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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Water ski team pays tribute to fallen teammate

 
 

As the Texas A&M water ski team gears up to host the annual Polar Bear Tournament, skiers remember Amanda Hoffman – a four-year veteran of the team and May graduate who passed away last June.
Started in 1975 with help from a former club skier Elgin Fochner, the Polar Bear Tournament was originally held in February and got its name from the chilly weather, said Jim Norton, club president and senior electrical engineering major.
Landen Ehlers, club vice president and senior construction science major, said holding this year’s Polar Bear Tournament in memory of Hoffman simply seemed like the right thing to do.
“Even though [Hoffman] had technically graduated at the time she passed away, she was such an influential part and she had such a passion for our club and our team that we felt it appropriate to recognize that at the first Polar Bear since her passing,” Ehlers said.
Brooke Tolson, club member and senior wildlife and fisheries sciences major, said the Polar Bear Tournament had been one of Hoffman’s personal projects.
“She ran the show for three or four years,” Tolson said “She was just bursting with personality all the time. She literally glowed.”
Ehlers said Hoffman’s love for waterskiing translated easily into a passion for the club.
“She was really active in the club,” Ehlers said. “She loved waterskiing and she really loved being a part of it and hanging out with everyone. She very obviously loved college life and just living in general.”
Ehlers said Hoffman brought a lot of energy into the club, especially at tournaments.
“The people that were in the club were influenced by her energy for sure,” Ehlers said. “Especially when we went to tournaments, she was definitely a leader in the fun-having.”
Norton said the tournament is in part a means of repaying a fellow member who had a keen ability to help her peers improve their skills.
“Pretty much every time she was out and people were skiing she would give them pointers to try and help them improve,” Norton said.
Norton said Hoffman had a way of making the club feel like a family.
“She was always having people over, she hosted a lot of the ‘girls nights,'” Norton said. “She made sure that everyone on the team was a close-knit group. One of the things she emphasized in the meeting was that if we would get together more outside of just meetings and skiing we would really grow as a family. She was big on that last part.”
Ehlers said he hopes the tournament will mean as much to Hoffman’s family as it does to the team.
“We want to honor her memory and how much she loved the club and watersports, collegiate watersports especially,” Ehlers said “We’re just really happy that we have the opportunity to do Polar Bear in Amanda’s name and I really hope it means something to her family because it’s a big deal to us.”
Norton said, in the end, the tournament was really only about one thing.
“Amanda really and truly embodied the collegiate skier, and we want to honor that,” Norton said.
The tournament will be Saturday and Sunday at The Stevenson Ski Ranch in Conroe.

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