Can-do kid


Jennifer Gilbert


4 questions


What do you want to be when you grow up?

Famous wakeboarder.


What is your favorite food?

Steak and strawberries.


What is your weird talent?

I always draw a little cartoon.


Who inspires you?

My dad and my mom, because they gave me confidence.



With another Chicago winter upon us, most kids are thinking about sledding, building snowmen and making snow angels. Not Channahon resident Meagan Ethell. This fifth-grader spends nearly all her free time (in the winter and year-round) wakeboarding.

"I love how much height you get in the air," she says.

On a family vacation to Michigan, Meagan saw some people wakeboarding on the lake and decided she wanted to try it herself. One lesson was all it took for Meagan to fall in love with the sport and for her parents to see her natural talent.

During the school year, Meagan travels to Florida to train every two to three weeks and during the summer she’s there full time, practicing five to six hours a day.

"If I do it every single day it wears me out but if I’ve been working on it and it’s been a few weeks, I want to work on it again," says Meagan.

With two other kids and a business to run, Meagan’s schedule leads the family to split time between Illinois and Florida whenever they can.

"I take all the kids with during the summer and my wife comes down every three weeks," says dad John Ethell. "My wife stays behind to run the business."

Traveling for most of the year (Meagan is also participating in eight or nine competitions this year) leads to a lot of homework to catch up on. Like most kids, she’d rather spend her time on things other than homework. According to her dad, Meagan tells her parents that she wants to be homeschooled so she can have more time to wakeboard.

"She loves it," says John. "We don’t make it a job for her."

All the training and practice has definitely paid off.

Meagan is the best 10-year-old wakeboarder in the world. She competed at the Wakeboard World Championships and placed second against 13-year-olds and won the USA Wakeboard Nationals competition in her age division. Her coach expects her to be one of the top pros when she gets older.

Even though she has already accomplished so much in the sport at such a young age, Meagan still has goals for herself.

"She wants to compete against the men someday," John says. "She’s got a good shot at it."



Do you know a great kid age 14 and under who’s done something amazing? E-mail names and information to

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