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Why I Ride Essay, written by NH wakeboarder Ashley LaBounty

Over the past few months and going into the future, I will be releasing short video clips featuring local New England Wakeboarders explaining why they wakeboard.  Unfortunately, I can't interview many more people which is too bad because I am sure there are many more people who want to share their motivation to wakeboard.  Luckily for me, one local rider was inspired by these riders and decided to write her own wakeboarding memoir about how much wakeboarding has meant to her over the past few years:  Check out NH rider Ashley LaBounty's essay "Good Things Come to Those Who Wake."


Good Things Come to Those Who Wake:

It was this past summer when Tyson tossed me out like last weeks left- overs. We started out the summer by opening the board shop. It was not really yet a board shop, but it was a start. It was a corner of his parent’s campground store on the lake. It wasn’t the space that mattered though; what mattered was Tyson was now an authorized Hyperlite and HO sports dealer, selling wakeboards, water skis, kneeboards, tubes, life vests, and all the accessory gear to go with that stuff.
I spent hours with him doing inventory, making sure everything he ordered he got. We spent days building the board racks for the shop and then hanging up all of the merchandise. I made fliers to advertise the board shop and went around all the surrounding towns hanging them up. It was after I did all that hard work that Tyson decided the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.
He treated me like crap, which is why I hate to say it, meeting Tyson was probably one to the best things that happened to me; this is because without meeting him, I would still probably be nowhere in the sport of wakeboarding. I would still be begging my dad to take me out on the weekends, getting frustrated trying to ride behind his stupid Glastron, still believing he was a great boat driver, when in reality he sucks. He’s just like every other recreational boat driver who thinks he knows what he’s doing, but he really doesn’t.
Prior to meeting Tyson, I was wakeboarding behind my dad’s boat, a simple twenty-one foot inboard/outboard Glastron. The boat does not throw a monster wake, and there is certainly no tower or pylon to lift the rope up high above the water. I tried progressing in the sport on my own; I got nowhere. I tried hard each time to jump over that wake higher and further each time. It seemed like no matter what I did, I was getting the same results, even after shortening the tow line as much as possible by taking all the removable rope links out. It was getting frustrating wakeboarding by myself all the time, with no one to mentor me or help me move forward in the sport. I had been searching for other wakeboarders in the area for three solid years before I met Tyson. Small town Swanzey, New Hampshire is not Orlando, Florida.
I never really got to know my cousin Mike well, until he was at my house every day for a few weeks remodeling my parent’s bathroom. He’s not an immediate cousin. In the time he was at my house in the bathroom, he found out that I had a strong passion for wakeboarding, and it just so happened that so did his best friend Tyson. It wasn’t long before Mike invited me to meet Tyson and wakeboard with them for the first time.
He had a dock slip on Swanzey Lake where his parents lived. Tyson had been wakeboarding with his two brothers for years, and it showed. I remember watching him ride for the first time; I was amazed. He was jumping out of the wake, jumping wake to wake, which means he could jump over the entire wake of the boat, he was doing air 180s, and tantrums. A tantrum is a backflip that you do off of the heel side edge of the board. After watching him ride, I spent the remainder of the boat ride looking at him, watching him, trying to decide if he was someone I wanted to date or not.
He was tall, six feet, dark hair, and muscular. A shy man, that first day out with him he barely said anything. We introduced ourselves and talked a little about wakeboarding, but for the most part, Mike and I did most of the talking. Tyson was impressed with my drive, my want to advance my skills so much and my thirst for the knowledge in the sport. He too, living in Swanzey had been dealing with that struggle of finding people to wakeboard with; so meeting someone who wanted to wakeboard as much as he did was as much as a surprise as it was for me. 
I guess falling in love just happens when you spend so much time with a person doing something you love. After that first night of wakeboarding, there were many nights to follow. We spent the whole summer together, wakeboarding several days a week. Every weeknight we were free, we would go out wakeboarding. On the weekends, we would just hang out on the boat, tanning and swimming, waiting to have the lake to ourselves so the water would be calm enough to ride. This was the start of our new relationship.
I also never expected to fall in love with a man that was twelve years older than me while I was just seventeen year old in high school. As you can imagine, there was a lot of lying and sneaking around the first six months of our relationship; what parent in their right mind would let their seventeen year old date a man who was twenty-nine. My parents were fine with us wakeboarding together, but anything else, they weren’t too fond of. The lies came in here. I would tell my mom I was anywhere but with Tyson, or even just a little white lie that we were still wakeboarding, even though we stopped an hour early and had gone out to eat.
After about four months of sneaking around trying to be with Tyson every chance I got, my mom finally gave up on keeping me from dating Tyson. Allowing me to date Tyson was such a great unexpected Christmas present. She then talked my dad into letting his daughter date a much older man. He was not a bad influence. It was only an age difference. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, and he didn’t party. Tyson was a hard worker. All he did was work, wakeboard, and hangout with Mike and me; being as shy as he is, he didn’t hang out with many people.
We dated for a little over three years. We both accomplished a lot in the sport of wakeboarding in those three years. We wakeboarded and worked on improving our skills at our home lake every summer. The year 2013 was big for us. We accomplished the most that year. We started off the year by planning a trip to Florida in January, to relax together and get some riding in. We got a jet ski once we arrived. We wakeboarded behind the jet ski, but the wake was too small to really do any major tricks.
