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October 22, 2009

National championship water ski team competes with newly donated trailer

Local businessman Dean Blackett leads a successful environmental services company today, but he once spent time in Redondo Beach, Calif., lifeguarding along the Pacific Ocean.

When Blackett and his wife eventually relocated to Louisiana, he founded PAC Environmental Services, but never forgot his days near the open water.

Almost instantly he was drawn to the outstanding accomplishments of the University of Louisiana at Monroe Water Ski Team. Blackett recently contacted ULM Ski Coach Treina Landrum about what he could do to demonstrate his support.

Landrum – recalling the team’s frequent trailer rentals for hauling equipment to national competitions – realized exactly what was needed.

Blackett not only purchased the team their own trailer, he had it customized with past and current team members’ pictures, as well as the ULM Warhawks logo. Members of the ULM ski team visited with Blackett and thanked him for the generous donation, unveiled at a ceremony in Warhawk Circle on campus earlier this month.

“We’re here to celebrate a history of success,” said Michael Echols, Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications, of the national championship team. “In recognition of that history, we have a donor who has followed your success.”

“It’s pretty neat when someone calls and asks what you need,” said Landrum. “Mr. Blackett said ‘it sounds like what they really need is a trailer’... and, with all the extras he insisted be included, he made it so much more than just something to haul equipment.”

“I looked at all the awards you had won,” Blackett told the ski team members. “And I thought, these are the people that need something special. You need the recognition, that’s why I did it. Keep up the good work!”

The team is headed toward a hopeful win at their 22nd national competition in Bakersfield, Calif., for the National Collegiate Water Ski Association’s National Championship Tournament this weekend.

The team qualified for the competition through their win at the South Central Regional Water Ski Tournament, hosted by the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, on Oct. 3. The team also won the University of Texas Fall Classic Water Ski Tournament in September and the 2009 Ragin’ Cajun Water Ski Tournament, hosted by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Men’s team members include: Martin Bartalsky of Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia; Kyle Dammann of Lynchberg, Tenn.; Rob Paterson of North Vancouver, British Columbia; Daniel Odvarko of Prague, Czech Republic; Will Oliver of Hull, United Kingdom; Adam Sedlmajer of Prague, and Zack Worden of Deltona, Fla.

The women’s team members are: Kate Adriaensen of Antwerp, Belgium, Brittany Collins of Murray, Ky.; Emily Darwin of Bossier City; Tatiana Hernandez of Bogota, Colombia; Carly Marquess of Paducah, Ky.; Tina Rauchenwald of Vienna and Karen Stevens of Morrisburg, Ontario.

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