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FGCU Wakeboard Club fights for rights to campus boats

Two of the most important things in wakeboarding are the water and the boat; however, the FGCU Wakeboard Club seems to lack both. With no permission from the North Lake waterfront, the team continues to fight for its rights.
“There is a formally signed agreement between FGCU and Miromar Lakes,” said Tom Mayo, the director of Facilities Planning. “There are restrictions on the activities that go on because Miromar owns the lake. FGCU property is at the shoreline.”
Having to travel to places such as the Revolution Cable Park in North Fort Myers can get pretty old, but members of the club are willing to make the 30-minute drive just to practice their passion. The team continues to fight and won’t budge.
Austin Roberts, the club’s president, said the FGCU Wakeboard Club’s lack of privileges concerns him.
“We don’t practice as a team because it’s difficult to get the entire team together to go even to the cable park or the boat because the boat is time slotted,” Roberts said. “We’ve never really had any boat rights just because it’s kind of a thing of, ‘If we can do it, why can’t other clubs have those privileges? Even though we are the wakeboard club, we shouldn’t have special privileges.’”

Dustin Robert focuses while going across the flat bar during a session at McCormick’s Cable Park, as teammate, Matt Busscher snaps a shot with his GoPro. (Photo Special to Eagle News)
Dustin Robert focuses while going across the flat bar during a session at McCormick’s Cable Park, as teammate, Matt Busscher snaps a shot with his GoPro. (Photo Special to Eagle News)

The club is doing whatever it takes to fight for its rights to time slots on the boat. With permission from the waterfront and eventually the executive level, the team is working on a proposal that could ultimately determine if it will ever gain boat rights.
To get these restrictions — such as, the size of the boat and the maximum times of operations — lifted, the club must go through the university president and vice president to implement its proposal request, Mayo said.
Yet, this proposal is a complicated process; the club has to present its thoughts as to why it deserves boat time and what its money would go toward to help any boat expenses. However, Roberts struggles to find time to complete it and get the entire team’s approval.
“We’re working on the proposal now,” Roberts said. “It’s just a matter of finding extra time, but I kind of want to get it all situated for the new officers coming in next year. I’m going to stop being an officer because my time isn’t lining up as well, which means I can’t be as involved as I want to be.”
Worries over the boat’s recent maintenance issues and gas costs are the major reasons why the club is unable to use the boat, according to Roberts. Nonetheless, the club has found a solution to this ongoing problem.
The proposal would explain why the club needs boat time slots, which Roberts said could be for as little as two hours once a week so it will not cost that much to the university.
“We’d also say how we would raise money to go towards the boat for gas and any maintenance issues they’ve been recently having,” Roberts said.
Even with the lack of boat rights and team practices, the club seems to always perform at a high level and be nationally noticed. In the past, when alumna Rachel Robinson was the president, during her freshman year, she was able to drive the boat in the morning, and the club could do a lot during the morning sessions as a team.
“That year, they were really good too,” Roberts said. “They got second in nationals, and that kind of shows a track record of if you practice regularly, you’ll do well. And, during that time, we were getting a lot of coverage from around the world.”
With March 26 right around the corner, the USA Wakeboard Southeast Regionals at Lake Wauburg at the University of Florida is soon to come. However, the team continues to train, so it can perform at the level it has always been known for.
The team hopes that the proposal will be approved by the end of the semester.

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