Reece Hawthorne took second place in at the first stop of the Alberta Wake Tour.      He hopes to qualify for the nationals in August.

Reece Hawthorne took second place in at the first stop of the Alberta Wake Tour. He hopes to qualify for the nationals in August.

High-flying act ready for Games

Hawthorne, who just completed Grade 10 at Fulton Secondary, used to be a solid hockey player too

One weekend, Reece Hawthorne is in Alberta for a wakeboard competition. The next, the fun-seeking 15-year-old is at Gonzaga University for a Bulldogs basketball camp in Spokane.

Hawthorne, who just completed Grade 10 at Fulton Secondary, used to be a solid hockey player too, giving up the game a year ago simply due to time management.

There are only 24 hours in a day, but Hawthorne makes the most of every minute.

He rises at 5:30 a.m., untarps the boat and gets things prepped before meeting his dad, Rex, on his Okanagan Lake deck a half hour later for wakeboard practice on a 2016 G23 Super Air Nautique.

“Reece is very dedicated as an athlete, not only in wakeboarding,” said Rex, a local dentist. “We are back in time for me to get to work and him to get ready for school. He looks after drying the boat and retarping it. He’s out rain or shine and has been riding since early April.  He pushes himself, always trying to improve.”

Reece will represent the Okanagan zone in the B.C. Summer Games starting Thursday in Abbotsford, competing on Hatzic Lake in Mission. He will be in the provincials, July 30-31 at Sproat Lake near Port Alberni in between a couple of camps.

The nationals, should he qualify, go Aug. 5-7, in Mission.

The funny and outgoing Hawthorne is one of four athletes on the B.C. U18 development wakeboard team. He hopes to make the main squad soon and earn extra funding.

“I’ve been wakeboarding since I could stand, competitively for two years” said Hawthorne. “I learned mainly from my dad. He taught me the basic fundamentals and he told me how to do some of the tricks, but it’s up to me to execute.”

Rex, 47, says his son is a quick learner and has good air sense, mainly due to years on the trampoline, and firm balance.

“As well, he’s not scared to take it big,” said Rex, who was left a paraplegic after a mountain bike accident in 2005. “A lot of his tricks have big amplitude and are clean. He does struggle with the psychological part of competing and has never had his best rides in comps.”

Reece says his dad recently “re-modified a contraption” so he too can wakeboard hard. The sport runs in the family with grampa Jim Hawthorne and uncle Mark Hawthorne both one-time champions.

“When I first started, I was just balls to the walls,” said Reece, who attended Alexis Park Elementary. “I just keep progessing and go out as frequently as I can with my dad. He has taught me to never give up: anything is possible. He pushes me, making sure I’m up at 5:30 to go on the lake and get glass water if it’s not windy. When it’s calm, we’ll go for a surf.”

Reece hits the gym four or five times a week, often with his mom, Jodi, a teacher, and loves the rush of wakeboarding.

“There is lots of adrenaline. You want to take every trick to the biggest amplitude. You only get two falls so it’s a sport of perfection. I have used trial and error in practices.”

Hawthorne, at 5-foot-8 and 125 pounds, is making strides in the mental aspect of wakeboarding. He still gets pretty nervous in comps,

It takes wakeboarders 30 to 45 seconds to go 75 feet at 23 miles per hour.

“You get four jumps each way and it goes by fast,” said Reece. “You have time to set up to go faster. That’s the key.”

In late May, Hawthorne took second place at the first stop of the Alberta Wake Tour.  Competing on the 14-degree Wizard Lake water, in the Outlaw division, one below pro, he had a solid run, although far from his personal best.

He also competed for his first time in wake-surfing and finished fourth in the intermediate division.  He was named tournament MVP and won an O’Brien wake surf package.

Wakeboarding behind his dad’s powerful boat provides a major thrill.

“I get super excited to hit that wake because you know you’re going to get launched. You have to adjust to the wake which is always different. You can’t control the water.”

Hawthorne also loves volleyball, playing the acrobatic libero position for the senior Maroons last season. He maintains an A average and hangs with good buddies Landon Currie and Ryan Stephane.

Rex and Jodi have always supported Reece in whatever sport he has played. He’s a point guard in basketball.

“I have always been a big proponent of sport,” said Rex. “There are lots of life lessons one can gain from working with others, pushing oneself and setting goals to name a few.”