Good Neighbor - May 2016
A world-class athlete who will soon graduate sixth grade, Evan Drye is competing in international kite-boarding competitions.
- story by Pat Saik, photos courtesy the Drye family
This point on the Mississippi Sound attracts riders who engage in this challenging sport because the high wind and flat water conditions make the spot a kiteboarder’s dream.
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.
As an F-ONE team member, Evan won first place in the Junior Freestyle event at Fly-Fest 2014 at Santa Marianita Beach, Ecuador. Thanks to this international win, Bay St. Louis is lucky enough to be the only city in America that can claim an international prize-winner in kiteboarding in his age class.
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 has lived in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina but he lives in Bay St. Louis these days, and really likes it. Why? “It’s small, you know everybody, and it’s on the water.” Evan alternates living with his mom, Mandie French, for a week, and his dad, Kevin Drye, for a week. His older sister, Olivia, is in the eleventh grade; his younger sister, Addie, is in the third grade. The aging family dog, Taco, is a sweet-tempered Chihuahua.
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.
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