I was standing there sweating and fighting to elbow my way into the lineup of aggressive Costa Rican taxi drivers waiting for clients to arrive at the Liberia airport in Costa Rica. I held my faded, yellow World Class Academy t-shirt as a sign to introduce myself to the passengers I needed to find. I waved my t-shirt and a half-smile to anyone who might pass for a high school age solo traveler, toting luggage overstuffed with kiteboarding equipment.
My task was to find the first-ever World Class Kiteboard Academy (WCKA) class, then pack them and their luggage into our Ford Everest. The date was Saturday, Feb. 1, and it was the first day of the first semester for WCKA’s kiteboarding program.
My role at WCKA is to serve as a Literature and Media Productions teacher, a kiteboarding coach, and a logistics coordinator. Essentially, my job is to keep the students safe while transforming them into hard working, college-ready and very shreddy young adults.
The World Class Academy is an accredited college preparatory academy based in White Salmon, WA. The school has existed as a traveling kayak academy for nearly 12 years. Many of the world’s top kayakers are World Class alumni. We are working on taking the formula developed by the kayak school and adapting it to meet the needs of young kiteboarders.
The WCKA team couldn’t have been busier during our first session, which just wrapped up in Central America. We started with a quick orientation, then jumped into week one of classes and training in Bahia Salinas in Northwest Costa Rica where we encountered unbelievable conditions. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that at no point in time, day or night, was there ever insufficient wind for kiteboarding during our stay. We worked hard in the classroom every morning then walked to the beach for afternoon sessions.
After a couple dusting-off-the-cobwebs sessions, we segued into structured training during which the student-athletes rapidly improved their kiting skills. The kids worked really hard and proved, yet again, the potential of youth to bring the sport of kiting to new heights.
Our team spent two weeks in Bahia Salinas before we packed our bags, loaded our gear and hit the road. Our next stop was Lake Arenal where we found more unceasing wind on the small lake surrounded by lush Costa Rican jungle.
Without enough time to allow anyone at World Class to settle into a routine, after six days at Lake Arenal, we packed it up again and headed South on the Pan American Highway. Our next destination was Punta Chame, Panama, the site of the first PKRA freestyle stop of the 2014 world tour. All of the students and coaches elected to enter the competition.
For nearly all of us, the PKRA marked our first time competing at such a high level. It was an inspiring and eye-opening experience for everyone involved. The WCKA team is fired-up. We’ve seen how the world’s best kiteboarders train and compete. We sat next to legends for breakfast and lunch. We have higher goals and new friends. Indeed, we believe our program is on the road to something great.
Early March will mark the beginning of our stay in Cabarete on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. WCKA will remain there for one month before traveling to South Padre Island, TX to finish the semester.