AUG/SEPT 2018 | In Focus – It Takes A Village
Check out our In Focus – It Takes a Village section from the 2018 August/September issue!
Josh Zentmeyer passing on knowledge so the future stays bright
Words & Photo: Jeff Mathis
I’m sitting in a fold-out chair in the Florida heat, camera in one hand, beer in the other, watching the wakeskaters at this year’s Suwannee Bro 2 endlessly hustle the rope back and forth from winch to rider. The smiles on their faces and the raucous cheers when someone lands a hammer are impossible to ignore, and it really gets me thinking … no matter how much we like the idea that wakeboarding or wakeskating is “just you and the water,” it takes a community of like-minded individuals to not only make it happen, but to keep pushing it in the right direction. The friendships forged through this so-called sport are as strong as friendships come, and fueled by a comradery that’s hard to put into words. It’s definitely one of those “if you know, you know” type of feelings.
Wakeboarding is such a tight-knit community, and I love it for that. Whether you’re going to a PWT stop, an event at a cable park, or a weekend bro-fest at someone’s property, it’s easy to show up and have a good time. Thinking back, my first taste of the wake community was going to grassroots events put on by the local shops around my home lake of Lake Martin, Alabama, when I was about 14 years old. At first, the feeling of showing up to these contests was more than intimidating, because I had been living in my own little bubble of just riding with my dad, Alex Graydon, and his dad. But after a couple events, the faces started to get more familiar and my attitude went from nervous to stoked whenever we would pull up to the contest site. Not to mention, the demo days the day before or after the contest where people would come in, ride, and share the stoke, were always a good time and before I knew it, I was outside of my bubble and had new riding buddies not only from my home lake but plenty of different spots around the Southeast. Once I got my driver’s license, I was all over the place traveling to new spots and riding with new friends, people that I’m lucky enough to still call friends to this day.
Another place that you can show up and feel right at home are the cable parks that are popping up all over the country. These places are designed to be havens for riders to come and shred all day without a care in the world. One park that always comes to my mind in terms of community is the Valdosta Wake Compound in Valdosta, GA. There’s a certain feeling of free-spiritedness that resonates from there that I have never felt at any other spot. With events like The Wakeskate Tour, Wake Up Fest, and the YardSale (I & II) that have gone down there, that feeling cannot be denied. The vibes were unlike any other contest I’ve ever been to, with everyone camping out on site, cooking out, and partying until the wee hours of the morning without a worry about the contest coming the next day. And I think when the atmosphere is that laid back, that’s when the most progressive riding goes down. If you were there to witness any of them, or have seen the recap videos, you know what I’m talking about.
Which brings me back to Nick Taylor’s little slice of paradise down on the Suwannee River … sitting there watching that handle get passed off time and time again summed up the best thing about this sport: the people! And this issue is jam-packed full of them. It brings us all together with guys like Daniel Jarrett establishing a new wake destination (West Rock Wake Park) just outside of Chicago, in Rockford, Illinois, the Supra team getting some team bonding in while shredding with gators up the St. Johns River, and the Woodstock-esque vibes of the Suwannee Bro 2. In short, it’s all about the wake community and the awesome people that make it up, so thank you for being a part of it! Now go ride!