By Kristin Burns
A bloody head and cracked wakeboard are only small drawbacks the Baylor wakeboarding team has faced.
The club has become highly competitive at the national level in the past few years and has shown that Baylor has very talented wakeboarders, said Austin senior Reagan Strickland, the president of Baylor Wake.
“It was formed by a couple of guys and a couple of girls who just loved wakeboarding,” he said.
Baylor Wake has grown to 80 people since its beginnings in 2009.
“We are currently ranked third in the nation and are headed to nationals in April,” Strickland said.
San Antonio senior Dakota Park has been on the team since his freshman year and serves as the captain of Baylor Wake.
“My main jobs are making sure that the boat is working, competitions and being the face of the team,” Park said. “We’re going to try to host our first tournament here on the Brazos next semester, and I’m in charge of that.”
Baylor Wake competes in a series called the Empire Collegiate Wakeboarding Series since wakeboarding is not a Division one sport, Park said. The national championship is in April in Las Vegas and Baylor Wake has already qualified.
“We really want to win the whole thing this year,” he said.
Strickland said Baylor Wake has already beaten the reigning champions, Arizona State University, twice this semester. The team is excited about the outlook, he said.
At a competition, the judges score in four categories: style, technicality, amplitude and composition. Technicality is the difficulty of the trick, amplitude is how high the rider goes and composition is the combination of the tricks so they flow smoothly together, Strickland said.
Some of the tricks are: a whirly bird, which is a backflip with an overhead turn of 360 degrees; the tantrum, which is a backflip; the scarecrow mobe, which is a front flip with a turn of 360 degrees; and the raley, which looks like a “Superman” pose.
“Sometimes, you just have a knack for it, and then sometimes, it comes with hard work,” Strickland said. “It comes a lot from trial and error.”
On Monday afternoon, the competitive group, that includes four of the 80 members, went out on the Brazos River to practice. The individuals wore wetsuits to protect themselves from the cold temperature of the water.
Riders encouraged their teammates and cheered when they landed a hard trick. No rider completed the ride without busting it at least once. This is how they learn the best, Strickland said.
It’s not always fun and games. When New Iberia, La., junior Tori Broussard fell after a trick and cut her scalp, she wondered if she had a concussion. This occurred by an action that the team called a “scorpion,” when the board whips up after a fall and hits the rider’s head.
However, Broussard continued to stay on the boat and participate and seemed unconcerned while she held a rag to her scalp to stop the bleeding.
Highland Village sophomore Cameron Budd wowed the team with his landing of the “tootsie roll,” which is a very difficult trick that involves a front flip with a backside turn of 180 degrees.
Strickland said that he encourages Baylor students to sign up for Baylor Wake. Students can sign up for a tryout when the team is on campus for Late Night or other recruitment events. Students of all skills and abilities can be involved, he said.
“We have people that just learned how to wakeboard and that goes all the way to people who are doing flips and spins at the same time,” he said.
The dues are $200 per semester or $350 for the whole year. The team goes out every weekday from 2 to 7 p.m. if weather permits.
“The team helps you get better and helps you learn,” Strickland said. “Anybody can do it.”