Expert Spotlight: Kirby Liesmann – Owner & Instructor at Kirby’s School of Wake
Kirby Liesmann is a professional wakeboarder based in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri and Fort Myers, Florida. He has been a wakeboard instructor at his company, Kirby’s School of Wake, since 2008. Kirby is a long time friend of RaftUp and will be sharing his wakeboarding knowledge with our community in the coming weeks.
To begin, we want to introduce Kirby to the RaftUp family. We sat down with him to get some insight on his career as a professional wakeboarder and instructor:
How long have you been wakeboarding?
I have been wakeboarding since I was about 7 years old, so 21 years. I’ve always been in love with the sport and it’s always kept me on my toes. It’s been exhilarating to keep on learning new things and advance myself for competition.
How did you start wakeboarding?
My interest in wakeboarding started with my family vacations to Lake of the Ozarks. My whole family waterskis, so whenever my family vacationed, we were always in the water. When wakeboarding came around, there wasn’t even really proper equipment for my age and size. My older brother was into it, though, so I would watch him, and I got really into it. I eventually found a board my size and gave it a shot. It’s been my passion ever since.
What is the competitive scene like?
It’s kind of a young sport. I’ve been competing since age 14, and turned professional at 18. Competitive wakeboarding really started in the 90s. I got into the scene competing in regional events in Missouri, Illinois, and the Kansas City area. I got to see other people who were really good at wakeboarding doing tricks in higher divisions and it gave me something to strive for. I always wanted to learn the next trick and advance and get to the higher ranks. My exposure to competitions took what was a recreational weekend activity and made it something that I put all my energy into.
There are some grassroots tournaments that are sort of local. From the grassroots level you would go up to the World Wakeboard Association. They have a series of events that they host all summer. We had one recently at the Lake of the Ozarks called the Malibu Rider Experience where people would come from across the country to compete at the amateur and professional level. Once you make it in the pro circuit for the World Wakeboard Association, that’s what sets you apart from the amateur level.
Why did you start Kirby’s School of Wake?
For me it was a way to stay connected with the wakeboarding industry and it kept me in the water. It’s my passion! I could be on the water all day and it’s wouldn’t be work for me. If I’m able to share what I’ve learned from training with coaches and from experience with my students, I can help them get better and have a good experience. I still have a coach, actually, and I am always working on my own coaching style. Kirby’s School of Wake is a way for me to give back to the sport that has given so much to me.
Check out the RaftUp blog next week for our next interview with Kirby. You will learn what you need to know if you are wakeboarding for the first time. In the meantime, check out Kirby’s website here.
You can book your own lesson with him there, and you can get ahead of the crowd to RSVP for Kirby’s Awakin Camp from June 3-June 5 2019!