Created under a freak double astrological sign in 2008, Tristate Skindivers’ propitious beginnings were as inauspicious as the group that forged it. The idea originated after a series of failed ventures by its founders who floundered to find their place in a post Macarena world. Tristates’ originator and spiritual advisor was the Reverend Kelly Gillette, aka “Fat Jesus.” Before creating Tristate, he had tried his hand at several vocations. Chilean Rodeo poet was a bust, so he became a man of the cloth… terry cloth to be exact. Originally performing emergency wedding ceremonies and dance floor exorcisms, he was eventually able to secure a location to preach his faith. Although the church was well attended, during the second week in operation the police impounded the van mid-service, surreptitiously ending his ministry. After his spiritual depantsing, Kelly decided to join the Navy Chaplain’s Core, but he was told that his lack of credentials and propensity to wear only a bathrobe in public that the only place for him was with the Navy divers. This brought Kelly to New England where he met John Tolmie and Jason Saiz.
Prior to his service, John had pioneered the crossfit revolution with his patented cross-dress fit. It was an exercise revolution, but after Madonna and Cyndee Lauper left the music scene, the pink tutus required to train were viewed less as quirky and more as an aberration. A consummate entertainer, John next joined a Meatloaf cover band, and while their concerts were well attended across the federal prison circuit, the socks they stuffed into their drawers were off-putting to most crowds outside of penitentiaries. Eventually, while playing Fulsom, he was removed for alleged lewd conduct. Removed from the tour, and suffering the blues, he joined the Navy where his years of entertaining inmates and natural Meatloaf exuberance made him a natural fit for Navy diving.
Jason Saiz was born in Mexico on the eve the marigold bloom. After his much anticipated quinceanera, he was fishing the Great North Current on the Pacific side when he speared a Giant Yellowfin Tuna the likes not seen in those waters since the fabled potato shaped like the Virgin Mary was unearthed. The fish dragged Jason up the coast, setting him, half drowned, on the Isle of Catalina. The next day, disguised as a Guatemalan maid, he traveled to LA to start life anew. Alas, when the ferry hit port, he was Shanghai’d by a militant group of sailors, when he awoke he had been enlisted in the Navy. Although nothing can be confirmed, it is rumored he once made love to a porpoise.
Ricardo Cruelles hails from Spain and is the European representative of Tristate. Little is known about the Ricardo’s past, apart from that the year he left Spain coincided with the Catholic school he attended being burned down under suspicious circumstances. No one really inquired as to why he didn’t return to Spain for 10 years, something to do with statute of limitations.
Jason Williams has the privilege of the last spot on the founders list, the only Tristate founder who hails from NE. While spending much of his life as a monastic hermit in the hills of Essex, he broke his vow of silence one day while passing a kidney stone and decided it was time to see the world. Fascinated by the story he’d read about Tenzig Norgay and the Sherpas of Nepal, he traveled east (plus he liked that fact his name had “gay” in it). Unbeknownst to him prior to arrival, one cannot smoke in the low oxygen atmosphere of the Himalayas, so his tenure there was short (and anoxic). He returned to the US where he used his carpentry skills to build homes for cheerleaders, who he felt were demographically underrepresented by Habitat for Humanity.
Together, these five founders of Tristate envisioned a fishing club that embraced comradery, environmental conservancy, charity, and a free spirit. It was once noted that Tristate put the “FU” back into fun, although never confirmed. Not happy with the outdated formula put in place by existing clubs, Tristate sought to change the medium by making sure that all who followed were cared for. The first act was to ensure that all competitors had an equal chance to win prizes. No longer would the best divers stuff their basements and garages with dive gear just awaiting the day they would release them onto Ebay or Craigslist. Instead, all would share in the bounty, and no club officer would ever take a prize or accept a “gift”, all donated gear to be given to the people.. a popular concept it turns out. The next area of concern was the question of funds. It was agreed early on that all profits from membership dues and tournaments would go to charity. To date, tens of thousands of dollars have been given to great charities in the local community and beyond. The last, and to us the most vital to anyone in search of membership in any group, was entertainment. Tristate endeavors each year to host events that offer comradery, great eats, and respit from the daily tumult of life. Tristate challenge coins can be found on every continent, so if you are ever presented one in challenge, be prepared or it will be your round, and the Tristate membership is a thirsty one. It is because of these base tenets that Tristate became the biggest spearfishing club on the East Coast of the US (perhaps the nation).
Once the foundations of the club had been established, thus ended the first age of Tristate. In 2015, the officers of the club, seeing a need to engage the youth of New England, sought a younger leadership in Mike Landau and Mike Meyers. Mike and Mike took Tristate into the digital age. By utilizing the magic of social media to reach out to the masses who were unavailable to the printing press-esque methods of the founders (they tried to explain it to the old leadership, but in the end, from frustration, just told is it was magic). Through their hard work and the start of the Tristate Leaderboard the Tristate’s membership swelled to 150 members, making it the largest club in the US. Since then, under the able directions of Josh Brouwer the Tristate Leaderboard which awards prizes for all speared species in New England is by far the most forward thinking concept to be added to the sport nation-wide, and the most well attended diving medium in New England. Now, as the sun sets on the second age of Tristate, Josh Brouwer will take the reigns as president, ably assisted by Mitchell Belanger (the Sampson of NE diving). Together they will continue the legacy that is Tristate Skindivers, the club everyone want to be apart of because its so much fun!
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