No Filter – Tom Fooshee
Alliance Wake: You’ve made a pretty awesome career by sticking to your guns and pushing the cable scene. Do you think cable is getting the respect it deserves?
Tom Fooshee: Absolutely! Cable was wakeboarding’s red-headed stepchild when I started riding it back in ’03/’04 and now it is something of the norm when you see/think of wakeboarding. Nowadays there are just as many professional park riders as their are in boat, and I would say the same goes as for first timers and amateurs also. There is a great amount of “high risk/high reward” in tricks and that can be done on the cable, so I believe that speaks for itself.
AW: Has the juice been worth the squeeze for you?
TF: I would say that I squeezed an orange and now I’ve got a screwdriver (laughs). I put in a lot of work, and I got more out of it than I expected and it also came with a punch. It has been above and beyond worth it. It might have been a bit of a fight, but it was a dream, and a dream come true. I have the utmost respect for what so many different riders are doing in park these days and the events that are held around the world. It is what I envisioned way back when, plus much more.
AW: Is cable growing the way you envisioned?
TF: Cable as a whole is growing the way I envisioned, but the riding is growing far past what I thought or expected it could. I projected seeing the number of full size and system 2.0 cables in the United States being as high as it is now, but the riding is what has really surprised me the most. I am so fascinated with what riders are performing in the park on the reg right now. Every time a Coalition vid hits the web, it drops my jaw. That crew right now is bleeding creativity. Kevin Henshaw’s Area 52 is something I only dreamed of and he has made it so perfect. Watching him ride there will also blow your mind. Then there is a massive international crowd that is taking park to the next level without any of us knowing. And of course all the board brands are making tons of park specific boards. Just look at Liquid Force, half of their line is either a park specific board or is a crossover board that can be used for both wake and cable.
AW: How does Spy and Monster pulling out of wakeboarding affect an established veteran pro like yourself?
TF: You know it’s always a bummer to have brands such as these that have been backing wake for so long pull out. It hurt me pretty bad both with branding myself and my pocketbook, but companies come and go from every industry all the time. It can be hard to find new sponsors if your name/image has been affiliated with a brand for a long time. But ultimately some brands’ decisions to pull out, especially now with the park scene growing and other awesome things happening, it’s just more opportunity for other brands to step in or smaller brands to grow their presence and image. I’m stoked to start working with Hoven, they definitely have their ducks in a row and can build and conquer where others went out.
AW: How do you see that impacting the industry as a whole?
TF: Again, for me personally, this is tough because this means there won’t be a Wake Park Triple Crown this year. But we can’t just look at situations like this and think that the sport is dying, because it isn’t. In all the traveling and clinics and demos and contests I’ve done, it’s far from it. This is a time where other companies can, should, and hopefully will step in and pick up where others left off. We had huge things like the Throwdown and Real Wake go down as part of X Games last year and this year things like Wake the Line and Wake of Steel are back, which is awesome for the sport. I also heard the Wakeskate Tour is back, which is awesome – those guys do an amazing job with their events and keeping fans stoked. And I know you guys at Alliance are working at a one-off event in place of WPTC that will be awesome. Hopefully some other sponsors catch on and something positive comes continue to come for 2016.
AW: In your opinion is the feasibility of being a professional wakeboarder dying or just changing?
TF: It’s not dying, but I think it is much harder to become a professional wakeboarder for many of reasons; both on the positive side and the negative side of things. Firstly, I think it is much tougher now because there are so many more riders that are killing it these days. It’s not the same group of 20 to 30 riders that we had in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Now there are so many established riders crushing it along with super hungry up and comers that are pushing the game. You also have more categories that riders fit into now. Back then it was just contest riders and free riders. But now you have those categories in both boat and park, then add in winching and more. On the negative side of things, there are not nearly as many non wake specific product companies supporting wake. I feel that is where we need to grow to help the industry as a whole. I guess what I am saying here is that it’s not that it is less feasible, it’s just much harder due to progression and how much larger the sport is becoming.
AW: In what ways do you think wakeboarding needs to push the most to continue growing and reaching more people?
TF: In order for wake to grow we need to get people the opportunity to go out on the boat or out to the park and try it. The overall experience of being on a boat riding with your family and friends is unmatchable. That’s why we all started, so we need to get more of that happening to people that haven’t experienced that yet. Same goes with the cable park. Whatever events we can do to help get people out there to try it for the first time or for their fifth time and realize how fun this sport is to do. That’s what’s so awesome of the LF Free For All events. Those have been and continue to be a major component to growing the sport. Those events get me stoked for wake’s future. In 2015 we even added a boat Free For All that was just as amazing as the park ones. I mean sun, water, boats, boards, cables, babes and beverages, we all know that combining those equals fun!
AW: What has you stoked about wakeboarding right now?
TF: Riding with so many different riders right now. Unfortunately the old Texas crew has moved on past their wake careers now, so it has forced me to branch out and ride with other peeps. I am traveling most of the year so when I travel I get to ride with different all sorts of different crews, which is cool. When I am in Florida I have been riding with Henshaw at his compound with Hampson and sometimes Bob, then I go to international events and ride with Yun Sanghyun (Russell) and one of my best buds Josh Wright. Daniel Grant and I always ride together when we meet up. When I am home I ride with all the grommets like Tyler Sommer and the TSR cable rats. So really being able to ride with nothing but fresh styles and faces keeps me stoked, plus they are all younger then me so you know they are pushing me too. That makes me want to keep charging, keep squeezing that orange a bit more (laughs).