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,
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 Not happy with the outdated formula put in place by existing clubs, Tristate sought to change the medium by making sure that all who followed were cared for.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, Tristate’s membership swelled to 161 members, making it one of the largest club in the US. Since then, under the able directions of Josh Brouwer, Tristate has added The Tristate Leaderboard that awards prizes for all speared species in New England,12 species with 24 chances to win and 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 collaborate to bring new ideas to New England spearfishing.