Hidden by the successes and popularity of mainstream sports at USF is one of the larger clubs at the university-the wakeboard club.
Previously known as the water sport club, the wakeboard club has been around since the early 1990s. The club wasn’t very successful and almost folded, but in 2005 the club gained fifty members. Now the club is stronger than ever, with more than 200 members and a plethora of reputable sponsors.
“We don’t wakeboard because we have to,” club vice president Marc Laird. “We wakeboard because we want to. You can be as free as you want when you are out there on the water. “
During the warmer months of the year, the club usually goes out every week to wakeboard, water ski, tube or play any other type of water sport. The McCormick’s Ski School near Lake Thonotosassa provides the boat and 20-minute coaching sessions so each member can gain knowledge of the sport and get the practice needed to fully enjoy wakeboarding.
Wakeboarding entails the simplest of ingredients. All you need is a boat, a board and a rope. Step onto the wakeboard and grab the rope. The boat pulls your body, which starts neck-deep in the water, and the only thing you need to know is how to stay upright.
To get better practice, the club will occasionally schedule a meeting at the Orlando Watersports Complex. Here members can hold onto a line that circles a large water arena. Throughout the arena, there are ramps to launch from and do tricks.
“OWC is one of the best places that we go because we can be as wild as we want,” said wakeboard member Christina Montalbano. “It’s like a skatepark for wakeboarders. “
Wakeboarding can be compared to poker in that they are both leisure activities. And just as there is a World Series of poker, there are also wakeboarding competitions. Each entrant is graded on his or her particular style and the tricks each can accomplish.
Though the club reached fifth place in the collegiate national competition last year, they have tended not to compete much in recent years. In the upcoming season, however, the club plans to enter more competitions.
One doesn’t have to be completely versed in “wakeboard etiquette” or even have the practiced ability to be able to stay on a board to join the club.
“This is a club that offers the ability to learn how to wakeboard without any scrutiny,” Laird said. “Ninety percent of our current members are beginners. We take in all levels of talent.”
TO THE ORACLE
You may not notice them, but the club leaders are out participating in what the college campus has to offer. Every year they participate in the homecoming parade, and the club is prepared to have a large showing in this year’s procession. Every Wednesday during the main school year, the club participates in the Bull Market on campus to get the wakeboard club into the public eye.
“We try to get our name and our sponsors out in the pen as much as possible,” Laird said. “We figure it is our duty to try to make our club as famous as possible while providing a great atmosphere and putting the USF name in a good light.”