- story by Pat Saik, photos courtesy the Drye family
Evan Drye loves to fly. Not in an airplane, but holding onto a crescent-shaped kite propelling him across the water by sheer wind power. Lines attached to the kite meet at a control bar Evan holds while standing on a board about three to four feet long and wearing a harness. If the wind it right, soon Evan is flying above the water, doing flips and other fancy tricks.
It’s called kiteboarding.
“It’s fun,” Evan explains.
Evan, who just finished sixth grade at Coast Episcopal, fell in love with kiteboarding at the age of 8. As Evan tells it, one day he and his dad, Kevin Drye, were walking along the beach at Henderson Point.
Evan watched the kiteboarders for awhile and knew without a doubt that kiteboarding was the sport for him. Turning to his dad Kevin, Evan said simply, “Oh, I want to do that really bad.”
And his dad, who must have seen the light in Evan’s eyes, said yes.
Evan’s parents took seriously his passion and excitement about learning the sport. They found a store in Edgewater Mall in Biloxi, Gulfport Board Sports, which not only sold kiteboarding equipment but also offered lessons.
“It took me about five or six months to learn the basics. After about a year, I started doing tricks.”
Strong, skillful and motivated, Evan decided to compete for a place on the team of French company, F-ONE, a leader in the production and sale of kitesurfing equipment. With his dad’s help, Evan put together a package of pictures and videos. Competing with kids around the world, F-ONE chose Evan to be a team member, the only American on the team. As Evan’s sponsor, F-ONE covers expenses of travel to other countries for Evan and his father.
Fresh off his spectacular showing in Ecuador, Evan and 10 members of the F-ONE team, aged 10 to 17 years old, were chosen to be a part of the F-ONE Next Generation Team, designed to help young talent become professional kiters. The team attended a 2015 training camp in Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands. Evan, the only member from the United States, had members on his team from Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Amsterdam.
Evan enjoys every minute of being a world traveler. “I like going to different countries and eating different food. In Spain, I ate squid. The little suction cups stick to your tongue. And the fish was so fresh and good, caught 10 minutes before it was cooked.”
Evan’s maternal great grandfather, and his mother Mandie’s grandfather, Fred Peterman, was a well-known personage in the Bay/Waveland community. He and his wife Pearl sold some of the best boiled seafood around, at Peterman’s Delicatessen on Coleman Avenue in Waveland, which opened in the1970s.
One of Fred Peterman’s sons, Stephen, born in 1982, inherited the strength and endurance that his father displayed in cooking, playing football with the Dallas Cowboys (2004-2005) and the Detroit Lions (2006-2012) as a guard.
With athletic prowess in his blood, it is no wonder that Evan excels at sports. He plays soccer as a team member of the Bay Area Youth Soccer organization.
Evan likes playing soccer, “but kiteboarding is my favorite.”
In kiteboard slang, Evan is called a “grom,” short for “grommet,” a young surfer, usually under 15 years old, in extreme sports like kiteboarding. When Evan started kiteboarding at the age of 8, he was one of only a handful who kiteboarded at such a young age. Currently, there are several younger kiters in other countries, according to his dad Keith.
Now turning 12 years old in June, Evan wants to kiteboard all his life. He is hoping that kiteboarding will eventually become an Olympic sport, but in the meantime, he can be found sailing across the water at 15 knots, wind in his hair and a big smile in his heart.