Let the games begin
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spectators Saturday on Charleston's Magic Island watched professional and amateur Jet Ski racing, pro beach volleyball, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, submission wrestling and a Zumbathon on the banks of the Kanawha River.
The West Virginia Games and SportsFEST are taking place this weekend, the first time that the events have been combined. They have drawn more than more than 400 athletes from around the world.
Trey Frame returned home to compete. Frame races Jet Skis professionally, traveling across the country to compete on the UWP-IJSBA circuit.
"To have something here in our hometown is really special," Frame said.
In October, Frame will travel to Arizona for the world championships but, this weekend, he is enjoying being home. Frame was born and raised in Charleston and learned how to ride Jet Skis on the Kanawha when he was just 11.
"It's been quite a long time and long journey," he said. "It's exciting to get the turnout -- fans and local people -- and being in our home town representing and showing off our beautiful city is great."
Samantha Carney, a manager at the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this year's event has the largest number of athletes and activities.
"We decided to go ahead and take those two [WVGames and Sportsfest] and fill up the island a little more," Carney said. "We want more people to continue to come in and enjoy themselves on weekends like this."
The Booze Mountaineers provided live music Saturday.
Carney and other events organizers say combining the two events is the way to go.
"Everybody gets exposed to different things they might not watch normally," said Butch Hills, who is running the state championships for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission wrestling.
"Normally when we do our Jiu-Jitsu competitions, they're inside," Hills said, "so this is really unique."
The Glennon family of Kansas City travels across the country racing Jet Skis. John Glennon said he is proud to watch his two daughters follow in his footsteps. Jessie, 11, and Anna, 17, started racing competitively more than a year ago and haven't looked back since.
"I already started school, but I haven't gone to school yet," Jessie said. "It's actually really great, because I kind of like missing school."
In her most recent race, in Wisconsin, Jessie picked up a new sponsor and, this weekend, she was asked to join her dream racing team -- Kawasaki.
She said she usually talks to herself during races, to stay focused.
"It gets my mind off the fact the I'm going over really big waves and stuff," she said. "It's kind of my solution, some Jet Skiers have lucky pants."
Next year, the event will expand even more, Carney said, adding a CrossFit event, a distance skateboarding competition, and possibly the Dirty Girl Mud Run.
"We make unique events out of the space that we have," Carney said.
Reach Caitlin Cook at email@example.com or 304-348-5113.