Summer may be the time of year most people get out on the water, but some Hokies have been aquatically active all year long.
In fact, the Virginia Tech Wakeboarding Club has been competing all season and is starting to draw attention after placing third in the Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals, part of the CBS Alt Games, on Saturday.
“This was one of the better things to ever happen to the club,” said club member Nick Schrein. “In years past, we’d come in at fifth or sixth, so this jump to third was huge for us.”
It may seem odd to think of wakeboarding as a competitive sport, but this national event represented the pinnacle of the sport in the U.S. In it, riders are judged based on the complexity and execution of tricks they perform, and are divided into seven categories for competition.
There are four divisions for male riders and two for female riders, with a final division for wakeskating, in which the rider isn’t strapped to the board to allow for more trick possibilities. The team qualified for nationals after competing in regionals in the fall, which Tech hosted this year.
“Most people don’t know much about collegiate wakeboarding, despite Tech consistently being a top five program, so we really hope to continue to grow,” said Adam Van Dyke, club treasurer.
Van Dyke finished first in the men’s “C” division, while fellow club member Jeff Goldblum placed first in the men’s “B” division to pace the club’s performance.
“Our performance at the event was just awesome, Adam and Jeff really stepped up,” Schrein said.
The club has existed in various forms since the 1980s, but has only officially been the Wakeboarding Club since 2008, so club members hope this event will help raise the team’s profile.
“We really hope that people will take notice about this kind of finish at a national competition and that this will attract people to the club,” said club member Joel Wagner.
Considering that the event featured thirteen schools, including major Division I powerhouses like Wisconsin, Florida, and Miami (FL), the team’s success is sure to make people take notice.
“Everyone worked really hard and came together as a team,” said Schrein. “A finish like this makes the team feel better about where we’re headed.”
Many team members echo this optimism about the future.
“I think everyone in this club has serious potential, and we really want to see them build on it,” Wagner said.
After coming so close to a national title this season, the club is focused on achieving the sport’s highest honor next year.
“We’re going for the title next year,” Schrein said. “We have the talent to win, and while we may be losing a few people, we’ve got some young talent coming in so we can compensate for it.”
Overall, next year looks to be a big season for the club.
“In the fall we’ll be going to regionals at the University of Tennessee, and since they won the national title last year, that’ll be a great challenge,” Van Dyke said. “We really just want new students to join us, since we love having people who want to ride and have fun.”