Down at the Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, wakeboarders line up on the dock, anxiously anticipating their turn on the cable. From experts to novices, the Texas State wakeboarding club has built a culture centered around community, friendship and the love for the water sport.
Texas State Wake was founded in 2012 and has since expanded from being a small club to a competitive team. The team, which recently competed in the Eagle Claw Classic with three members placing on the podium, is constantly traveling around the state to compete with other collegiate wakeboarding teams in Texas.
Texas State Wake President August Ashlock, a construction science and management senior, joined the team a year and a half ago not knowing how to wakeboard.
“It took me seven tries to get off the dock,” Ashlock said. “I got to the first corner, took about three days to get around the whole thing. And then it took me about two weeks to hit a jump, and then about a month to do my first flip…now, I’m president.”
After banter with his new roommate about their wakeboard mounted on the wall as a decoration, Ashlock asked him about the idea of actually using and trying it out. Shortly after, Ashlock bought his own wakeboard and decided to join the Texas State team.
Texas State Wake welcomes anyone of all levels of experience to join. The club offers a boat team, a wake team as well as the choice of being a general member to hang out with the team at community events or watch competitions.
While some members signed up with the drive to try a new sport, others like Wakeman Fussell, a marketing sophomore and the club’s vice president, came into college with the interest of joining the team.
“My family grew up wakeboarding,” Fussell said. “I’ve always been on a boat my whole life.”
As someone who has been on a wakeboard since the age of 10, Fussell’s father introduced his family to the sport after working for a boat company and growing up doing water sports himself. Fussell’s sister has even joined the family tradition and now wakeboards on the Texas A&M wakeboarding team.
“I’ve never been good at many of the typical [sports], like football, baseball or basketball. [Wakeboarding] is just something that my family has always been super passionate about,” Fussell said. “It just makes me want to be super passionate about it too. It’s a good time for everybody to come together.”
The team has become a family itself. Members find ways to spend time together on and off the board almost daily, ranging from community activities like bowling, nights at Sewell Park and texting each other in their group chat.
“If [the team] is ever doing anything, they’ll say ‘hey, I’m at the library,’ or ‘we’re doing volleyball tonight,’ ‘hey we’re doing bowling,’” Riley Robinson, a communication design sophomore, said. “They text in the chat and we just go.”
Robinson joined the wakeboarding team less than a month ago after the team was doing community outreach on The Quad to recruit new members. She came with a bit of experience from when she was younger but had not thought of getting back into the sport until she approached the tent. Since then, Robinson said the team has been nothing but welcoming and supportive of her wanting to improve in the sport.
“They’re super inclusive, even though every time I get up, I fall. They all want me to do my best and succeed,” Robinson said. “[The team] is very helpful and they give great advice.”
The love for being on the water seems to be a driving factor for the team. Kaito Letkiewicz, an ocean surfer and business management junior, picked up a wakeboard for the first time three weeks ago wanting to try another water sport.
Trying to correlate his experience surfing to wakeboarding, Letkiewicz still considers himself a beginner. His goal, however, is set on competing. Since starting, he has already been making progress and has learned new tricks.
“It’s very doable,” Letkiewicz said. “I just like trying new things and meeting new people and that’s kind of the whole point of the club.”
Fussell said that the common interest shared by the wakeboarders builds a stronger bond and connection with the team. Because the club accepts members from all experience levels, Fussell said that he felt part of a community during his first year on the team.
“It’s a really good place to make friends and have a good time if you’re in college,” Fussell said.
For more information on Texas State Wake, visit its Instagram @texasstatewake.