Riding at a cable park in Florida for the first time was surreal and exciting. It is a whole different experience compared to getting towed behind a boat. A cable park is a man-made body of water where there are winches or mechanical cables attached to towers around the water, pulling the rider around the water, without the use of a boat. Florida is home to many cable parks, many pro riders, and many competitions, which is why Orlando is the wakeboard capitol of the world. We went to a cable park in Orlando called Orlando Watersports Complex, also known as OWC and Odub. The cable jerks you around every bend that the cable makes in the track. You have to pay attention to the cable and where you are with your board so you don’t catch an edge and fall around a corner. This experience was unforgettable, riding there, and knowing that it was the same place that many professionals used to get in practice and where they compete.
There was one more place to stop before leaving Florida. We stopped at the Nautique boat factory. We toured the factory and watched the process of them making several boats. Nautique boats are a very good quality, well-known brand of boats. We continued to look at the boats when we got home. We went to two different boat shows shortly after we got back home from Florida.  Boat shows are where all different marinas go to show people what kinds of boats and gear they are offering for the upcoming year.
It was at a boat show where we met Travis Keaney. Travis works at Candlewood East Marina, selling Nautique boats. He also is a wakeboarder sponsored by Hyperlite Wakeboards and owns a wakeboard school called Shred Candlewood. Tyson had many questions and inquired of Travis what it is like to work for Hyperlite and if it was possible for him to open up a board shop selling the gear. We hit it off with him, and he invited us down to the next boat show he’d be at in Boston. It was at the Boston Boat Show where Travis introduced us to Thad Nurmi, the Northeast sales manager and representative for Hyperlite Wakeboards, HO sports, and Byerly Wakeboards.
July finally came around and we saw Travis and Thad again. We went down to Candlewood Lake to participate in the Hyperlite Experience tour. We signed up for the tour stop at Candlewood Lake so we could not only get to hang out with Thad, but also to visit Travis. We got to demo new Hyperlite gear and ride behind a really nice Nautique G23 boat. During the tour we met and rode with yet another pro rider, Trever Muar. It was so exhilarating meeting all of these professionals in the wakeboard world. This was like a patriots fan going down to spend a day at Gillette Stadium practicing with Tom Brady and the gorgeous Julian Edelman with Bill Belichick. Having the experience of hanging out for the day with members of the Hyperlite team was unbelievable. Tyson and Thad chatted more about becoming a dealer during the tour. They exchanged contact info at the end so he could send him all the paperwork to fill out to become a dealer. The rest of that summer was spent planning and coming up with a game plan for the board shop.
Being winter, it was again boat show season, this time one to remember. The Shaun Murray was at the boat show with Thad this year. Shaun Murray is a legend. He’s a four time World champion wakeboarder, sponsored and a part of the Hyperlite wake team, Nautique, and the Fox wake team. Shaun Murray is kind of how important Tom Brady is to the Patriots, but way more valuable and important. Murray has been wakeboarding professionally since 1995, and has been a big part of evolving the sport into what it is today.
One thing I love about this sport is that all the professionals are down to earth, and friendly. They all compete against each other, but they are all best friends at the same time. I didn’t even have to go up to Shaun; he came right over to me and started talking. Tyson and I both were sitting down with the legend, Shaun Murray. After talking with Shaun, we got pictures with him, and I got to hug him as well. We caught up with Thad about what he had been doing for the year, and about Hyperlite and what the team had been up to. It was shortly after the excitement of the boat show that Tyson submitted his paperwork and order to earn his spot on the Hyperlite team of being a dealer.
Our relationship had been rocky that year. So when the new girl started working the campground store, it didn’t help things. Shortly after the board shop was all put together and most of my hard work was done, that was when Tyson put me aside, and ended things to pursue the new girl. I was furious. After all that help and hard work I devoted to him, for him to just tell me he wants all my stuff gone and out of the house and that he wants nothing to do with him. So I moved out. I packed up all of my stuff and left to show up at my mom’s house with opened arms.
  After a little more than three years, all of the great people we met, and things we did together, we barely speak. I found other people to wakeboard with. I don’t just wakeboard out of the love for the sport anymore; I wakeboard out of spite. I wakeboard to prove to Tyson how much I can progress in the sport without him.
I met Thomas Anderson before the breakup. He talked to me that winter about working for him this past summer but I stupidly turned him down to help Tyson with the board shop. Thomas is a fun, energetic, and a smart business man. Thomas is full of wisdom and had been a great friend that rocky year, not only to me but to Tyson as well. He offered to help Tyson plan a way to start lessons at his board shop.  Being as far away from us as Wolfeboro, NH we didn’t see much of each other but Thomas and I kept in touch often. When I told him that Tyson and I had ended things, and that I was no longer working for him, Thomas jumped at the opportunity. Right then and there he invited me up to Lake Winnipesaukee to help out with lessons at his school. His school was called Lake Life Lessons, teaching wakeboarding, waterskiing, kneeboarding, and tubing as well.
Sometimes it may seem like things are falling apart when in actuality they are falling into place. Thomas noticed my vast knowledge about not only the sport of wakeboarding, but my knowledge of boards from working in Tyson’s shop; so Thomas introduced me to the owner of a board shop on Winnipesaukee. Right now, we are working on a plan to have me move to the lake this summer to work as a coach at the school, as well as at the board shop. At Lake Life Lessons, I wasn’t just learning and teaching wakeboard lessons, I was learning life lessons.
It’s ironic, me living out Tysons dream of working at a wakeboard school and selling wakeboards. That’s not the best part though; I’ve met so man new people that wakeboard and I’m wakeboarding better than ever. The past few weeks, I have really improved on my skill level. I learned three new tricks. Tyson was shocked when the local guys I ride with told him that. I wonder if he regrets his decision on breaking up, but it’s  too late now. I’m moving on and it’s working out great for me. I’m making a name for myself in this adrenaline rushing sport.