guy who did not see any obstacles in doing what he loved to do. Whatever facilities he had available to him, he was going to be water skiing and that was all there was to it. John was inspiring because his love for this sport poured out of everything he did. Everybody who met John quickly accepted John on the ski course because of the spirit he brought to the sport.
While his death this week was a tragic one, it would be hard to imagine him wanting to do anything but ski. Saying that he died doing what he loved would be an understatement and I am sure John is smiling at us all today, still putting in an extra set. Thanks for eliminating all of my excuses in one encounter John, and thanks for reminding me why I go skiing every chance I can.