Meet Donna Cox

8th December 2014

JA: Who is Donna Cox?

I currently work as a National Business Manager for SPC Ardmona. This involves sales into the food industry looking after National Distributor Accounts in the Non-Grocery channel.

JA: What is your sport of choice?

I grew up in a water-skiing family. I started skiing when I was 4 years old and when I was about 8 years old my brother and I tried Tournament Water-Skiing. This included 3 events: Slalom, Trick and Jump skiing. 

I was a former West Australian State and Australian Tournament Water Ski Champion competed for 25 years representing Australia and WA State. I was also inducted in into the West Australian Water Ski Hall of Fame in 2007 at the WAWSA HO at Burswood Perth for my water-skiing achievements over the years.

JA: What is/was your specialist discipline?

My specialist discipline out of the 3 events (Slalom, Trick and Jump) was the definitely the Slalom event. This involved skiing around 6 turning bouys in the slalom course through entrance and exit gates. The boat goes straight down the middle at 52km and after each completed pass the rope gets shorter. If you fall once it’s all over... it’s pretty cut throat.

JA: We hear you won multiple Australian Titles: how many exactly?

I was 16 times Australian Champion throughout my 25 years competing and made 3 Australian Records in the Slalom event.

JA: Did your sport take you overseas at all? Can you tell us a bit about this?

Yes I trained and coached at various ski schools in the USA over 4 consecutive years. I spent 6 months in Medford Oregon and then the rest of my time was spent in Florida USA. Here I coached tournament water-skiing at the ski school and I also took part in various local and interstate US tournaments.

I competed for Australia in many New Zealand vs Australia tests and was selected to compete for Australia in London for the World Games. I also competed in the Bali and Kaula Lumpurfor World Group III Championships. 

JA: What has been the highlight of your career? 

There were many highlights but the big one was winning the Australian Open Women’s Slalom title first year back after 3 seasons out of the sport with a broken femur, which happened when my ski delaminated on the ski ramp at a previous Australian Tournament. I had a pin in my leg for 13 months so I was pretty devastated at that stage of my career. I was hoping to be selected for Australia to compete at the Worlds that next year. When the pin was removed after 13 months I still was unable to ski I had wait at least 6 months for the marrow to fill up the bone once the pin was removed. 

So it was a definite highlight for me coming back into the sport after this injury and winning the 1991 Australian Open Women’s Slalom title against the former World Champion and other Australian team members. It was a great achievement and hard work for me to get back to that pro-level and accomplish this title.

JA: What’s the toughest event or sporting achievement you’ve ever done?

One year after skiing full on in Australia and the USA with pretty much no breaks, my body had a bit of melt down. In my mind I thought I was focused but my body did not want to participate. I couldn’t do anything in my training sessions and I felt my learning had become a chore. When I came back to Australia I decided to give it a break (in fact I was seriously thinking of quitting). I had about 8 weeks not even going near the water or a ski and after this I decided to just go and have a social ski. It was amazing just having 8 weeks off. Everything I had learnt just came back to me and I was skiing better than ever. I skied in the next few tournaments, topping my PB’s all the time. I leant a lot from this, which helped my training immensely.

JA: What’s your favorite training session and what does it involve?

For learning new tricks my dad set up a rope and a weighted pulley at the other end of the rope in the backyard and with a swivel board. I could learn new tricks (360s, 540s and 720s) just by working with pulley and the swivel board, all on dry land before I tried it on the water. This helped get my stance and balance correct on the basics as well. I would spend hour’s just perfecting trick runs on this.

JA: How many training sessions did you do per week & the breakdown?

10 sessions was the maximum on the weekend. During the week I skied after school or work 2 afternoons a weeks (Tuesday & Thursday) this only included trick skiing as you needed more time on the water to learn new tricks than slalom and jump skiing. Usually Monday and Wednesday nights were weight sessions at the gym.

JA: How do you fit all that in, do you work as well – please explain? 

After year 11 at school, I was given an ultimatum – to choose either school or skiing, so I chose skiing. I did go to TAFE and study Laboratory Practices, but my heart was too much into skiing and my sights were set high with where I wanted to go. I was working 3 jobs at one stage, to get enough money to get back to the USA. I also received a couple of WA Govt Sporting Grants to bring back new coaching techniques from the USA and apply them at WA and Australian Ski Schools where I coached.

JA: What are your secrets to sticking to a training program?

Dedication, passion and striving to be the best... it’s what you have to do.  I wouldn’t let anything distract me from my training sessions.

JA: What’s your best excuse for not sticking to a training program?

Ha ha… probably too many jelly fish in the Swan River to trick ski (you tend to fall more in tricks learning). And this is really funny because I use to ski in places like Kununarra WA and Florida USA with crocodiles (fresh water crocs… they say they are the safe species!)

JA: What’s your most dreaded training session and why?

Tricking skiing in the Swan River in WA in summer the river was covered in ugly, slimy brown jelly fish and with learning new tricks you tend to fall most the time. I hated falling in these big jelly fish patches… I think most of the time people fishing on the river thought I was being attacked by a shark…I definitely have a jelly fish phobia.

JA: What’s your next big challenge?

Nothing to do with Water-Skiing… I have always done some form of sport after Water Skiing. I competed in Surf Boats for 8 years in both WA & NSW at various Surf Lifesaving Comps.  Now I run mainly to keep fit but I like to add a couple of Master events in there too. I am looking at competing in various 2km beach runs with Surf Life Saving, and a couple of 8km beach runs with the Wanda Extreme 6km Sandhill race coming up on Australia Day.

JA: Who has been your biggest inspiration in the sporting world?

I guess it would have to be my dad. He taught me that anything was possible if you believed in yourself and to be confident and positive in everything I do (whether it was in a training session, in competition, school, or at work)… a positive attitude was everything!

JA: Your favorite motivational saying?

"Believe it, see it, feel it and do it."

One of my coaches before winning the 1991 Australian Open Women’s Slalom Title said to me “Donna you if you want it you have to want it more than your competition, you have to see it, feel it, touch it and own it as if you already have it and then it’s yours for the keeping”...exactly what I did to win.