At the 2020 WWA World Wakeboarding Championships, seventeen-year-old Mary Morgan Howell earned her spot amongst the greats when she defeated World Champions Dallas Friday, Bec Gange and veteran pro Tarah Mikacich finishing in second place a few points behind defending champion Meagan Ethell.
The native from Dothan, Alabama, started the year by winning the Last Chance Masters Qualifier (LCMQ) and finished the season with a bang winning the Fan Vote at the Moxie Pro Series. As the most popular rider, Mary Morgan walked away with the coveted sponsorship contract becoming the new Body Glove Girl.
Humble and sweet, the Christian teenager was first introduced to the lake life by her father, a hard-working orthodontist, who pulled her on the inner tube in Compass Lake, Florida, where he owns a house an hour away from home.
“My dad first strapped me on a wakeboard when I was 6 years old. I have NO recollection of it at all. I honestly don’t know life without it. It’s always been there. When I was 8, my dad entered me into my first INT tournament. I can remember being so nervous standing on the dock waiting for my turn to come!”.
As a ten-year-old, the young gun shocked herself and the crowd when she landed her first invert (a front roll) during a competition.
“When I was 10, I did my first WWA competition. I think that was really when I fell in love with the sport and felt led to dedicate my life to wakeboarding”.
By age eleven, she started homeschooling so she could focus on daily practice and travel.
“In order to further my training and allow me to have some travel flexibility, my parents decided to homeschool me. In my house, school always comes first, so the deal was: Get your work done first, then go ride. Talk about some motivation (lol).”
Her dad planted the seeds of self-discipline by example and has been her main supported and boat pilot from day one.
“He gets up early in the morning and pulls me no matter what!” She gushes at her father’s commitment and dedication, which included almost stalking former World Champion Andrew Adkison until he agreed to become Mary Morgan’s personal coach. Adkison has been her coach ever since, he’s helped her build a strong and solid foundation by keeping her safe from injuries with his amazing coaching skills.
Ronix Wakeboards began to support her with equipment when she turned twelve.
Mary Morgan turned pro in 2018, when asked how it feels to become the new Body Glove Girl she humbly says, “That was definitely cool! To be named the new Body Glove Girl is an absolute dream. I think Body Glove is an amazing company, and I couldn’t be more honored to join the family. I am so looking forward to meeting everyone, and hopefully make lifelong friendships.”
“I truly believe how you train and fuel your body off the water is pivotal to your performance on the water. I have definitely found that to be true in my own life. As far as nutrition goes, I always try to eat foods that fuel me and make my body feel good for training. This looks different for every person, because everybody is unique. Find what works for you and stick with it! As far as training off the water, I do a combination of Yoga, Pilates and strength training.”
The world traveler feels extremely grateful for all the experiences her wakeboarding career has brought.
“I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Mexico, Peru, Canada, Australia, Portugal, and Japan. Also, I’ve traveled to many amazing places right here in the US!”
So far, her favorite traveling anecdote has been in Japan:
“The 2018 WWA World Championships in Japan was seriously an experience I will never forget. Honestly, it is probably within my top 3 favorite moments of my life…
- The Ramen was absolutely out of this world. It 100% made me a Ramen snob and I’m totally ok with it.
- The people were so kind and fun. They were always ready to help in any way they could.
- Everywhere was SQUEAKY clean.
- You could be anywhere, and just stand in awe of the beauty that Japan had to offer. It was amazing.
- The culture shock I experienced was so cool. Most of the time, we couldn’t tell whether we were eating food on our plate or if it was some kind of decoration. We were required to wear robes to dinner and take off our shoes at the table. I got to perform with a Japanese boy band and sing karaoke with a Japanese Pop star.
This experience is one I will hold onto forever! I hope I get the chance to go back one day! “
Mary Morgan’s strong faith inspires her to uplift others. “It is not about me” she says, “My faith is the most important thing to me. I love Jesus with my whole heart. He gives me the strength I need every day on and off the water. He gives me peace, and he’s my comforter. I just want to live for Jesus. I want to be the light that people need. I want other people to know and experience His love, because I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it. I pray for the wakeboard community daily that we’d all feel Gods loving presence, because he loves each and every one of us so much.”
She feels mostly inspired by her father, “My dad inspires me more than anyone in the world. There has not been one time in my 12 years of riding that he hasn’t been ready to take me wakeboarding. No matter what, he is always there for me. I could never put into words how thankful I am that God gave me such an amazing dad. I 100% would not be where I am as a wakeboarder or a person without him. He has taught me drive, commitment, efficiency, perseverance, and of course how to back a boat trailer, ha-ha.”
Her advice to those who are getting into wakeboarding: “Remember to never compare yourself to others. God has made you who you are for a specific purpose. He made you absolutely perfect, with no mistakes. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and I think it’s so beautiful when we can appreciate and be inspired by others strengths.”
“I’m working on lots of big things for the 2021 season. I CAN’T WAIT!! I don’t have the opportunity to ride much cable in Alabama, but when I move to Orlando, I’d love to get some cable riding in more often!”
The newcomer to the Wakeboarding Mecca will miss her two dogs Ollie and Fin, whom she loves more than anything, but we have a feeling the sky is the limit for the beautiful girl who will finally get the opportunity to get filmed, ride and mingle with our sports best.
“My family makes me so happy. They are the best! I’m so thankful for the way they love and support me.”