Photo | Provided
Gary Holbein Jr. continues to make a name for himself in the world of personal watercraft racing. After having just picked up a national title, the student at Fairhope Middle School will look to secure world championships later this year.
“He spends his summer months doing the sport he loves — standup jetski racing,” said his father, Gary Holbein Sr. “He recently attended the Jettribe Watercraft Series at the Texas Water X Championships put on by Nauti Water Racing in Sulphur Springs, Texas, on July 24 and 25.”
There, young Gary – who turned 13 on August 21 — raced in the Junior Ski Lites class, where he placed first in his age group while piloting the newest watercraft in the industry — the 2021 Yamaha Superjet. He also raced in the Junior Ski 4 Stroke Lites class, where he finished first.
He completed the weekend by sweeping the championships with first-place overall for the series in the Junior Ski 4 Strokes Lites class. This qualified him for the International Jet Sports Boating Association’s (IJSBA) World Finals set for October 3-11 at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where he was the runner-up in 2020.
According to his father, who was a professional racer for many years, young Gary has been racing in the Pro Watercross National Tour all summer, which he was leading in points. He was scheduled for the last race in the series to compete for the National Title for Junior Ski 10-12 in Lake Charles, La., on August 28-29.
“But due to Hurricane Ida, the race event was cancelled,” said his mother, Tawnya Holbein. “Therefore, Pro Watercross has announced that the National Championship for the tour would be based on the accumulated points with the last completed round of the National Tour.
“Gary competed in every race of the tour except Racine, Wisconsin. He received first place in every race, except one in which he placed second. After the last completed round at Racine, this still left him with a 100-plus points lead over second place to make him the Pro Watercross Junior 10-12 Ski National Champion.”
Gary has only been racing for three years. The Pro Watercross season will come to a close in November when he will compete for the World Championships in Naples, Fla.
“Gary’s racing has really excelled this year due to his hard work and dedication on and off the water,” his mother added. “We are so proud of him for all his success this year. It is so much fun to watch him doing what he loves and doing it well.”
He practices and trains with Junior Stars of Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children to be safe personal watercraft users and dedicated stewards of our waterways. It is operated by the father-and-son duo of Doug and Bret Underhill.
“It feels great knowing that practicing with my parents and the Underhills has led up to this point of winning a national championship,” Gary Jr. said. “With the work that I have done tuning my ski with my dad, to getting time on the water and practicing with some of the more experienced pro riders, I feel it has helped me improve greatly this year.
“It makes me feel proud, and I really know that it makes my dad proud, too. All of my racing would not be possible without all of the support of my sponsors (Jetpilot USA, Jet Trim, Jet Blast of Mississippi, 3C’s property, TRD Designs, Junior Stars of Florida) and all my friends. And mostly, my mom and dad!”
Busy week in Foley
Foley Sports Tourism (FST) will be hosting a weekend of events set to draw thousands of soccer players and gymnasts to the city to compete. The action will especially focus on female athletes.
- The Publix SuperCup, a partnership between Snap Soccer and Perdido Bay FC, has a history dating back to 2007 when it was known as the Florabama Showcase, said tournament director Nick Cooper. As the event grew, it became too large for a single weekend and was split into a girls’ weekend and a boys’ weekend. The female teams will play Saturday and Sunday.
“Ultimately, I’d say the number of kids playing soccer overall is growing very fast. With the U.S. hosting parts of the 2026 World Cup, we feel the numbers are going to keep growing until then,” Cooper said. “It’s very important to give everyone an equal outlet to play. We have hosted a girls’ weekend for many years at the Publix Supercup, and the numbers keep growing.”
- This year the SuperCup will be sharing the FST soccer facilities with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Keiser University, the 2020 NAIA women’s soccer champions, will be returning to the FST Championship Stadium where they won the title this past May after their fall season was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The squad from Tallahassee, Fla., will take on the University of Mobile on Friday and William Carey University from Hattiesburg on Saturday.
- Meanwhile, the Foley Event Center will host the 10th annual Bounders Beach Bash set for Friday through Sunday. The competition is put on by the Bama Bounders Gym of Tuscaloosa. Meet director Erin Holdefer-Kightlinger said, just like soccer, gymnastics numbers are surging nationwide.
“We have seen an increase in enrollments at local gyms across the country,” Holdefer-Kightliner said. “I think parents want to get their kids involved in activities and we are blessed to have a wonderful sport for boys and girls to get involved in. Sports build character, discipline, and teach kids so many other life lessons. Staying active is important for growing children to help them stay fit, control their hyper tendencies, and to help their strength.”
She added the growth of the sport has also been reflected in the size of the Bounders Beach Bash. Registrations numbers have steadily increased over the last 10 years, despite a minor hiccup last year because of COVID-19. The competition, which is open to ages 6 and up, is expecting as many as 500 competitors this year.
All FST events are required to adhere to local, state, and federal COVID-19 guidelines. For more information on Publix SuperCup, Bounders Beach Bash, or any FST events, contact Stephanie Donald at 251-284-0089 or email@example.com.
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