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Water-skiing world champ balances sport with graduate studies

Nov 28, 2017
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After Dane Mechler graduates from Florida State University this spring with his Master of Science in Finance (MSF), he has a few things to do before starting his new job as a corporate finance valuation associate at Grant Thornton in Charlotte, N.C.

The world champion slalom water skier will spend the summer competing against the top water skiers in the world in pro tournaments in Italy, England, France, Norway, Spain and the U.S.  

Since landing at Florida State last fall, Melcher, who attended the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on full academic and water skiing scholarships, has been balancing his graduate studies with his water skiing training at Lake 38 located between Havana and Quincy, Fla. He practices five times a week behind a boat driven by world-renowned driver Keith Albritton, who built the lake.

“I’ve always had to balance school and water skiing, and it’s always worked,” said Mechler, who was connected to Grant Thornton through a College of Business alumnus he met at Seminole Futures. “Water skiing keeps me in shape and helps reset my mind so I can focus on studying. My plan is to do the same when I’m working full time. I hope I’ll be able to.”

The Cincinnati native, who started water skiing at age 5 and competing at 7, says he and his family – his father, a chiropractor, and mother, who manages MRI centers, and older brother – skied on his hometown lake until it froze over, then headed out again at the first sign of thaw on “some seriously cold water.”

Today at 22, Mechler - who specializes in slalom, trick and jumping - can boast of some seriously impressive accomplishments:

  • 2016 USA Water Ski Male Athlete of the Year
  • 2016 U.S. World University Water Ski Slalom Champion (Akita, Japan)
  • Member of the gold-medal winning team, U.S. World University Water Ski Championship (Akita, Japan)
  • Two-time National Collegiate Slalom Champion (Baton Rouge, La., and San Diego, Calif.)
  • 2015 Under 21 World Slalom Champion (Madrid, Spain)
  • USA National Champion - 2014 (San Marcos, Texas)
  • Two-time Malibu Open Champion (Milwaukee, Wis.)

“The experiences I’ve been able to have through water skiing have been invaluable to my career and, I hope, moving forward,” Mechler said. “I have been able to travel to several countries and meet so many great people from around the world. I think this is something that many students do not get to do, and I am so lucky to be able to experience this at such a young age.”

As an undergraduate student athlete majoring in finance and economics, Mechler maintained a near 4.0 grade point average while competing in Australia, Germany, Spain, Japan and France.

He also has successfully balanced co-chairing the National Collegiate Water Ski Association’s advisory council and interning in corporate development with Goode Ski Technologies in Utah.

Don Autore, Dean L. Cash Associate Professor of Finance, who had Mechler in his summer MSF class, said Mechler is an excellent student and modest about his accomplishments. Autore himself grew up water skiing in New Jersey and was NCAA All-American in Slalom Water Skiing in 1993, so he is aware of the sacrifices Mechler made to excel as a water skier.

Mechler is intent on excelling in finance as well.

 “Since arriving at FSU, my water skiing has taken a little bit of a backseat to my academics,” Mechler said. “FSU’s business school has so many great resources, and I want to take full advantage of them during my time here.” 

-by Barbara Ash





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