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Ten Thousand Hours & Counting

Librarian Matt Penn reveals hidden passion

Chad Mendez

Chloe-Amelie Aikman, Staff Writer

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It’s six o’clock – the show’s about to begin. Concessions line the shores and throngs of people settle down with children, friends and relatives; they wait, eyes on the water until finally, they see it. Fully costumed, strapped to skis and skimming the surface of Tower Lake, tonight’s performers will include none other than Matt Penn, resident librarian and long devoted show-skier.  

Unbeknownst to many, Penn has been in the extreme water sports scene since the early 2000s. He is a member of the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team, as well as an active participant in their weekly Saturday ski-shows performed at Tower Lake in Oldsmar.  

“I really like every Saturday, just kind of being on stage and looking forward to that and doing something – something that very few people are exposed to; it really has that wow factor,” Penn said. 

Each uniquely themed performance comes with tricks including barefoot skiing, wake boarding, flips and human pyramids – where Penn supports fellow teammates at the base of the formation.  

Not alone in his pursuit, the team is comprised of about 100 members who compete at regional and national levels, and have also set a world record with their seven-man front flip over a regulation 14-foot wide jump. They are always looking for new members and opportunities to inspire others to try waterskiing.  

“It’s a real family atmosphere. We have everything from little kids learning, up to grandparents and everybody in between,” Penn said.  

Penn first became involved in this theatrical form of water sports looking to teach his own kids how to waterski, something he enjoyed as a child – an opportunity that arose in the form of a newspaper advertisement found by his wife.  

Since then, his daughter has taken to it and they’ve gone on to compete in a doubles competition together.  

Penn’s commitment to his passion is best described in his own words.  

“I’ve been on the team for 15 years. You know how Malcolm Gladwell, he’s an economist, he’s written a lot of books – he has a theory that in order to be really, really good at something you need to put your ten thousand hours in. I’ve put my ten thousand hours in,” Penn said.

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7 Responses to “Ten Thousand Hours & Counting”

  1. Elizabeth on September 1st, 2017 8:04 am

    It looks really fun


  2. Bibi on September 1st, 2017 9:04 am

    This is a reallu cool story, I want to go! Yall should find more hidden talents among our community


  3. Natalie on September 1st, 2017 9:05 am

    That looks really cool, I didn’t know Mr Penn did that!


  4. Briana on September 1st, 2017 9:06 am

    That was cool


  5. Gabriella❤️🌸✨ on September 1st, 2017 9:08 am

    Mr. Penn is amazing!!!! I have never known someone of that age that can do that kind of stuff. Way to go Mr. Penn ❤️


  6. Olivia on September 1st, 2017 9:09 am

    This looks really fun


  7. Zeyda on September 4th, 2017 11:28 am

    This is such a cool video. I really want to go see it in person now.


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Ten Thousand Hours & Counting