Marshall Walk finally wore down his dad.
After years of asking his dad, Tony, to give him permission to get on a boat as a deck rider at the DePue Boat Races, his dad finally relented.
“I’ve always really wanted to be a deck rider,” Marshall Walk said. “I’ve been around boat racing ever since I was a baby. I was born into it. My dad and my grandpa were both racers. I’ve always wanted to race but my dad quit racing like 10 years or so ago. He didn’t really want me racing because it’s dangerous.
“I’ve been on him since I was 15 because that’s when you can deck ride. He was always hesitant and always said no. He finally came around this year. I asked him expecting the same answer, but he actually asked me who I’d be riding with and I told him Jason Sailer. He knows he’s a very smart driver, a good driver and a great guy. He said, ‘If it’s OK with Jason, it’s OK with me.’ I got excited. I talked to (Sailer), got everything figured out then I was on the water.”
Walk’s opportunity to be a deck rider with Sailer in the 1100 Runabout came after a discussion during the races in Constantine, Mich. the weekend before the DePue races.
“He was talking about not having a deck rider,” the Hall senior to be said. “I was talking to him and told him I’d like to be in the boat. He said, ‘If your dad says yes then it’s cool with me.’”
Walk has known Sailer for years from hanging around the races.
“I’ve known him his whole life,” Sailer said. “I’ve known his dad. He helps the Thirlbys out. I’ve known (Marshall) since he was probably 2 years old. He was dying to go and I was dying to take him. It worked out perfect.”
Walk had been in a boat as a deck rider just once before when his dad took him out for a few laps.
But Sunday was his first time in a race.
“I actually wasn’t that nervous surprisingly,” Walk said. “I figured I would be very nervous. I got in the boat and I was actually chill. I had a normal heartbeat. I trusted my driver and went with the flow. We got a perfect start and from there on it was smooth sailing.”
Walk said it was fun flying around the lake.
“It’s crazy out there,” Walk said. “It’s a little bumpy. You can definitely feel that on your shins with your shins hitting the ribs of the boat. The best feeling is when you feel him pull the pipes and you get that extra speed. It’s a crazy feeling. On the turns you have to hang on tight and lean with it. It’s something I’ve never felt before. It’s honestly the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Along with having fun, Walk proved to be just as fast on the water as he is on the football field or the track.
Sailer and Walk — a running back on the Hall football team and a two-time relay state champion last spring — won the first heat and placed third in the second heat to take the title.
“I really wanted to get him out front,” Sailer said. “I was happy we could do that.”
While he had fun as the deck rider, Walk said he hopes to be the driver at some point in the future.
“I plan on it sometime,” Walk said. “Maybe not until I’m out of college. We’ll see the money situation, how school goes and my job, but I’d like to.”
And since he’ll be 18 and out of high school next summer, there’s no more waiting for permission.
Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.