Mike McCormick is living his dad's dream.
Nothing wrong with that. His dad, Jim, had an idea for a cable park, a waterski park that uses a pulley system to let riders grab a line and ski around a long oval-shaped man-made lake. He came up with it in the '70s, and nearly 40 years later it finally came to fruition.
It's the McCormick Cable Park now, run by Jim's son, Mike.
"It's just so awesome for him to see this come to life," McCormick said. "He was a smile from ear to ear. He finally saw something he came up with come to pass and that's exciting to see."
Nearly hidden in Seffner, Mike McCormick has two man-made lakes, including the quarter-mile cable lake. On the grounds, riders can use the cable park, but also ski off a boat, take ski classes, or, if they want, just take in the sights.
"We have a real relaxed, laid back atmosphere here," said Kyle McCutheon, a 22-year-old instructor at McCormick. "Its really a cool place to hang out. I mean, I used to work over at Home Depot, and now this is my new job: sitting around, skiing and being by the water. There's nothing wrong with doing that."
The main pull is the cable park. It can run up to nine riders at a time, and most use it either to wakeboard or wake skate, an upcoming sport where riders use a skateboard without wheels, wears shoes and do tricks similar to skating. Though most riders are college-aged or older, there are some as young as eight and as old as 65, McCormick said. The riders wait their turns off a dock next to a device called an elevator that pulls the ski lines up to the moving cables. The rope pulls off the rider at about 18 mph. McCormick finds the park also very popular with kite surfers because of the similarities.
The park opened Sept. 8 after McCormick and his family put more than $1 million into building it. McCormick's is one of four cable parks in Florida and one of seven in the nation. They're sprouting up here and there, and McCormick points out a reason more riders are converting to cable parks is because it doesn't require owning a boat. Or equipment.
"All you need is a bathing suit," McCormick said referring to how the park rents everything from wakeboards to skis and life jackets. "You don't have to worry about the hassle of a boat. There's no gassing it up or who's going to drive or who can drive. Anyone can come out and just go ride. That's the whole point: getting quick, affordable rides without a boat."
There are regulars — riders there on a daily basis. Those are cable rats, but many bring the whole family, sitting around all day as if they were at a lake party.
And there are plans — such as a concession stand, a clubhouse for changing and eating, a log roll, a water trampoline, a blob and even plans to do night rides — but most like the way things are run at the park. Like a resort for waterskiing.
"When I found it online, I just came out since I just started wake skating," 20-year-old Danny King, a student at Hernando Community College, said. "The place is just sick because I don't have a boat or know anyone with one. It's just a really laid-back atmosphere, so I can ride as much as I want."
McCormick, who's been around skiing since he could walk, wants that. The park may vary a bit from what his father envisioned, but things change. The sport evolves, so do the riders.
The one thing that didn't change was Jim McCormick's dream. That's alive and well, thanks to the park.
"We have a very laid-back, kind of island feel out here," McCormick said. "We're very friendly and we enjoy getting first-timers out here; we encourage them to try everything they can. We're a park for the rider. We're not just out here to pull and be done with. We want people to get better at it."
Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 544-1771.