As a parent of young children, I find myself repeating a constant stream of “did you hear me?” , “are you listening?”, “just do as I say” and the always popular “because I said so!”. These consistent calls for listening and obedience are just part of the job, even if they’re often frustrating for both parent and kid alike. But, as I’m sure any toddler parent will tell you, when that rare moment occurs, and my 4-year-old not only hears me but chooses to obey me the first time around—the resulting synergy is the stuff of miracles.
Go For It: Wake Up
A miracle is exactly what I felt I was going to need on the morning of my adventure in South Carolina’s Olde English District. While in name, this region is known for its incredible Revolutionary War history, what many may not realize is how popular it is for sports. Rock Hill alone is home to the Giordana Velodrome and BMX Supercross Track, while also hosting the United States Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University each year. My sporting experience this day however, was one of the water variety. I was going to attempt to go wakeboarding for the first time at SouthTown Wake Park. Hence the need for a miracle.
So, what’s a wake park, you ask? A wakeboarder’s playground. A cable system is used to pull riders around the lake in place of a boat. Beginners and kneeboarders can stick to the flat water, while more advanced wakeboarders can attempt jumps and tricks over features as they round the course each time. SouthTown hosts camps throughout the summer, but you can visit just to ride on your own, use the training cable for a lesson or even have a birthday party or event.
When I arrived, there were campers on the main cable and the training cable, and these kids were having the time of their lives. Watching them was intimidating because I knew it would be that much more embarrassing if I simply wiped out all day, which—if I’m being honest—was fully what I expected to happen.
After meeting with my “coach” for the day, Kyle, I geared up with my life jacket and helmet, grabbed my rental wakeboard and nervously made my way to the training cable. The training cable is in a separate lake from the main cable with all of the features. It’s basically a private lesson area where beginners can get used to the cable and practice getting up before graduating to the main cable. Kyle told me it’s also a great option for people who want to go out on the lake and wakeboard behind a boat with family or friends but want to practice beforehand so they have a better idea of what they’re doing, which I thought was genius.
Remember when I talked about the miracles that can happen when my 4-year-old listens and obeys me the first time? The same proved to be true for me when it came to wakeboarding. Because I was so scared, I listened to every word that Kyle said to me and repeated them to myself like a mantra. Keep my legs bent? Done. Keep my arms straight? Yep. Turn the direction that feels natural to me? None of this is natural to me, but absolutely!
And can you believe?! I got up on my first try! I wiped out three seconds later—but it felt like victory. Each time after, I got up and went a little bit further. Kyle talked me through making turns and how to shift my weight to weave across the water, all while gradually increasing the speed of the cable to prep me for the main lake. He was so encouraging even though all I was doing was listening to his instructions and following through on the water. I felt like a total rock star!
Much quicker than anyone anticipated, I was cleared to graduate to the main cable. Even though I was doing really well, and I was having so much fun, the main lake was still really daunting. For starters, you launch from a dock, with assistance from the coach. And Kyle told me multiple times that it would probably take me a few tries to get up this time. And once I got up, I had to maneuver my way through buoys as I circled the lake, all while avoiding the ramp features which I was most definitely not ready for.
I surprised everyone by getting up off the dock my first try once again, but only made it to the set of buoys that marked the first turn before I went down. Hard. In fact, I would go on to wipe out spectacularly three more more times before I finally succeeded in rounding the entire lake. Side note here, Kyle told me at the beginning that wakeboarding would be the best workout of my life and he wasn’t wrong. But, all those aches and pains were quickly forgotten when I achieved my goal to make it all around the lake and could honorably tap out.
As I reflected on my experience at SouthTown, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was so pleased with what I had achieved, the soreness in my muscles was a small price to pay. I spent the next few days telling everyone how much fun I’d had and how I couldn’t wait to get back out on the lake. What I thought was going to be a disaster turned out to be a triumph, and all I had to do was: Listen. Obey. And Go For It.