Author: Amy Gatlin
Cracked [krakt]: Internet gaming term used by people to describe someone who is incredibly good at something.
As an instructor, Kirby hangs around kids all the time; he hears all of these cool, hip, trendy phrases all the time. One that has stuck with Kirby this year is the term “cracked.” Kids told him it started as a term in Fortnite and it has transitioned into being used in phrases to describe people who are great at anything, in particular.
What does it take to be cracked at wakeboarding – to go from good to great? We have a page on our website that is called “Students.” All of the students featured on this page are students we have worked with over the years that are cracked at wakeboarding. They have gone from good to great, making the effort and investing the time to compete and show off their skills on the water. There have been a handful of students over the years: Jaden Reichel, Brett Powell – making their way into riding Pro, Brody Spriggs – well on his way to Jr. Pro, and a few others putting in the time, traveling to competitions, and being cracked at wakeboarding. All of the athletes featured on the Students page have taken the steps necessary to make it to the next level in wakeboarding.
Kirby works with many students throughout the year. He said everyone has the opportunity to achieve greatness in wakeboarding and wake surfing. Kirby says there are a few things that are necessary to make the critical step to go from good to great: First, the student has to have a passion for the sport. You have to truly love the sport, to take it to the next level. Second, there has to be an element of natural talent. Tricks tend to come quickly for those who have a natural talent in the sport. Third, the rider has to be teachable. Not only to they need to be able to listen and receive instruction from a coach, like Kirby, but they also need to pursue learning in other ways. For example, the student needs to have a desire to watch and learn from other riders, and watch and study films of other riders and of themselves. They can’t just go out there and wing it, hoping to land a new skill; there needs to be more effort and thought that goes into progression and learning new skills. Finally, the student has to have the right opportunities. They need to have the right boat, live in the right place, and have someone who is willing to pull them frequently. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, but having time on the water is critical to be cracked at wakeboarding.
When Kirby made the transition to go from “good” to “great,” as a teenager, his parents made the decision to sell their family boat – a 27 foot Baha – to get a wakeboard boat. His parents sold out their aspirations of how they envisioned lake time with the family, to pull Kirby around constantly on a wakeboard. Kirby said that sometimes his parents would tow the boat to the Missouri River and ride in places that weren’t necessarily the safest for wakeboarding. However, they did it to give Kirby more time on the water, in order to achieve his dream – to have more ride time, allowing him to get better at wakeboarding. Kirby also reminisces on the memories made in Florida during the winters. His parents allowed him to go to Florida so he wasn’t sitting idle in the winter. In the summer, Kirby would return to Missouri, to receive more coaching. Without his parents being behind him 100%, it would have been more difficult for Kirby to achieve all that he has in his wakeboard career.
Kirby always tells people he first attended “Kirby’s School of Hard Knocks.” In the beginning, he would just wing it, sending new tricks and trying not to get hurt. It would often result in Kirby having to take time off to heal from an injury, then working his way back up to get better again, while trying not to be afraid of reattempting the new trick. Kirby is thankful to be able to help students develop a good foundation, learning the basics and getting comfortable gaining control over tricks, then adding more rotations, higher difficulty, more grabs, and developing more style. It’s a whole process that you have to go through, to go from good to great – to be cracked at wakeboarding.
Kirby sees incredible talent, all the time, with the students he has. A lot of times, families schedule a lesson with Kirby’s School of Wake to get experience, or to just do something fun. Kirby said he often thinks, “Wow! If this kid could get more time on the water and do more lessons, they have some real potential.” There are so many kids with natural talents, who probably pick up multiple sports very easily. With so many competitive sports opportunities for kids these days, they all take so much time. The athletes on Kirby’s “Students” page are all of his student athletes who have chosen wakeboarding as the sport they are dedicating their time to, putting in the practice time, studying film, and traveling to competitions to showcase their talents. Their time and dedication has allowed them to go from good to great, making them cracked at wakeboarding.
There are other sports that can contribute to wakeboarding skills and help unlock new levels of talent, such as skateboarding, ocean surfing, gymnastics, and even football or basketball. Some of the students participate in other sports on the side for fun, but their priority is wakeboarding. If a person wants to make a career out of the sport or be really good at the sport, they have to be completely sold to wakeboarding. The featured students have made the decision to fully devote themselves to the sport of wakeboarding. Kirby says, “I couldn’t be more honored that God has aligned me with these kids who have made the decision to go that level, so I can lead them along and help them, not only with the physical side of it all, but also the mental side. This sport can weigh on you and you can get burnt out if you are not careful. It is important to keep it fun, keep it light, and continue to do it for the passion and the love; then you can’t go wrong.”
Wakeboarding is truly a family sport, even if not everyone in the family isn’t cracked at wakeboarding. Families of the featured students travel all around the country, and some around the globe. They develop a wakeboard family, composed of other families who travel to watch their loved ones compete, while supporting those they have bonded with through the years. Wakeboarding can bring families together. Even if a traditional Kirby’s School of Wake students does not make a career out of wakeboarding, it still is not wasted time to get to the level he or she desires. Family members can take turns behind the boat, encouraging each other along the way. The memories that are created on the water are incredibly special and different than the memories created with many other sports.
Whether you want to be cracked at wakeboarding, or just brush up on some skills or develop a solid wakeboarding foundation, the coaches at Kirby’s School of Wake can help you achieve your dreams.