By Tony Stracke of Tilly’s Marine
So often, we forget that it’s a privilege to do the great things we love, like wakeboarding and hanging out on a beautiful lake with our family and friends. A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting a young man named Keith McAlevey. He was pumped on wakeboarding and wanted to ride all the time. I took him out on my weighted-down Malibu WAKESETTER and he was boosting on every trick. Other people on the lake were giving us the thumbs up and said they enjoyed watching us ride. Keith was just doing what he liked to do and was super humble about it all.
Fast forward a few years and Keith is still wakeboarding and riding like a champ. After graduating high school, he made the admirable decision to join the US Army. After graduating boot camp, I got a text from Keith, “Hey man, I’ll be home for a couple weeks. Can we go wakeboarding??? Because after that, the only wakeboarding I’ll be doing is in the sand!” The reality of the situation hit me pretty hard.
Awesomely enough, we had the Tilly’s Marine 2012 CampOut scheduled for the week he was in town. Keith came out to the lake with his girlfriend Zulie and hung out and rode behind Tilly’s Axis A22 until his arms were going to fall off.
After Keith was stationed overseas, he posted a picture of him with a TV, a magazine, and what looked like an automatic assault rifle. He was on guard duty. His job was to sit in a metal shed in 110-degree heat and guard ammunition. I’m sure it was tough for him to know everyone was at home having fun, but what he was doing allows us to do the things we do.
The choice that Keith has made is huge and it was for OUR benefit to live in this country enjoying our freedom. The next time you are out on the boat and get mad at someone or get bummed that its windy or you can’t land a trick, think about Keith sitting in a metal shed looking at pictures of wakeboarding and counting the days till he can get back on his board.
Keith is currently in Fort Knox and is getting ready for his month in the field — 30 days with no showers or amenities. When he has time off, he tries to get out to Wake Nation to ride the cable. It’s a trek for him, so he usually spends the weekend there and sleeps in his truck. He is already trying to set up times to ride when he comes home in December for a few days. It’s getting cold out there already so I’m sure his stories will be gnarly when he comes home in December.
Thank you very much Keith McAlevey and everyone else that has, or is currently serving this great country. Here are some photos that were taken at our local lake, Lake Piru here in Southern California, when Keith came out for a recent visit. Plus some inspirational quotes from the man himself!
“I like to ride because I’ve grown up with it my whole life and I love the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made through wakeboarding. But also it’s a chance for me to show people what I’ve been able to teach myself and learn from other riders.”
“My personality comes out alot when I wakeboard. I like to go big but also put style in my riding. A lot of people have all the tricks but it looks robotic. I like when a simple trick looks dope. It’s not about the craziest trick you have. It’s about the style you put into your riding. That’s what sets riders apart. Being able to know your board. Know the wake. Know the water and how it’s all going to respond is key.”
“Now I’m in a place where we all look the same. We all have the same haircut. Same uniform. Eat at the same place. Wakeboarding is a huge chance for me to put that all to the side and show my originality and style. I tend to look up to the pros that have so much steeze and make every trick look so good and different from everyone else’s. That’s how I like to ride. I like my tricks to have steeze and style.”
“Wakeboarding has made my life so great. Whether it’s learning new tricks behind a boat, riding a glassy wake surf wave, learning new rails at the cable park or going out with friends to clear 17-foot waterfall gaps. My mind always wants to keep going for the next thing in wakeboarding.”
“Even here in the Army. I write down new tricks, jot down new rails or Google new winch spots for when I come home. It’s truly the greatest sport and gives me endless amounts of happiness.”
Malibu Boats, LLC has a company-wide initiative to support all aspects of the US Military. Check out what Axis Wake Research is doing with their RECON edition. This package is available on the A20 or A22 and a portion of the proceeds goes to Jared Allen’s Homes 4 Wounded Warriors.