Kirby’s School of Wake began in 2008 after Pro Wakeboarder, Kirby Liesmann’s first offseason from living in Orlando. Kirby began wakeboarding at the age of seven, began competing at age 14, rode Jr. Pro in 2006, and has been riding in the Pro division since 2010. His passion for teaching is rooted in his past experience at the “school of hard knocks”. In Kirby’s early wakeboard years, he was uncoached and fearlessly pursuing new tricks on his own. This resulted in trying tricks he was fundamentally unprepared to learn and taking many hard falls. “There were a few falls that could have led me to quitting,” he stated. Because of this, Kirby’s passion is to help riders at all levels progress in a fundamentally correct and safe manner.
Kirby’s School of Wake has been rapidly growing since 2008
Kirby has spent many hours training and shadowing with the best professional wakeboarding coaches in the industry throughout his career. This experience has equipped him to create a specialized program for students of all riding levels. Kirby’s coaching style is relaxed, but very attentive to the fundamentals to ensure long-term success. He has developed many simple drills in order to adjust and improve rider’s techniques. “My theory is that if I can get a student to feel the proper form, either through a simulation on the back of the boat or an on-water drill, they are going to grasp the concept much quicker in the application of the trick they are learning,” Kirby explained. Lessons have also allowed Kirby’s School of Wake to build impactful relationships with families and students opening doors of opportunity to speak truth into the lives of students and to encourage them to achieve their goals. “Honestly, it is the best part about what we do,” Kirby commented.
The blessing of God, support of family and friends, the skills, the training, the hard work, and the prompting, mentoring, and guidance of skilled business professors have all helped to create the business we know and love today. Kirby expressed that any success Kirby’s School of Wake experiences comes from the blessing of God: “I strive to honor Him in all areas of the business and He fully provides our needs and great ideas. I once heard someone say that there is a difference between a good idea and a God idea, and we at Kirby’s School of Wake are pursuing the Lord in search of those God ideas.” Kirby’s School of Wake is constantly working to build and refine the program to accommodate more students and to create the most fun, positive learning experience for water sports enthusiasts at the Lake of the Ozarks and in Fort Myers, Florida.
Get To Know Kirby’s Sponsors
In my professional career, I have been blessed to work with the best companies in wakeboarding. The support of Wake Effects, the core wakeboarding shop at Lake of the Ozarks, has provided a great opportunity to surround myself with the local wakeboarding community and ride and the top of the line MasterCraft boats. I also have the opportunity to promote their pro-shop products, one of which being Ronix. Ronix is one of their top selling brands of wakeboarding equipment. I have been fortunate enough to ride for them since 2011. I have been so stoked on their constant innovation of products each season. I also have the honor of representing core brands such as Fox Racing, Zinka Sunscreen, BbTalkin’, and Xcel Wetsuits as well. These companies support me with great products that I need to keep me going on and off the water and take your wakeboarding lesson to the next level.
Aside from my industry sponsors, I am also sponsored by a medical software company called Sentact operated by an awesome family from Chicago that I have given lessons to since 2008. Dispensa-Matic Label Dispensers helps sponsor my travel to contests and events throughout the season. I’ve had the opportunity to wakeboard with their amazing family in Key Largo and the Ozarks and it is truly an honor to represent their product. Bear Trailers is a company that builds and sells boat trailers. They are based out of Lebanon, Missouri – their family and long-time friends and customers. Pop’s Beef Snacks is a family that has a heart for people – their beef snacks keep my students nourished on hot boat days! ProDezigns sponsors my boat wraps and stickers for the wake school. They do outstanding work and I highly suggest them. My newest sponsor is 5-Star Masonry. With their help we were able to really get our Florida location started. I cannot thank each of these sponsors enough for making what we do on the water possible.
I have also partnered with a few actions sports ministries that help me share my faith in Jesus Christ with fellow wakeboarders. These ministries include Eternal Riders who we team up with for the Ride with Us Camp, Wake Well teams up with me for weekly wakechurch, This Iz My Story produced the video of my testimony in 2012, Ride Nature produced the Purpose Film Project I got to be a part of, and I also partner with In His Wakes who gives underprivileged children the special treat to spend a day on the water learning how to water ski.
Ultimately, I would not be able to do the things that I do in wakeboarding without the support of these powerful partnerships. I am so very thankful to have their support. If you have an interest in becoming a sponsor, please contact Sydney Liesmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 UNLEASHED MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
Hey Kirby Can you tell us how old are you and where are you from?
I am 23 years young and I am from Lake of the Ozarks Missouri.
How long have you been wakeboarding?
The first time I strapped into a board I was 7, so that makes it 16 years of wakeboarding.
What board are you riding these days?
I am rocking the Ronix ATR One with the One boots.
Were you into any other sports at that time?
When I was 7 I was into everything from Skateboarding, snowboarding, golf, basketball, and baseball and mainly motocross. I was a fairly well rounded youngster.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
My favorite place to ride on my home turf is a sweet stretch of Conservation land that we call Long Cove. The best part about the cove is that it’s located on a bend of the main channel so the waves from 50ft yachts passing by don’t interfere with our riding conditions.
