How a CO Springs ad agency owner became a world champion jet skier

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Dawn Dawson leads a double life.During the week, the owner of Reflections Advertising in Colorado Springs works with clients and voices radio and TVcommercials. When the weekend comes she cuts loose on the water, although she recently traded her Jet Ski and a world title for a fishing pole and a bass boat.

How did this attractive businesswoman get involved in the rough and tumble world of Jet Ski racing? What drove her to go head-to-head with male and female competitors, most nearly half her age, and come out on top?

When Dawn moved to Colorado in 1985 from Texas, days at the Pueblo Reservoir helped her to not miss the ocean. Nine years ago a friend brought a Jet Ski to the Pueblo Reservoir and encouraged her to try it. She loved it and kept getting in line with the kids to have another try. She was hooked! She talked her husband into getting a Jet Ski and the more she drove it, the more she realized she could become good at it. “I’m not athletic by nature, but I was willing to work hard to acquire the expertise,” she states.

What exactly is Jet Skiing? “It’s basically motocross on water,” replies Dawn. It’s not just a sport for the young, as the average age is 41. Jet Skiing is one of the few sports where women can compete on a par with men.

How safe is Jet Skiing? According to Dawn, the racing profession is very safety oriented and participants wear full safety gear. It’s a great family sport, but recreational riders must be safety trained before driving. The International Jet Sport Boating Association studied recreational use accidents and discovered that non-owners caused ninety percent of the mishaps. Dawn helped Michael French, Park Manager at the Pueblo Reservoir, to start Jet Ski safety classes in 1995. “He’s done a fabulous job with the classes,” she says.

What made her take up competitive racing? “I met someone at Prospect Lake practicing for a race on a custom Jet Ski,” she said. “I decided I wanted to race and built my first custom Jet Ski; it can go up to 55 mph.” Dawn then put herself on a strict regimen. She enlisted personal trainers to help increase her strength, cardio and endurance and cites Doug at Extreme Condition and Dr. Steve Long, a sports and psychology coach at the Motere Institute in the Springs as her primary motivators. “I was in the best shape of my life,” Dawn states.

What separates competitive skiing from tooling around the lake for fun?

“Competitive racing involves navigating buoys on a prescribed course, which can vary from 8 to 10 laps (12 to 16 for experts). Your competitors are your race opponent and the water conditions,” she asserts.

She competed in her first race in 1994, then went on the national tour in 1998 and 1999, while simultaneously running her ad agency. Her husband became her mechanic.

Dawn become the 2000 Ranking World Champion Expert Women’s Ski at Lake Havasu, Arizona, competing against 1,500 riders from at least 10 countries.

She retired from competitive racing in 2001. “I planned to retire before I won the title, so winning was like a fairytale – a dream come true,” says Dawn. What’s next? “I’m exploring bass fishing,” she states with a gleam in her eye. “We’ve already attended some bass tournaments.”

What did she learn from her Jet Skiing days? “The freedom and independence to explore and play,” she replies, “I loved making myself into an athlete,it made me feel independent and confident.”

Does anything carry over to the business side of her life? “Jet Skiing was a great stress reliever. Advertising is a high stress industry; you must maintain an edge and stay creative; racing helps me stay psychologically and emotionally fit and maintain my focus. What I learned helps me to this day,” she concludes.

Dawn graduated from Sul Ross State University with a business administration degree and a minor in marketing. She relocated from Dallas to Colorado Springs in the mid-eighties and did production and on air talent for KCS FM.

There are two people who most influenced her career path. Long time local radio man Bob Gourley is one of them. “He has been a great influence on me and encouraged me to start my ad agency,” Dawn states. The other is Dale Nixon of Pan Studios, who got her into the voice-over business. Of course, the most supportive man in her life is her husband of 9 years, Tim Garber.

In 1991 she founded Reflections Advertising, an agency offering marketing, advertising and public relations services. She has worked nationally and locally as a voice-over talent for radio and TV for 12 years. The next time you hear a friendly female voice enticing you to visit this carpet store or that workout place it just might be Dawn Dawson, a gal who followed her dream and become a world champion!

Rosanne Gain owns Rosanne Gain Public Relations in Colorado Springs. She advises her clients to pursue interests outside of their jobs to achieve balance in their hectic lives. She can be reached at 719-266-8910 or at rgpubrel@codenet.net <mailto:rgpubrel@codenet.net