WALKER, Minn. (WCCO) — There is a right-of-passage in Minnesota’s lake communities when one learns to ride the water’s surface.
On Leech Lake, that first lesson in water skiing is often left to one man: Roy Huddle.
“The key to teaching is someone who wants to learn,” said Huddle, of Huddle’s Resort.
He spends six days a week in the driver seat of his Alumacraft.
“I pull for about three hours, sometimes four,” Huddle said.
Carissa Kraus, Huddle’s granddaughter, says his favorite part of the day is when he gets to take skiers out at 1 p.m.
“The first time I took someone out was quite a while ago,” Huddle said. “I was 12 years old at the time.”
More than six decades later, Huddle estimates he’s taught nearly 6,000 people to water ski.
“That’s a big number, but it’s not a surprise at all,” said Courtney Kraus, another of Huddle’s grandchildren.
“The reward is when you see someone make it up for the first time and the smile on that kid’s face or that person’s face makes it all worthwhile,” Huddle said.
Lisa Roddy never forgot her lesson.
Huddle taught her to ski 46 years ago. Today, she can easily slalom ski behind Huddle’s boat.
“If you fall once, twice, three times, four times, he just keeps making you try, try, try until you get up,” Roddy said.
Ask his former students and they’ll tell you it’s his patient approach that gives kids the confidence to keep going.
“If you don’t learn today, he’ll say, there’s skiing tomorrow,” said Sara Landreville, one of Huddle’s former students.
Huddle also relies on the help of an extra instructor who stays in the water with the first-time skiers.
“We’ve had some nice young people helping us in the water and help the kids get up on the skis. That’s a big part of it,” Huddle said.
There’s also a long standing tradition at Huddle’s Resort that gives first-time skiers added incentive. When a skier is able to stand, they get to sign their name and the date they learned on a ski.
“It’s cool to go back and search those skis and find your name,” Carissa Kraus said.
While falling is inevitable when learning to waterski, on Leech Lake, Huddle is there to lift skiers up.
“It’s exciting for them,” Huddle said. “The look on their face and feeling they have, that they come back and know they can do it, that’s why we do it every afternoon starting at 1 p.m.,” Huddle said.
In recent years, Huddle added tubing to the mix. He realized not everyone wanted to ski but still wanted their turn on the water.
If you’d like to learn more about Huddle’s Resort, click here.