Do you have a regular crew of friends you ride with?
I do, when I am in Florida I ride with the guys on the East side of Orlando like Danny Thollander. In the summer months I ride with a huge squad of friends from The Lake of the Ozark area, Up-and-coming students, and my Dad is always down to take me on an early morning session when he is in town.
Do you have a favorite trick to do right now?
Yeah absolutely, I have really been enjoying the rush of the S-Bend lately. It feels like all your stomach muscles rush into your neck half way through the trick. Although when it doesn’t go well you can end up in a mangled mess.
What is your least favorite trick in wakeboarding?
Ha, I would say any trick that comes up 180’ short of what I had planed on doing.
We can see you doing a double roll, how long did it take to you to land it?
I started trying this trick back in 2010 and let it go until this summer when I felt it really starting to click. This summer I was trying a few a week depending on who I was trying to impress in the boat. On the night I got it we were filming for my local TV Show segment called The Pro Trick Attempt of the month and it really only took a few attempts that night.
Did you get some painful crashes?
I actually never took any super hard falls on this trick although when I start tying to take it to blind I’m sure there will be a few bells ringing in my head at some point.
What do you think makes a trick look good?
Individuality is what catches my attention the most in a trick. If a trick can be thrown in a way that makes me question how it was done I tend to find that fun to watch.
What motivates or influences you the most to learn new tricks?
Ultimately the thought of learning a new trick would be to one day put it into my contest pass, do it in a video segment, or even bust it out in front of my students on a demo to get them fired up. I actually learned a lot of new tricks this season while riding with my students. When I am working with them through the process of learning a new trick, I feel compelled to join them in what I call a fear bond. This really puts me on the spot because I don’t want to look like a chicken in front of my students.
Do you have a favorite rider that you look at for inspiration?
Yeah Absolutely, Shaun Murray has set a great example for me as a Christian athlete. The way he proclaims the name of Jesus Christ as his savior inspires me to live out my walk with God and ride for a bigger purpose then myself. Also his longevity in the sport and the way he runs The Boarding School paints the big picture of what a long-term carrier in the wakeboarding industry could look like for me. I also look up to guys like Andrew Adkison and Derek Cook who have always been super cool to me.
What gives you the drive to ride when you wake up every morning?
Ha, well most mornings my motivation is to make it to my lesson on time. The thing that has motivated me the most lately has been feelings stirring in my heart to try certain tricks or work on something specific. All of my success on the water this season was from acting on that impulse feeling while riding.
Has wakeboarding taken you to any places you never thought you would go?
For sure, the King of Wake series has allowed me to ride in some of the coolest places in America. I would like to take a trip across the pond at some point to ride for a mission trip of some sort.
What are your goals for the upcoming 2013 season?
I am extremely excited for the 2013 season; At this point in the off-season I am busy planning all of my events for summer. I will be working with Eternal Riders to share the gospel through the fun of wakeboarding by hosting wakeboarding camps, selling merchandise at contest and speaking at wakeboard church congregations.
Do you think Wakeboarding have to be an Olympic games ?
If Wakeboarding makes it into the Olympic’s our sport will blow up even more for sure. Just look at how snowboarding took over the winter Olympics when it was first introduced back in 2006.
What’s the stupidest thing you have done this week and what’s the smartest?
Ha, well last week when I was at a contest I was riding the elevator down to the lobby and as soon as got into the elevator I….. kinda let one rip! And just my luck, the elevator to stopped on the next floor to let people on. It was so obvious that the smell came from me; I had to have been beat red! lol
The smartest thing I can say I’ve done this week was truly relying on God to help me through a major decision I had to make.
As of right now, what are your first five songs you listen to when you put on your headphones?
1. Brother Moon (live) by Gungor
2. Whip It by Devo
3. Me Without You by TobyMac
4. Gangnam Style by PSY
5. No Love by Hooray For Earth
What question were you hoping we’d ask you, but we didn’t, and what is the answer?
I was hoping you would ask what I do in the winter since I’m not like all the other pro riders who spend all their winter months in Florida.
This is my second season not living in Orlando for the winter. Thankfully I can ride 9 months out of the year at home so with a few trips to Florida I don’t end up missing out on much riding. I am also taking classes to get my Bachelor’s degrees and working with my church as their youth group leader for a group of 70 kids. Another big part of my winter is attending boat shows in my area to promote my wakeboarding school events for the upcoming season.
Would you like to thank anyone for being where you are today?
Totally, if it weren’t for my relationship with God, the incredible joy I have in life would not be possible. I am extremely blessed with great parents and my brother that stand behind thought everything! I also want to thank my sponsors for their continued care, Eternal Riders, Ronix wakeboards, Fox Racing, Xcel Wetsuits, Zinka Sunblock, Super Sac’R Ballast Pumps.