Since before he could walk, Brandon Spivia has loved being on the water.
“When he was a baby, we have pictures of him in his little carry basket on a boat,” said Spivia’s father, Greg. “So he grew up on a boat.”
That love paid off last weekend when the 13-year-old placed seventh in his age category at a national wakeboarding competition.
Spivia, seventh-grader at Little Mill Middle School in north Forsyth, first tried his hand at the water sport, which is kind of a cross between water skiing and snowboarding, about three years ago.
His father said the boy was “just a natural” at the sport.
“We live on [Lake Lanier] and his friends started wakeboarding, so he got involved with it and he’s done really well with it,” the elder Spivia said.
“The very first time he tried it, he just stood right up on the board and that’s pretty rare. So he’s always just had a natural ability at it.”
Not long after he began wakeboarding, the family learned about the INT League, which according to its website, is known as the “little league of watersports.”
The organization, which began in Washington state in the early 1990s with just four events, today has 27 states holding more than 250 events per year. They all lead up to the national championship in early fall, where the best young competitors in water sports get to show off their skills.
Not long after Brandon Spivia picked up the hobby, he began taking part in Georgia INT League events, which his father said have been fun for the whole family.
“They have events all through the summer at different locations all over the state, so we load up the family and chairs and tents and we all go,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of new friends doing it. It’s a great organization and a great group of people.”
This summer Brandon Spivia ended up placing second in Georgia in his age division, which qualified him to compete at the INT League’s national championship Oct. 10-12 in Bakersfield, Calif.
“Placing second in the state was a very proud moment for him,” his dad said.
During the national event, he competed against about 15 other wakeboarders, all age 13 and younger.
While he didn’t make it to the final round of competition, which was reserved for the top three finishers in each division, his dad said the family was happy with his seventh-place finish.
“He was right in the middle of the pack and that was great because these kids are the best in the country,” he said. “I mean these kids are phenomenal.”
Through the INT League, youngsters are evaluated on their individual style, as well as the success and complexity of tricks they perform.
“Each trick has a value on it,” Greg Spivia said. “For example, if they do a 180-grab, that’s worth 200 points. They have a whole list of tricks so they just grade them by their style and what tricks they do.”
The young Spivia said during the summer months, he’s always working to perfect his moves.
“I want to go bigger and bigger with it,” he said, noting he was impressed with many of the competitors he met at the national event.
“I met one guy that was 8 years old from North Carolina who was in the pro division and he got second,” Brandon Spivia said. “He competed as a professional, so that was pretty amazing.”
His father said some of the more advanced competitors at the national event perform tricks that just may put their parents in an early grave.
“When you get into the kids who are like 18 to 21, they were doing tricks that were amazing — flips and spins and rolls,” he said. “But … when [Brandon] starts doing that stuff, I’m going to have a heart attack.”
He probably better start taking care of his heart, since his son doesn’t have any plans to give up wakeboarding.
“I really hope to get to go back to the nationals again next year,” he said.