Ann O’Brine Satterfield 1949-2015
Ann O’Brine-Satterfield had become a great ambassador in the disabled community and recognized many times for her work. We believe that Ann’s dream should go beyond central Florida and promote everyone in this great sport.
Ann put on her first clinic in August of about 1990, at Flowing Lake in Snohomish County, Washington where over 60 people signed up. It became the first series of annual clinics to teach water skiing to people with disibilities.
After moving to Winter Haven Florida in 1993, Ann founded “The SitSki Experience” and then “UcanSki2”, with the hopes of reaching those that could benefit from programs like hers, that teach others how to “live again through the sport of water skiing”. Her commitment to teaching other disabled persons how to water ski is also shown in her determination as a competitor.
She was a five time winner of the Women’s Overall title at the National Disabled Water Ski Championships and has won two Overall Titles at world level competitions in 1991 and 1993 and in 1989, after five tries, she became the first woman to complete a jump on a sit ski during the World Trophy, a national record capability event. Two years later in 1991, she landed all six jumps and claimed the Worlds Woman’s World Jump Title, second in slalom and third in tricks, during the World Trophy event in Michigan.
She has left a legacy of impressive records as an adaptive skier during the last 30 years: in the slalom event , 2.5 buoys as 32 mph at the 1993 inaugural World Championships in Roquebrune, France; a 48 foot jump at the Super Stars Tournament in Groveland, Florida in 1994; and in tricks, 760 points at the 1994 Disabled Nationals in Bartow, Florida. In June of 1994 the U.S. Olympic Committee honored her as Athlete of the Month, citing her long list of world records in jump and long list of event titles she had accumulated as she competed at AWSA sanctioned Disabled World Ski Championships.
Ann’s involvement as a competitor came to an end Oct 22, 1994. During an exhibition at a water skiing clinic at Okeeheelee Park in Palm Beach county, Ann ran into a ski jump while doing a wake-back trick on the side of her wake. The tow boat had just passed the jump as Ann was facing backwards during her trick and slammed into the jump, causing sever damage to her arm and side. The doctors told Ann that she would never have a usable arm or hand again due to the damage to the bone , muscle and especially the nerve damage, which caused paralysis to her right hand. But after 18 months of grueling therapy and determination, she was able to gain 80% of her strength in her arm. She still had no feeling in the top side of her hand, but, in 1996 she proved the doctors wrong by winning the 1996 Disabled Nationals in August, Alabama near Birmingham, and again in 1997.
In in April of 2005 Ann received the Award of Distinction from the American Water Ski Educational Foundation and in July inducted into the Florida Water ski Hall of Fame. Her wall was full of awards, recognitions and appreciations from many groups and organizations such as, Goodwill, Outback and Bay News 9. In 2009 she received the award she seemed to be the most proud of, The Phil Martin Award, for recognition and appreciation of her outstanding contributions and dedication to the advancement of adaptive water skiing, for the WSDA Southern Region.
After her life as a competitive water skier, Ann would quickly tell you that she wanted to help other people with disabilities live a full, happy and active life. “I get as much satisfaction out of training people to water ski as I do in winning an event”. She mostly enjoyed working with children who have disabilities, and said giving them the confidence to be athletic and to water ski is a way to open doors for them as they grow older and face the challenges life throws at them, as it did her.
In 1995 we met Ann at a clinic here in Brevard county, Florida at the C-54 canal. At the time we were owners in the Kierstead Water Ski School and Longboard Racing Water Ski Manufacturing Company. We spent several hours talking with Ann about her program and the problem with getting skis and equipment for adaptive water skiing. We met with Ann several times over the next year developing a ski that would be both a competitive ski and a ski that would give the stability a skier would need being in a seat. Ann took the ski to the 1997 WSDA Disabled Water Ski National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama where in her last competition, she took first place in Womens MP 2/3. We began working with Ann in her clinics and a few years later closed Kierstead Skis to form LiquidAccess, which is dedicated solely to the development of adaptive water ski products. LiquidAccess has since become, effectively, one of two companies world wide, providing water Ski products designed specificity for people with disabilities.
Ann O’Brine-Satterfield was as devoted to promoting public awareness about disabled athletes as she was in helping integrate them into the mainstream by promoting sports and recreation for people with disabilities. We will keep Ann’s memory in the fore front as we continue to move forward.
Ann gave me a quote a few years ago…she said
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, forget what you did,
but will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote reminds me of the first time I skied with her in 1996 and the last time I skied with her.
Winner of 6 National and 2 World Championships
Records formally held by Ann
Slalom – July 8, 1993 – 2.5 buoys @ 52 km per hour
Trick – Aug. 21, 1994 – 760 points
Jump – June 26, 1994 – 14.6 meters
American Water Ski Education Foundation 2005 – Award of Distinction
Florida Water Ski Federation – Hall of Fame
The United States Olympic Committee – Athlete of the Month
2009 Phil Martin Award presented by the Water Skiers with Disabilities Association Southern Region
2009’s Health Advocate Hero of the year presented by Bay News 9
2012 Active Leisure for Life Award presented by the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association