Why We Ride
I ask myself all the time why it is I bother chasing this passion for wakeboarding- a passion that has become permanently cemented into my roots. Similar to many other riders I know, I have a tendency to spend all of the money I have either on gas to put in a boat, or a pass to get on the cable. I spend all of my time either daydreaming about riding, actually riding, or watching videos of riding. I spend all of my energy trying to show people why I love it so much, and becoming overwrought with joy when I watch a fellow rider- a friend- land a new trick for the first time. Why its worth getting up at five-thirty in the morning (sometimes when its forty degrees outside) to make it to the lake by sunrise- giving you just enough time to catch that cool, calm water. Every now and then Ill sit back and ask myself why am I doing this? The desire to excel in something unique, or the adrenaline rush, maybe but I have come to realize that its about more than the act of riding itself. The sport of wakeboarding has created this community of people unlike any other- people who are passionate about not only the riding, but also what it does for us as human beings. It teaches us to appreciating breathtakingly beautiful places in the world, it encourages friendships, helps us to push each other to improve, push ourselves, and provides us with a measurable goal. Its impossible to beat that feeling of flying across that glassy water, with a glowing sun just barely visible over the horizon, looking down at your reflection in the water and feeling weightless, forgetting about everything except being right there in that moment, realizing just how wonderful it is to be part of such an incredible world. We, as riders, cant help but develop an unconditional love for our sport and the community it has created.Reread that carefully. Its our sport thats growing. Not the sport or that sport- its ours. Its our sport because we- the people who are crazy enough to chase it- these are the people who are helping it continue to grow. Its a very young sport, with endless potential. This year was the first year during which members were officially inducted into the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame- a huge step to legitimizing the industry and the sport overall. Left and right, volunteer groups and companies involved directly with wakeboarding are evolving, paving the way for our expansion. In order to benefit our sport to its fullest potential, there lies an increasing requirement for more stability and structure, provided not only by organizations such as the WWA that have dedicated their brand to the sport, but that is also encouraged by each and every individual involved in the industry. As the change and growth in the industry continues increasing exponentially, in the background brews the continuous buildup of excitement that you can practically see, taste, and touch. You can feel an atmospheric change when you walk through a group of riders- a tangible energy in the air around you. You can see it in people. In the clothes they wear, in their hairstyles, in the excitement thats shared when a new edit is shown or when an award is given, even in the way they greet each other. Being a wakeboarder becomes part of who we are- part of each of our identities, and it should be something that we thrive to share with the people around us. To show them why its worth setting your alarm before the sun comes up. Why its worth trying that trick over and over- suffering through the painful falls- to finally experience the thrill of the landing. Show people how easily it is to form some of the closest friendships youll ever make by sharing a love for such a wonderful sport. So how do we do that? The answer is simple: get involved. Its about so much more than dropping a boat in once a month and getting behind it on a board for ten minutes, or grabbing an all day cable pass once a summer. All of us want our sport, and our athletes, to be recognized for what we have and what it takes to be a wakeboarder. Theres one way to make that happen- share the joy and the sport of wakeboarding with the people around you. Getting involved within the world of wakeboarding is so much simpler than it may appear. If you live on a lake, or near a cable, put together a local competition for the kids in the area- ask for volunteers and they will come. Start coaching private lessons for those who want to learn or to improve their current skill set. Pass the handle to someone new, and let him or her experience the thrill of wakeboarding. The love and passion is contagious- it just has to start somewhere. Introduce people to the community and encourage them to participate in a nearby upcoming event. Help riders set goals for themselves, and give them a place to show off their individual style and talent. Send your kids to one of the hundreds of summer camps that are offered. Start a camp yourself. Get involved in this community of crazy, wonderful athletes. In all of our goofy ways, theres a bond that cant be broken. So embrace it, for everything that its worth, and lets share it- every part of it- with each other and the world around us.