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In the wake of first tournament, UNT wakeboarding club prepares for future competitions

In the wake of first tournament, UNT wakeboarding club prepares for future competitions

In the wake of first tournament, UNT wakeboarding club prepares for future competitions
March 28
01:20 2019

While wakeboarding is not an NCAA-recognized sport at UNT, the wakeboarding club has been around since 2007 and competes in meets with neighboring colleges like Baylor, Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech. The club consists of athletes of varying skill levels, not all of whom compete. Club president Michala Moore said the club doesn’t pressure anyone to compete and enjoys the laid-back nature of the sport.

“Even if you don’t go [to the competitions] and compete you’ll still be able to ride and learn something from someone and meet someone new,” Moore said. “You’ll all have something in common. It’s a lifestyle more so than a sport really and that’s the cool thing about it.”

Wakeboarding is a water sport similar to water skiing, except there is one board used opposed to a pair of skis. Many of the students who participate in wakeboarding started out by being introduced to the activity by family or friends, according to Moore.

Since there is not an official collegiate or local league, the competitors tend to be more relaxed in the competitive environment. Many schools in the state of Texas host tournaments that keep the club busy. The club’s social media manager, Tanner Flynn, said she is grateful for the accepting environment at the wakeboarding tournaments.

“People just want you to land good stuff,” Flynn said. “They don’t want you to fall. They’re going to cheer you on and be like, ‘nice’ when you land something because they want to support you. It’s competitive obviously, but in the laid back atmosphere, you’re supported. If you succeed you’re only contributing to the team. If you mess up you’re not taking away.”

Seth Spears flies off a ramp in the cable competition for UNT Wake Club on March 24, 2019. Image by: Jordan Collard.

Club vice president Jeremy Couvillon joined the club his freshman year with no prior wakeboarding experience after seeing a booth at a recruiting event.

“Going in as a new member, I was a little nervous getting on the water for the first time, just falling right off the dock,” Couvillon said. “The team makes it fun. They make it worth it. The team tries to teach you and help you out.”

The club does not have a traditional practicing schedule and members practice at the local cable course, Hydrous Water Park in Little Elm, whenever they get a chance. 

“Before competitions, we try to go out to Hydrous whenever we can, or before the actual competitions, we try to go out and ride,” Couvillon said. “It’s nothing too serious where we have to practice every day leading up to a competition.”

The club recently hosted their first tournament in Little Elm on March 23-24, with seven of their members competing. The tournament had two parts, one being pulled boat and the other cable. Three athletes advanced to the beginner’s cable finals Sunday afternoon.

Sophomores Robert McCullough and juniors Seth Spears and Kieler Isham advanced to the finals in the men’s beginners division. Sophomores Josh Nicholson and Skylar Beill placed in their competing categories along with McCullough and Isham. Nicholson placed second in the men’s advanced boat portion and Biell placed third. McCullough placed first in the beginner’s men cable portion and Isham placed third. Isham also placed third in the men’s open cable.

“I think the tournament went phenomenal,” Isham said. “The team came together and put on a well run, smooth competition. I am extremely proud of our team and a huge thanks to everyone that came out and all of our sponsors.”

Moore said hosting a tournament is a lot more stressful than competing, but it was one of the most organized tournaments the other collegiate teams have seen.

“It went really well,” Moore said. “Better than we had hoped. Now that we understand what all the school needs to get everything approved, we expect a larger turnout next year. The judges were impressed and told us, ‘wow, this is your first competition and it’s going well.’ Getting a team together to go to a competition is way easier than this.”

Next, the UNT wake team will be competing in the Texas State Collegiate Classic on April 5 at Texas Ski Ranch. Moore thinks that the wakeboarding club has solid potential to perform well in future competitions.

“The biggest challenges we face [in the upcoming competitions] is just learning something new we haven’t done before,” Moore said. “Honestly, I feel like we have a solid team and that we’re quick on our feet and make anything happen we set our minds to.”

Featured Image: Sophomore Robert McCullough hangs in the air while competing in the cable competition for the UNT Wake Club on March 24, 2019. Image by: Jordan Collard.

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Bayleigh Swanton

Bayleigh Swanton

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