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Wakeboarding gaining popularity

Underground sports are more popular than ever, and the USF Wakeboarding club is riding the wave, becoming a real presence within the USF community.

Wakeboarding is a surface water sport that involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water behind a boat. It was developed from a combination of water skiing, snow boarding and surfing techniques.

Among the tricks wake boarders perform on a regular basis is the “Bel Air,” which happens when a rider back flips over the wake perpendicular to the direction of the board without using the wake for air. Another is the “Osmosis 540.” The 540 is one of the toughest tricks to pull off, requiring the rider to pass the handle behind his back, pop the handle and catch it again upon the end of the rotation.

The Wakeboard club is relatively young – just a little older than the football team. Founded in the early ’90s as the water-ski club, wakeboarding has become a big hit. With 296 members, it is the largest club on campus.

Competing in the Collegiate Nationals Southeastern Qualifier two weeks ago, USF wakeboarding started to make a name for itself by finishing in the top five overall and advancing six of its riders to the finals in its first-ever national competition appearance.

Jeremy Tomlinson, one of the riders, said he foresees USF wakeboarding rising in the standings and getting better as a team in the future.

Meanwhile, Keven Rayne, one of the leading riders, said he was moved when he overheard two University of Florida students – who had previously won the National Championship – say, “Man, USF really came out of nowhere with these riders – they are really good.”

USF’s division includes Valencia Community College, Rollins College, Florida Gulf Coast, Kennesaw State, Tennessee State and Georgia. The wakeboarding club is not affiliated with the NCAA or the Big East Conference.

Rayne believes that USF has a lot of potential, but he believes it is too early to compare the club to other schools in Florida.

“We are so young as a team. We have the talent to be one of the best, but without further competition (it’s hard to compare),” Rayne said.