Making Waves: Indy Ski School Celebrates 10 Years on Geist

Derek Dechert
Derek Dechert

| Janet C. Striebel | Photos by Brenda Staples Photography

The Indy Ski School on Geist is celebrating its ten-year anniversary. This is probably the coolest summer school offered (literally) since kids can learn how to ride the waves in their comfort zone. Lessons are offered during the week when the water is much calmer than on the weekend when so many boaters are out.

“We are going on our tenth year,” says Derek Dechert, founder and chief instructor of Indy Ski School on Geist ( “Over the course of years, we’ve had over 800 students take our classes. We provide expert watersport instruction for all ages – and we should probably get a sponsorship from Little Debbie since we consume so many oatmeal creme pies!”

How Did Indy Ski School Begin?

Derek has been skiing since the age of six. He is a certified instructor through USA WATERSKI. After graduating from IU Bloomington in 1992, he went to Los Angeles where he started his career in the entertainment business as a freelance technician. When Derek isn’t skiing, he’s working as a union stagehand where his specialty is lighting.

Years ago, he worked on the Jeopardy show and then the NBC soap “Sunset Beach.” Recently, he helped with a Super Bowl commercial featuring Deon Sanders. Derek admits, “I have a great freelance career that allows me to take the time to do the ski school each summer and then go back to the entertainment world. In fact, this year I’m cutting the ski school a few weeks short because I have to be in Vegas to light the Cook Medical 50-Year Anniversary Conference.”

Derek with wife Pam and son Brody
Derek with wife Pam and son Brody

“I have had some pretty amazing local kids as instructors over the last ten years,” says Derek who lives in Geist with his wife, Pam, and four-year-old son, Brodie. They are members of St. Simon Church where Derek has donated lessons. He has always gravitated toward helping others. In fact, when he first moved to Geist he gladly assisted many of his neighbors in learning how to ski. As a result, they told him that he should start a school to help others in the Geist community because they could recognize his sincere patience and passion for teaching watersports. So that’s the path (or wake) Derek decided to take. He continues, “I have had the help of Molly Harrison, a nationally-ranked trick skier; Jessica Hults, an Indiana state champ in wakeboarding; and, of course, Nate Smith, the number one men’s slalom skier on the planet right now.”

Derek proudly recalls having taught Jessica how to ski on Geist when she was about ten years old. After completing her senior year in high school, she began to assist him with lessons and is now on the Indiana University Waterski and Wakeboard Team. Furthermore, Nate is featured in the most recent issue of Water Ski Magazine.

New Instructor This Summer

Jason Highley, the new instructor
Jason Highley, the new instructor for this upcoming summer.

The new instructor for this upcoming summer is Jason Highley. Here is his Bio:

Jason Highley is 19 years old and a student at Indiana University. He has lived on Geist for 9 years. He graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School and is also very active in the youth group of Holy Spirit at Geist. Jason has also competed in an amateur wakeboard league for 2 years and each year placed 1st in his class with an invitation to compete in the Regional tournament. Last year, Jason placed 3rd in the Eastern Regional. He is a member of the IU Wakeboard Team as well and placed 2nd in the Collegiate Regional Tournament as the C rider for their team.

Making Memories Upon Wake of Instruction

Indy Ski School on Geist offers beginning waterski, slalom, wakeboard, wake surf, wake skate, beginning barefoot, and kneeboard instruction. Both private lessons and four-day camps are available.

Derek not only enjoys giving lessons but also taking many photos to capture the special moments. He sends hard copies to parents and posts all the photos on his Facebook page and on the local Townepost.

“I love to see kids ski for the first time,” boasts Derek. One summer, Derek tried having two boats for watercraft lessons; but because he felt unsatisfied by not being present in both boats at the same time to take photos, give instruction, and soak in the glory of watching the kids learn and have fun, he quickly gave up on that idea. He concludes, “I love to see smiles on their faces and knowing that they’ll do this the rest of their lives. They can pass on their knowledge to the next generation.”

To sign up for a ski class or to learn how to become an instructor, contact Derek at or visit

Recommendations from Students and Parents

Many people can’t say enough positive things about the Indy Ski School on Geist. Here is what some of them have to say:

  • “Spending a week on the water with Derek was the perfect solution for Addi to tackle her summer ski goals. Derek created excellent memories for her. Improved water confidence and oatmeal creme pies experiences were a bonus! His passion for kids and water made her summer fantastic. Thank you Derek!!” | Juli Bauer
  • “I appreciate the use of the boom device that Derek uses during class time. This is helpful to any child that may be afraid or reticent about being out in the water alone when first getting up on water skis.” | Amelia Rose
  • “We absolutely loved it! Derek was able to accomplish with our girls at 8 years old in one week that which we couldn’t have possibly done throughout the whole summer. The oatmeal creme pies at the end of every session were also a fun and special treat. They look forward to returning every summer!” | Jayson & April Hills
  • “It’s impressive what the kids can learn in one week a year. What’s great about Indy Ski School is that they push the kids hard enough that they learn something new each session, yet they never push them so hard that they don’t enjoy it. Derek and his team do a great job taking a lot of photos and sending them out the same day so parents can see what the kids worked on that day. The photos and the Indy Ski School t-shirt are an added plus. My daughter, Kensi, also likes how they mix it up each year as she gets more experienced and they make sure she tries new things.” | Ellen Knowling
  • “Our daughter, Myla, looks forward to Indy Ski School every summer. She enjoys wake boarding, surfing, and eating oatmeal creme pies with Derek and friends. Myla has been attending for two years now. She has gained so much confidence on her board that she now calls wake boarding her favorite sport.” | Sandy McAlpin
  • “My kids loved learning how to wakeboard and ski which are now their favorite things to do. The instructors make it seem easy even if you’ve never done it before. Because of the Indy Ski School, we ended up buying a boat because my kids couldn’t stand to be out of the water. It also started a family vacation to Dale Hollow every year.” | Melissa Rogers

    Derek and his son Brody spend some time on a wakeboard near dusk.
    Derek and his son Brody spend some time on a wakeboard near dusk.

Comments 1

  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful article!!! I sincerely wish it could have included all of my amazing instructors over the past 10 years!!! A big thank you goes out to Tommy Kruse, Scott Cochran, Cory Libka, Dane Brewer, Matt and Tommy Crowe, Matt Hults, Brandon Lawler, and of course Noah Vieke who is also a pro skier who works for the best ski school on the planet now….Chet Raley down in Palm Beach Florida.

    I could not have done it without you guys!!!

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