Enerskin is excited to continue our Customer Highlight series, where we interview customers who’ve tried out Enerskin compression gear. In this post, we interview Kirby Liesmann, pro wakeboarder and owner of Kirby’s School of Wake! Read on to learn about his passion for wakeboarding and his thoughts on Enerskin’s full leg compression sleeve.
On How He Started Wakeboarding
I started wakeboarding at a super young age - I got into it when I was 7 years old. I did it recreationally growing up with family. We had a boating lifestyle and would go to the lake on weekends. All our vacations in the summertime revolved around wakeboarding. I was always on a board and was always passionate about extreme sports. Extreme sports were the most fun for me and challenged me the most, giving me the most expression of character and creativity.
Out of all the board sports that I did, I gravitated toward wakeboarding the most and just kind of ran with it. I kept learning and progressing, which eventually led me to competing and obtaining pro status. Since I’m 29 now, I’ve been wakeboarding for 22 years and pro for 10 years.
On the Appeal of Wakeboarding
The acrobatic aspect of wakeboarding is definitely the part that gets the most attention. It’s the exhilaration factor, always being able to chase after the next best thing. What new thing can I do on the board? What can I do better? I’m always looking for that new twist to put into my riding.
On Injury and Enerskin’s Full Leg Compression Sleeve
In 2014, I badly tweaked my right knee right before the break for winter. So I rested it all winter and did physical therapy, but didn’t really get it checked out. Come time for the new season in the spring, I went back to training and immediately my knee gave me issues, right as the first tournament of the year was coming up.
My knee bugged me a lot during that first tournament. Thankfully, I saw another competitor named Sean O’Brien who had on an Enerskin full leg sleeve. I’d seen other professional athletes use compression sleeves in the past and he was telling me how much the sleeve helped him.
The next week was another week of training for a bigger upcoming event. About halfway through the week I could barely ride - my knee was just excruciatingly painful. I had an Enerskin sleeve overnighted to me so I could still do my next contest.
That was my introduction to the Enerskin full leg sleeve. From that May, I wore the sleeve all through summer. Near the end of the season, I made the mistake of putting my sleeve in my boot and putting my boot upside down on the wakeboard rack on the boat, and my sleeve fell into the water. I circled around, couldn’t find it, and was devastated.
That was on a Monday and I was leaving on Thursday for the 2015 World Championships in Portugal. That week, I trained without the sleeve and that excruciating pain came back to my knee. Yet again I had another sleeve overnighted to me. I went to Portugal, competed, and did pretty well, placing somewhere in the top 20.
After the championships, my knee still didn’t feel 100% so I went to get an MRI, and it turned out that I had a really badly torn meniscus. I had no idea, and I was just nursing along with the Enerskin sleeve for months.
The Enerskin full leg sleeve was the changing factor for me that allowed me to push through my entire season - I didn’t miss out on a single exhibition, lesson, or tournament. It bought me precious time to be able to continue to ride and do what I do. I had surgery that fall to repair the meniscus. After the surgery, the surgeons said they couldn’t believe that I was wakeboarding, because they thought that I shouldn’t have even been able to walk!
[Ed. note: We’re absolutely thrilled to hear this testimonial! However, Enerskin strongly recommends that if you suspect an injury, please consult your physician before returning to your sport or workout.]
On the Benefits of Enerskin’s Full Leg Compression Sleeve
So that’s a huge testament to what the Enerskin full leg sleeve was doing for me during that time. Since then, I’ve just continued to use it. If I ever have a session without it, I can definitely feel that things are little bit more painful.
I think the sleeve helps keep my kneecap aligned, applies pressure in the right places, and cuts down on wear and tear. That extra bit of security and stability in my knee has been hugely helpful. And the fact that the sleeve is waterproof and doesn’t slip around - I don’t think there are any other products out there that could do the same thing for me.
Enerskin compression gear can become a part of your daily routine or arsenal of gear. You already invest in top quality sports gear, why not have quality compression sportswear? It’s not just for injuries, but more importantly for injury prevention. You might as well start using one now and feel better in the long run.
On Why He Started a Wakeboarding School
Kirby’s School of Wake is based out of the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri during the summer months and Fort Myers, Florida during the fall, winter, and spring months. We’re chasing the endless summer, creating community in our business, and bringing people together for the fun aspect of wakeboarding. It’s an individual sport, but it’s also a group and community that comes together to do it.
Coaching was a way for me to stay tied to the industry and to give back. There wasn’t a Kirby’s School of Wake when I was growing up - I just went to the school of hard knocks! Younger kids coming up that want to progress and get better might take hard falls that could potentially scare them away from the sport. I’m able to come in and share what I’ve learned so they can avoid those nasty slams that could easily tweak a shoulder or knee.
Now that I have a wakeboarding school, I’m focused on bringing out the next generation of professional wakeboarders and kids just aspiring to get better on the water. I’m still extremely passionate about my riding and competitions, but it’s nice to mix and blend my passion for wakeboarding and being able to share that with others.
The more we can encourage people to continue to go out on the water, be active, have fun with their riding, and improve their skills, there’s nothing better. It’s been a blessing to have a way to give back to the sport that has given me so much.
[Ed. note: Kirby just had a career-best finish over the July 1 weekend. He placed 5th overall in the Pro division. Congrats Kirby!]