When Kirby Liesmann hit the waves on a wakeboard at the tender age of seven, little did he know the experience would lead him to open a full-fledged wakeboard school, Kirby's School of Wake.
Liesmann, Pro Wakeboard Tour rider and coach, originally from New Haven, Mo., calls Lake of the Ozarks his home and provides beginning wakeboarders and enthusiasts an opportunity to get out and ride the waves.
"The best part about operating my wakeboarding school at the Lake of the Ozarks is the amount of people who come to vacation and to do exactly what I teach — to have fun on the water," Liesmann said. "I primarily teach wakeboarding, although wake surfing has become a popular way to spend an afternoon on the lake when the water conditions are no longer ideal for wakeboarding."
Having mastered many different towable devices prior, Liesmann first experienced wakeboarding at the age of seven years old when his family vacationed at the Lake of the Ozarks.
"My brother Jeff rented a board and we were hooked from that point on," he said. "We continued to come to the lake on weekends and we would use our 272 Baja to learn new tricks. As I continued to progress my wakeboarding skills, my topnotch father was willing to give up his precious Baja so I could have a wakeboarding boat to train on."
In 2002, Liesmann's passion for the sport ignited, bringing about a change when he began competing.
"My passion for the sport really took off when I started competing in 2002. At that time I was learning my tricks based on trial and error," he said. "This led to a lot of unnecessary pain and injuries at a young age. That could have scared me away from the sport. Thankfully I was able to get professional coaching to help me learn my first flips and spins. Throughout my years of competing in amateur contests and now on the Pro Wakeboard Tour, I have had a wide variety of coaches to help me develop my riding skills.
Liesmann's interest in coaching at the Lake of the Ozarks didn't peak until 2008, but it wasn't until 2010 when John McMahon, director and business instructor at State Fair Community College in Osage Beach, encouraged Liesmann to open Kirby's School of Wake as an official business.
Since the establishment of Kirby's School of Wake, Liesmann has seen a surge in the amount of lessons provided.
"In the past three seasons I have seen a steady increase in the amount of lessons I have given ranging from 120 in 2010, 300 in 2011 and this past summer I was blessed to be able to give 420 lessons," he said. "These lessons were an accumulation of private lessons on customer's boats, lessons on Iguana Watersports rental boats, clinic days and the Eternal Riders wakeboarding camps that I help put on here at Lake of the Ozarks and in Canada.
Page 2 of 2 - "The sport is definitely growing at the Lake of the Ozarks, especially with events such as BROstock coming to the area," Liesmann said. "They has shown people from all over the Midwest that the Lake of the Ozarks is a great place to wakeboard as long as you are willing to get out early and beat the traffic. There are also a lot of wakeboarders at the Lake who are pushing their skills and looking to compete."
Kirby's School of Wake will be offering lessons on the 2013 Nautique G23 through MarineMax. Persons interested can book lessons with Kirby to use the Nautique or own personal watercraft. If you do not have a boat and you would like to rent one, you can rent a wakeboarding boat from Iguana watersports and have Kirby come teach you how to ride and operate the boat.
Kirby's School of Wake will also be hosting its second annual Eternal Riders wakeboarding camp at Camp Windermere on June 10-12 and One Day Clinics on July 5, 19, and August 2. MarineMax will also be hosting an amateur wakeboarding contest called the Triple Threat Throw down where amateur riders can come out and test their wakeboarding, wakesurfing and double-up skills against the local competition on August 10.
Some of the best wakeboarders in the world will converge at the Lake of the Ozarks June 7 for BROstock, a wakeboarding competition held for the second year in a row at the lake.