XIt is with utmost disappointment that the Backwater Gamblers announce that we will not be able to perform ski shows for our amazing fans at this time. The health and safety of our team members and fans are our primary concern. Due to the current Reopen Illinois phase which mandates social distancing of 6 feet and no large gatherings, it is impossible to perform all the acts you love like our pyramids, doubles, ballet lines, around the boat, and most of our show safely and within these guidelines. As soon as we are able to perform safely again within the guidelines of the state of Illinois, we will absolutely do so and will update our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and let you know.

As we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and rely solely on donations from our fans and sponsors, if you would like to help support us so we can continue to provide family-friendly, free water ski shows to the Quad Cities in the future, you can donate via PayPal ([email protected]), Venmo (@Backwater-Gamblers), or by mailing a check to Backwater Gamblers, 5000 44th Street, Rock Island, IL 61201. We hope to ski you soon!

Team Member Awards

Each year awards are given out to recognize members of the Backwater Gamblers for various accomplishments throughout the season.

Paul Becker Memorial Award

The Paul Becker Memorial Award was created in 2013 in memory of a long-time member of the Backwater Gamblers. It is given to a member of the team who demonstrates a passion for the sport, the team and other members, dedication or longevity in helping the team grow, thrive, and succeed, and a positive attitude at the site on and off the water that makes others want to step up and make the organization better than ever. The award recipient typically displays an ability to fulfill and accomplish tasks and/or head up and take leadership of one or several aspects of the organization.
Paul Becker Memorial Award Recipients
2019 Randy Thompson
2018 Tagen Tipton
2017 Jon Ricketts
2016 Keith Berger
2015 Dennis Heggen
2014 Gene Hast
2013 Brint Burrill

Best Showmanship

The Best Showmanship award is given out to the male and female who are the ultimate performers by smiling, acknowledging the crowd, and putting on the best show possible every time. The winner typically also has a positive attitude, helps out wherever possible, and works with other members to make the show better.
Best Showmanship Award Recipients
Male Female
2019 Collin Ridgley 2019 Leighton James
2018 David Claver 2018 Tagen Tipton
2017 Michael Becker 2017 Charlie Vandersnick
2016 David Claver 2016 Melissa Birdsell
2015 Pat Braet 2015 Mindy Becker
2014 Randy Thompson 2014 Jenna Martel
2013 Bill Obenauf 2013 Mindy Becker
2012 Bob Schultz & Tim Knipper 2012 Trista Foster
2011 Michael Becker 2011 Tagen Tipton
2010 Skyler Tipton, Zack Schultz, Tyler Varner,
Sebastian Einfeldt & Garrett Conway
2010 Bridget Berger
2009 Todd Conway 2009 Tagen Menzer
2008 Tim Knipper 2008 Elisabeth Cross
2007 Nate Broghammer & Tim Knipper 2007 Melanie Anderson
2006 Tim Knipper 2006 Melanie Anderson
2005 Kevin Strauss 2005 Val Thompson
2004 Randy Thompson 2004 Alison Oppel
2003 Dennis Heggen 2003 Val Thompson
2002 Larry Anderson 2002 Chris Ridgley
2001 David Claver 2001 Taryn Menzer
2000 Dennis Pauley 2000 Tagen Menzer
1999 David Claver 1999 Melanie Anderson
1998 Larry Anderson 1998 Deb Anderson
1997 Bob Harkey 1997 Susan Michelle
1996 Adam Strupp 1996 Melanie Wilson
1995 Dennis Heggen 1995 Trista Menzer
1994 Ryan Lawrence 1994 Rachel Newton
1993 Nathan Crotty 1993 Beth Place
1992 Jim Post 1992 Kim Cruchelow
1991 Dennis Heggen 1991 Monica Williams
1990 Randy Thompson 1990 Monica Williams
1989 Dennis Heggen 1989 Kathy Hank
1988 Larry Anderson 1988 Susan Burrill
1987 Dennis Heggen 1987 Tricia Seams
1986 Tim Fogel 1986 Jody Anderson

Most Improved

The Most Improved award is given to the male and female who worked hard at improving their skills from the beginning of the season until the end, whether they are a boat driver, announcer, skier, or any other role on the team.
Most Improved Award Recipients
Male Female
2019 Collin Ridgley 2019 Kiera Shillinger
2018 Patrick Hathaway 2018 Leighton James
2017 Jordan Allender 2017 Olivia Uhde
2016 Zack Schultz 2016 Kayla Clawson
2015 Prestyn Woods 2015 Kennedy Scott
2014 Garrett Van Osdel 2014 Kennedy Scott
2013 The Jump Team 2013 Kaitlyn Mayes
2012 Bob Schultz 2012 Jenna Martel
2011 Chad Uhde 2011 Connie Chapman
2010 Dakota Einfeldt 2010 Bridget Berger
2009 Christopher Heggen 2009 Tanner Thompson
2008 Todd Conway 2008 Elisabeth Cross
2007 Seth Mullen 2007 Angela Mullen
2006 Curt Oppel 2006 Emily Buckwaler
2005 Josh Burkhead 2005 Tristan Thompson
2004 Pat Braet 2004 Tristan Thompson
2003 Zack Blaszczyk 2003 Alison Oppel
2002 Sam Heggen 2002 Rebekah Geffert
2001 Dave (Cowboy) Requet 2001 Trista Menzer
2000 Brian Dennison 2000 Kara Bailey & Pam Poulos
1999 David Claver 1999 Amy Chapman
1998 David Anderson 1998 Brittany Lewis
1997   1997 Tagen Menzer & Gretchen Post
1996 Jeff Lanum 1996 Kellie Vogt
1995   1995  
1994   1994  
1993 David Claver 1993 Tracey Bailey
1992 Ryan Lawrence 1992 Beth Place

Gambler Award

The Gambler Award was started to recognize a member of the team who was dealt a bad hand, but made the best of it. It has often been presented to members who were hurt in skiing accidents and still continued to help the team out in other ways, but has been presented to members for dealing with a variety of other hardships as well and still putting their time and effort into the team. 
Gambler Award Recipients
2019 Chad Uhde
2018 Austin Roberts
2017 Michael Becker
2016 Randy Thompson, Susan Jepsen, Teresa Hoffman, & Pat Braet
2015 Megan Obenauf & Dakota Einfeldt
2014 Scott Allender
2013 Michael, Mindy and Matthew Becker & Emily Birdsell
2011 Susan Michelle Jepsen & Chris Heggen
2010 Nick Foster
2009 The Horton family & Mindy Becker
2008 Tim Place
2007 Brint Burrill & Gene Hast
2006 Kevin Vogt
2005 Alison Oppel
2004 Adam Place
2003 Marsha Place
2002 Becky Pauley & Mark Van Osdel
2001 Mark Poulos
2000 Justin Brandt
1992 Randy Heggen