WW: So, let's knock out the intro. Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Jared Couch, I'm twenty years of age and I'm from the small town of Templeton on the Central Coast of California. However, most people just refer to me as Rod. It was a name that Mike Buckle gave me many years back, which started out as J-Rod and then just got shortened to Rod, and it stuck.
WW: What have you been doing during the cold months here in Cali?
JC: Well, I definitely haven't been out wakeboarding much during winter. I think November was the last time I was out. I actually enjoy taking a few months off from the sport because it is so physically demanding on the body. I also tend not to get burned out when I give myself a good break.
School has been keeping me real busy, as I am a third year finance and accounting major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I am an officer in CCAW (Central Coast Association of Wakeboarders) and am co-tournament director for GraduWAKEtion, a killer tournament going off this spring out at Lopez Lake. Between those two commitments, I surf a couple times a week and try and skate every day. I've only spent about a week on the mountain this year because of the lack of snow situation and dirt boarding doesn't sound like much fun. I can't wait to get back on the water with CCAW as soon as it warms up!
WW: What are your plans for this summer?
This summer is going to be incredible. I am heading back up to Lake McClure and West Coast Camps for my fourth summer of coaching with Mikey Schwenne and the boys. I will be living on the camp houseboats for three full months as 25 kids come through the camp every week that I get the opportunity to coach and chill with. I'll be doing some traveling on the weekends to ride in other places to avoid the cabin fever. As much as I love the boys, living with eight dudes in a confined space can get to be a lot to handle if you don't get off the boats. I really want to ride for the camera (still and video) this summer and just be creative. It's gonna be awesome.
WW: How did you end up working at Mike Schwenne's camp?
JC: It's kind of a crazy story. I was a junior in high school and all I could think about was being on the lake and riding. I was only able to get on the water about once every couple weeks and once a week in summer if I was lucky. However, I kept slowly progressing. I knew if I wanted to get better, I was going to need to be in a place where I could ride every day, and a wakeboard camp was what came to mind.
I emailed about six camps back in Florida, but didn't get the responses I was looking for. I couldn't afford my own place to live and wasn't old enough at a few of the camps. I was about to give up until I saw an ad for West Coast Camps in WBM and thought what the heck, I'll give it a shot. I emailed Mikey and about a week later got a response back. He gave me a call and we started talking about plans for his new camp.
He invited me out on the boat for a few days during his first summer when it was just he and Mike Buckle working their butts off, and he later that year offered me a full-time summer position. I see it as nothing but a blessing to have been involved with such a cool thing in the sport from the ground up. To watch the camp grow from five campers, one wake boat and a houseboat to 25 campers, 5 wake boats, a pontoon boat and two houseboats has been incredible!
WW: Working at a wakeboard camp that has 25 different people coming through every week, there has to be some good stories. Are there any that stand out in your head?
Too many to count. I have had some of the best times in my life during the WCC summers. Let's see, one of the best parts about living on the houseboats is sleeping every night under the stars. One night on a full moon, myself and B-Rad (another coach) woke up a couple campers and as they were extremely groggy, we tricked them into thinking it was morning. We get up early to ride anyway, but not this early. We actually got them to eat breakfast, get into the boats and one of them actually got into the water to wakeskate before they realized it was really about 1 am. It was so bright that night and by us insisting that it was day, we pulled off a pretty funny prank. Everyone got a kick out of it.
WW: Where would you like to see yourself five years from now?
JC: I actually think about this question every day and, to be honest, I have no idea. Just a year ago I was living in Isla Vista going to school at Santa Barbara City College and now a turn of events has led me to Cal Poly where I am majoring in something I never thought I would. The only place I really care about being in five years is being in a position where I can have a positive impact on the lives of people around me. Whether that takes me to corporate America, Africa, still in the wake scene, wherever. I just want to keep my options open and go where I'm called.
WW: So when is the GraduWAKEtion tournament and what is it all about?
GraduWAKEtion is going to be held April 28-29 at Lopez Lake (about 15 minutes south of San Luis Obispo). CCAW has been working hard on this event for the last couple months and we are so stoked to see it blowing up. We have schools coming out from all over the nation to compete in the collegiate portion of the event. We also have an open men's and women's class for those who are not in college but who still want to compete.
