DUNEDIN — Tate Freeman took an impressive leap forward in his young career this past weekend.
The Dunedin High School sophomore reached the semifinals and placed fifth overall in the professional division of the 2013 World Flowboarding Championships.
Freeman traveled with family to the event hosted by the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., and competed against some of the up-and-coming sport's best from around the globe.
“That was a really fun experience and I got to ride with a lot of cool people,” said Freeman, adding that early jitters washed away once he got onto his initial wave. “The first run is always really hectic and it's kind of a little shaky when you pull some tricks. But once you pull some stuff together it starts to come together pretty well.”
Freeman, who took up flowboarding just over two years ago, appears to be advancing just as the sport is. “Last year I rode but I wasn't at the skill level I am now, so I definitely did a lot better this time.”
In addition to his fifth-place finish as a sponsored pro, Freeman took third in the junior division against more similarly aged competition. The 15-year-old has been sponsored by 13roz Photography, Ocean Rebel and Ash Flowboards for the past year.
Incorporating elements of surfing, skateboarding and wakeboarding, flowboarders ride and pull tricks on a continual, artificially created wave.
As he continues his training at Clearwater's Surf Style and Kissimmee's Fantasy Surf, Freeman said experiencing the advancement of flowboarding is as exciting as his own individual improvements.
“Just seeing all the competition and how it's grown was cool,” he said of last weekend's championships, “and meeting all the new people from around the world and in the country.”
Freeman's achievements in Arizona come about a month after he found similar success at nationals in New Jersey.
Although the flowboarding competition season for 2013 is wrapped up, Freeman's schedule gets no less hectic. The sophomore's in line to be Dunedin High's representative at 152-pounds as the upcoming wrestling season currently gets underway.
This is Freeman's second year on coach Marc Allison's always-competitive Falcons squad and first as a full-time varsity grappler.