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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Wakeboard team rides waves of success

Taylor Fredrickson of the Chico State wakeboard club. Photo courtesy of the Chico State wakeboard club.

Being pulled by a multi-ton boat while holding onto nothing but a rope, strapped to a fiberglass board and expected to perform tricks takes a lot of guts.

That’s the life of those on the Chico State wakeboard team.

The team is one of the best in the country each year. That being said, one would think that the team only recruits the top athletes in the country. However, the club welcomes all students, no matter how much experience they have with the sport.

Daniel Rueger, club president, explains the requirements of the team.

“We want to spread the sport and make sure everyone has fun doing it,” Rueger said. “We don’t have qualifications for joining the team, we just want everyone to have a good time making friends and learn how to wakeboard.”

Making friends and chilling out is the name of the game for the Chico State wakeboard ‘Cats. Every semester, the club looks for individuals who want to learn the sport, make friends, hang out and compete.

The Wildcat wakeboard team is ranked fourth in the Empire Wake League, which is nationwide and seeds more than twenty of the top colleges each season. Year in and year out, the team seems to find itself at the top of the rankings before heading to Las Vegas for the national championships every spring.

The club has seen some of its own members go pro. Alumni sisters Raquel and Shawna Hoffman used to be on the Chico State team and are now shredding it up as pro boarders. The two even competed as representatives for the U.S. in the 2009 Wakeboard World Championships in South Korea.

Despite finishing the season ranked eighth in the nation, expectations aren’t extremely high for those who wish to join the team. Even some of the top competitors on the team, like junior Taylor Fredrickson, decided to join mostly for the social aspect.

“I really enjoy the social side of the club,” Fredrickson said. “I met my girlfriend through it and I learned I’m a great teacher. I really enjoy teaching people the sport and getting them stoked about it.”

Although the social side plays a large role, the team also enjoys the competitive side. The club participates in multiple competitions all over the country each year. The team recently returned from the national championships in Las Vegas.

Junior boarder Brandon Mercer views the team as a learning experience.

“The goal of the team is to try your best and see your potential,” Mercer said. “It’s fun to get out there and try to learn something new each day and being able to do some really cool tricks.”

The club doesn’t discriminate and welcomes both genders and all sorts of different majors and backgrounds.

“We’ve had people come out for the team before that have never been wakeboarding before,” Rueger said. “But now some of those people are doing really well with it and have progressed more than anyone ever thought they could.”

Lee Masten can be reached at [email protected] or @lee23masten on Twitter.

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