Whenever I drive up US-23, I can’t resist gazing at two structures on my right: The Whitmore Lake High School stadium press box, where my writing career started, and the big red ski jump on Whitmore Lake, where it almost ended.
I once volunteered to visit the Whitmore Lake Water Ski Club, the oldest in the state, to try water ski jumping. The problem is, this is not something you can gradually work up to. It’s your basic all-or-nothing proposition.
Take our coach, Hal Baker. On several occasions he had cleared a hundred feet, the sport’s main milestone, but one time he hit the side of the jump so hard, he embedded white paint in his skin. A few times, he leaned back too far, causing him to fall backward into the water – at 50 miles per hour.
“I’ve been pulled out unconscious a few times,” Baker said, with a reassuring maniacal cackle. This was a man who knew the thrill of victory, and the unconsciousness of defeat.