MILFORD – Sitting in the shadows of some heavy medals, the Mishler sisters have been rocking it all summer.
Wanting to be just like her big sis, Julie Mishler kept a close eye on Alexis like the understudies tend to do. Both have become top flight water skiers, Julie advancing at hyper speed to earn a national championship this past weekend at the Goode Water Ski Nationals in San Marcos, TX.
Julie, all of 10 years old, started the slalom championships as the two seed and made the lofty starting status hold up. In a tiered format much like track’s high jump where a skier can start at an advanced speed and rope length ahead of lower seeded competitors, she made her runs count. Only one of three competitors to finish her runs at 30 miles per hour, she careened around the buoyed track without failure, and completed her championship slate with 1,414.30 points, ahead of Louisiana’s Landrie McLain at 1,364.10. Julie stated she felt good about the run, but was reassured after her final pass when Alexis and world record slalom holder Nate Smith met her on the dock and sent her back into the drink.
She had done enough to lay claim to the Girls 1 Slalom national championship, even with the top-seeded skier still left to compete.
“I felt pretty good while I was doing it, especially on my 28 (rope)” said Julie, who also finished second in combined slalom/trick ski at Nationals. She was also the Indiana state Champion in slalom, trick and overall, along with the Midwest Regional Champion winning slalom, trick, and overall. “When I ran the 28, I felt awesome. On my 32, I was really happy with that because it was pretty windy.
“There was one girl after me and I didn’t want to watch her. I didn’t want to see what she got. (Smith) ran up to me and threw me in while I was still carrying my ski. Then I kinda knew I won.”
Smith, the standard bearer to which slalom skiing is measured, is from McCordsville outside of Indianapolis and became friends with the Mishler family at the Indiana State tournament. Offering the family a ride to Nationals, the opportunity to continue to learn from the best – to which dad Phil Mishler likens Smith to what LeBron James is to the NBA – was hard to pass up. To have the best in the world letting Julie know she was on top was a memory that won’t soon fade.
“Basically, the best in the world, they got to enjoy the trip of a lifetime,” noted Phil of making the 21-plus hour trip to San Marcos with Smith in his motor home. “You get to learn from the best and be around that, what an outstanding opportunity.”
Video of Julie Mishler from earlier in the summer
Not lost in the excitement was Alexis, who herself has quite a résumé in water skiing. An Indiana record holder, Alexis broke a five-year-old mark held by Elizabeth Tynan for two buoys, 32 off at 30 miles per hour. Alexis has paved the way for what little sister is doing while also competing at a very high level. Alexis placed fifth in the Midwest Regional championships in July and then seventh in Girls 2 Slalom at Nationals. While a little softer spoken about her accomplishments than her upbeat little sister, Alexis understands that how she sets the example not only affects herself, but a very magnetic set of younger eyes.
“My goal was to get on the podium at Nationals,” Alexis stated, quick to point out she missed the podium by one buoy. “I just practiced a lot to make sure I was ready to go for Nationals.
“I was just really happy for her to watch her win it,” continued Alexis of her sister’s breakthrough. “In Girls 1, I got second and didn’t win it, so I was happy to see her get it.”
Video of Alexis Mishler from earlier in the summer
Being the daughters – Alexis heading into seventh grade and Julie fifth grade – of a pair of highly competitive parents can be tough. Phil’s M.O. as a basketball and tennis coach at Wawasee High School was that of intensity, accountability and discipline. There’s no shortage of that in water skiing, and when asked, both girls responded to having dad be dad rather than coach. Phil is perfectly fine not being in the middle of it, but rather letting his kids grow up and learn at their pace.
“Alexis really is blazing a trail for Julie, and that’s what makes this fun,” Phil said. “Julie gets to watch that happen, and that’s a fun time for the entire family. I think that’s what water skiing is all about, it allows you to make connections with other people but you are out in the boat together spending time. Don’t get me wrong, they are working hard, it’s a competitive sport, but they enjoying doing this together.”
As the girls and proud papa spoke about their experiences, Susan Mishler sat with a grin from ear to ear, tapping away at her iPhone hunting for videos and photos from the year of lake conquests. Loaded with moments of pride, she shared 30-second spots of Alexis and Julie tearing through lake after lake, and image after image of magic while over a dozen medals from victories hung on a frame behind her. There’s no doubt the Mishler’s have taken on the fun of becoming known for being a water skiing family, even if they have absolutely no history to draw upon.
“We didn’t have any idea, when do you need a new ski, when do you buy a different rope?” Susan said of becoming acclimated with the sport and its nuances. “We have learned a lot. We reached out to some of the locals and caught on.
Added Phil, “The skiing community really takes care of you once you break into it. Once you’re in, they really take care of one another. It’s a great social aspect, they really want to help you.”
Before any of the success was reached at Nationals, both Mishler girls had already cemented themselves in the Hoosier State. Julie smashed a 25-year old slalom record held by Amanda Burney among three different Midwestern records she topped, one being a 15-plus year mark held by Keri McClure of Ohio in two buoys, 32 off at 30 miles per hour. All done by a pair of skiers who live on tiny Camelot Lake outside of Milford and are just as busy with other things in their sporting lives. Alexis is beginning volleyball at the middle school and Julie has been performing well in club swimming, most recently with PRO Swim and likely will pick up basketball before long.
The family credits their Camelot skiing brethren of the Rozows and the Linnemeiers as well as the Bucher family over at Cindonway Shores for much of their training success and support, as well as the support Smith and his entourage have provided.
“It makes you extremely proud,” Phil said. “What it comes down to is that they both are having fun doing it. They both are willing to work at it. They get up in the morning and want to ski and are asking me to want to go out. It’s them that want to be good at this. That’s the key.”