My first time wakeboarding

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

A woman pictured wakeboarding putting up a 'hang loose' sign to the camera.
Celebrating the little victories can make the journey much more enjoyable. Photo: Ron Lach / Pexels

By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer

When I was 16 years old, I started wakeboarding at a church summer camp. At first, I was too shy to join my friends, but with persistence, they convinced me to give it a shot. It took me a while to learn, but any sign of growth, whether big or small, pushed me to keep going.

Everyday, the parent volunteers started the wakeboarding sessions at 7:00 a.m. Since it was my first time, I decided to start by watching my friends. Everyone else on the boat was very experienced, so I felt intimidated to practice in front of them.

Once I was ready to begin, the boat’s owner, Vincent, showed me how to strap my feet to the wakeboard. Then, I gave my friend my glasses and jumped into the water. On top of trying a new sport, I had to guess the direction and speed of the waves.

Vincent instructed me to lay down on my back and bring my knees to my chest. Once I grabbed hold of the rope, he revved the engine. The boat drove forward faster than I anticipated, causing me to fall face first into the water. After seeing my friends glide on the water gracefully, I wondered if I would be able to stand up at all.

The second time around, Vincent instructed me to hold onto the rope tighter. My friends cheered me on. They encouraged me to be patient and keep going. This time I was able to hold onto the rope, but I wasn’t able to stand up. As soon as the boat moved, I collided with the water again.

Wakeboarding was challenging because it was nothing like the other watersports I’ve tried — kayaking, swimming, and tubing. A tight grip and good balance weren’t enough. I needed to match my movements to the speed of the waves, but since it was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I tried twice more until my time was up.

Since I couldn’t stand up the first few rounds, Vincent was kind enough to give me another chance, but the result was the same every time. Not to mention, the rope got tangled in the propeller, stalling the boat and prematurely ending my second attempt. 

Later that week, I had the chance to wakeboard again. For the first half, I still couldn’t figure out how to stand up. One of my peers, Jeremy, gave me a few pointers on how to steer myself. To my surprise, something clicked and I stood up! Feeling the adrenaline rush, I screamed so loud in disbelief, proud to have achieved my goal. I didn’t stand for long since steering was new to me, but I took the time to soak every last second of it. Finishing my turn, I enthusiastically hi-fived everyone on the boat.

Even though I started wakeboarding years ago, I still remember the relief of accomplishing what I set out to do. Despite it taking longer than I wanted, and only being able to stand for a few seconds, what’s important is that I followed through on the goal I set for myself. Sometimes half the fun is getting there.