It was only the first season of Empire Wake’s Collegiate Wake Series and so many clubs showed us why we chose to be involved in the scene in the first place. To us, collegiate wakeboarding is one of the most important and least touched levels in the sport. To us it is the future of wakeboarding.

Of the many clubs that rode with the CWS, one stood out enough to get our attention. It wasn’t one of the big players of the past years, but a newer club that wasn’t expected to win this award.

We looked at it from many angles to decide why these riders and their organization should be considered club of the year. It had to do with where they came from, the effort that was put into riding events, making a name for themselves in the industry, and it came from their positive attitude that just made them enjoyable to be around all the time.

This club is Virginia Tech!

In 2008 the Virginia Tech wakeboard team became official. It was converted after the ski team couldn’t produce any more skiers and the club was left with 20 wakeboarders. Josh Settlage became the president and is still holding that position through 2010.

The club took on a new shape and found ways to recruit new riders to come to college. It also took a major jump when Southern Ski Boats and Epic Wakeboard Boats joined forces to sponsor the Virginia Tech Wake Team. Now powered with a 2009 Epic 23V, the club has more to offer its current members and future members.

Their new boat has allowed the club to host open riding days where people who aren’t in the club can join the team on select weekends and ride. Not only does this help bring new members to the club, but also works as a fundraiser for the team to cover the cost.

Virginia Tech brings the boat to all the events equipped with their custom made club logo on the side for all to see. One of the reasons we are giving Virginia Tech this award is their efforts bringing the boat all the way to the Atlanta Tour stop and having it in the water ready to go when our event tow boat needed repair. Before Empire Wake could even turn its head to ask, Settlage and his crew were on the dock ready to pull!

The club has put a great deal of effort into clever fundraising ideas and expanding their name as well. Nick Schrein has been editing and producing club videos such as “Gnarcolepsy” and “Gauntlet.”  Both these videos are raising donations for the team.

The club has towed their boat around campus and handed out icy pops to students. They also let fraternities rent the boat and a driver for recruiting functions.  All of these opportunities together along with social mixers with other campus clubs, make them one of the best known around campus.

Virginia Tech was the only club to attend 2 Collegiate Wake Series events in 2009. They traveled over 10 hours to each event and had a great attitude even though the weather at both was about as bad as it could get. Every member made the best at each contest and went home smiling.

“We love the CWS events because it allows all of our riders to compete. In the past, and at other events, only 5 to 7 riders were allowed to compete. This left out the majority of the club members,” says Settlage.” This is a much better format and allows us to involve more members.”

The team currently sits 9th and will be battling it against the University of Texas first round of the CWS National Championships in Austin Texas April 15th. Sophmore Joel Wagner, the team’s top rider, will be a major impact on Virginia Tech advancing to the next round. He is consistent with Dum Dums, KGB’s, Switch Whirly’s, and an array of spins.

The recruiting has paid off as well. In fall of 2010 Kyle Barmoy and Patrick Wynne will be adding even more firepower to this already solid club.

This team really has it all together, and are showing more and more growth. They are passionate about college wakeboarding and want to contribute to the cause of making the Collegiate Wake Series bigger and better as well.

These guys work hard in all areas and it has shown.  We are excited to give this award to the Virginia Tech club and are waiving their $500 entry fee for the CWS National Championships as a reward!

Big congratulations to Virginia Tech and good luck with your program!