Our two title sponsors, VS Marine of Atascadero and Mobley's Boardshop of Atascadero, as well as our other sponsors, have
been incredible in the development of the tournament. With free product giveaways (wakeskates, ropes, life jackets, clothes, Fusion tower speakers, etc.), raffles, live music, pro rider demos, great food and killer riding, this will no doubt be the biggest wake event the Central Coast has ever seen.
Check out www.graduwaketion.com for all the information you need!
WW: I believe I saw a shot of you in the mag not too long ago. Was that your first shot of you that's been published?
JC: Actually, no. I have kind of kept a real underground profile on my riding really until now, but I have had about four shots in alliance over the past years.
WW: What is it about wakeboarding that keeps you coming back for more?
Wakeboarding has enriched my life so incredibly much. I have no idea where I would be without it. I have made some of my best friends from this sport, traveled to many cool locations and spent my summers at the best wakeboard camp in the world just because I had a vision and acted upon that vision to accomplish a goal.
Just being on the lake is a place of comfort and security. I enjoy hanging out in the boat with friends and family every bit as much as I enjoy the riding. Our sport is definitely unique in that it brings a group of people together on the boat for an evening, afternoon or whatever to just chill and bond with each other. Every time I strap on my boots to ride I thank God
for the opportunity to be able to wakeboard.
WW: Is there anything that you would like to see change within the wakeboarding industry?
JC: There is always room for change in any industry. For wakeboarding, I really think that camps are one of the major aspects that generate growth in the sport. There are many camps that are popping up here and there, but the coaching is not up to par. I would like to see some day soon in the future a program that certifies coaches so that it can actually become a legitimate profession, to have all camps paying their coaches well to do their job to the best of their abilities. If you look at any of the other board sports, they have all taken this path and the surf, skate, snow industries are booming.
WW: Are there any riders that you are influenced by?
Yeah, for sure. There are a ton of riders who influence and motivate me to ride. Mike Schwenne has had a major part to do with my development as a rider. Just watching him ride over the years with the text book west coast style has given me so many ideas on how to do tricks different. We constantly push each other's riding and it has been so neat to see where it has and is taking both of us.
Mike Buckle is also one of my favorite riders to watch. Both he and Schwenne have taught me so much about style and how to actually ride a wakeboard. They both took me under their wing when I was younger and trained me on not only how to be a better coach, but a better rider. A lot of people can huck themselves around on a wakeboard, but not many know how to actually ride. Buckle is probably my favorite person to watch ride and I try and incorporate his style into mine.
WW: Being that you work at West Coast Camps, you obviously spend the majority of your time with riders looking to progress their riding and looking to you for input. Are there any little tips or words of encouragement that you can give to those reading this interview?
JC: Yeah, definitely. There are so many kids out there who are just focused on getting sponsored. I know because I used to be one of them. Instead of worrying about it so much, just chill and enjoy riding for what it is. Don't work hard to progress just to get sponsored. Work and ride hard because it's something that you love to do. Always keep a positive attitude and treat others with respect. This can be hard to do at times, but as long as you are focused and motivated to accomplish your goals, you can achieve anything. Don't take life for granted.
WW: Is there anyone that you would like to give props to?
JC: Gosh, there have been so many people who have helped me out along the way. First off, I have to thank my mom, dad and sister for being there to encourage me in all walks of life, Nonnie and Papa for always having open arms, Pat Young at
for my roots in the water and giving me that first chance to do what I love, Jeff and Cindy Frew for taking me into their home so many times, Mike Schwenne at West Coast Camps for too many things to name, Ryan Foster at Nemesis/Contra Clothing for standing behind me for years when other sponsors faded out, VS Marine for their unbelievable amount of support for CCAW and
their vision for the future of wakeboarding, Austin and Dane at Mobley's Boardshop for their GraduWAKEtion and community involvement, all the officers in CCAW who have worked so hard to create the biggest and greatest wakeboard club in the nation, Garrett Cortese at Alliance Wakeboard Mag for his support behind me, All the WCC coaches for too much to mention, Chris Brard and Steve Finegan for countless hours of wakeboard videos and trampoline sessions, Zack Luckett for just being Zack, all the kids
who come to camp with a desire to learn, Professor Graziano for giving me direction, God for his countless blessings, Arun for the interview and so many others.