Alliance: When we think of Kansas, we think of BBQ ribs and chicken. Why should people come to Kansas to wakeboard?
KCW (Sean Hollonbeck): KC Watersports is here! We have a great park with sick rails, and a new two-tower cable for beginners and wakeskaters, and we are the coolest place to be in KC. Do you need any more of a reason than that? And yes, Kansas City does have the best BBQ in the nation, although some people say Texas is better, you have to come here to know the truth!
A: When did the park first open and when did the pro shop become a major component of the park?
KCW: The park first opened in 2004, Mike Olson (original owner) was one of the pioneers of cable parks in the U.S. There has always been product available to purchase at the park, but just last year the pro shop became a major component of the park. We expanded the pro shop area and brought in more Liquid Force and Sanuk, the best brands in the business.
A: You’re not the original owner of KCW. So when and how did you obtain ownership?
KCW: Mike Olson is the original owner and founder of KC Watersports. Mike did an awesome job running the park and promoting wakeboarding for seven years and was looking for a change of pace. He decided to join the Wake Nation team and opened Wake Nation Houston. He is looking to open several more parks around the country in the near future as well. At the end of 2010 Mike called Liquid Force founder Tony Finn, and Tony brought in some investors who bought KCW. I moved from Denver to beautiful Kansas City, and I am really stoked to be running the park. The main investor is Marco Thompson, who is a wakesurfing addict from San Diego.
A: Being from Colorado, how did you develop interest in cable wakeboarding?
KCW: My interest in cable wakeboarding really developed through my wife Sarah, who also works here at the park. She rode at KC Watersports while in college and fell in love with the sport and this place. We took a road trip over to KC from Denver and it was love at first sight. I fought choppy water for many years on the crowded lakes of Colorado and thought a cable would work perfectly for a region that does not have a lot of boating lakes. I started working on getting a park open in Colorado when the KC Watersports opportunity arose. It was the chance of a lifetime so we packed up and moved to KC! But don’t worry Colorado, we have not forgot about you.
A: What has changed about the park since you took ownership?
KCW: There have been many additions since we acquired the park. We have expanded the pro shop and now offer many brands to choose from. Just recently we have added a second lake for beginners and SUP’s, a sandy beach, and a shade structure as well. We have enhanced our features on the water too. The newest feature was designed through an online contest with our partners at Liquid Force and Alliance!
A: Every year, to kick off the season, KCW hosts an event called “Relentless Weekend.” Tell us a bit about that event.
KCW: Relentless Weekend is what wakeboarding is all about! Good times with great people! The weekend consists of three days of action packed fun. On Saturday we hold a “competition” of sorts. Teams are selected by putting all competitors’ boards in a pile and team captains pick their team by choosing boards out of the pile. Each team has a pro rider as their coach. Everyone picks one trick they want to learn and then a three-hour practice begins. At the end of practice the competition is held. Each rider has one chance to land the trick and score points for their team. It is all about progression and a chance to hang out with a pro rider.
A: Your Park is kind of in the middle of nowhere Kansas. What’s the funniest question one of the locals has asked you about the park or wakeboarding?
KCW: Wow this is a tough one. There are so many good ones to choose from. Lots of inquires about “water boarding” and “what the S#%& is it y’all do out here?”
A: Besides the park, where’s the best spot in Kansas to wakeboard?
KCW: Anywhere there is glassy water. Hillsdale Lake and State Park is a few miles away, and offers the full boating experience to complement your time at KCW.
A: What brands can people expect to see when they walk into your pro shop?
KCW: Liquid Force, Body Glove, Sanuk, Gopro, Boardworks SUP, Volcom, CTRL and O’Neill.
A: Cable parks are popping up everywhere. What do you think the future holds for cable wake parks?
KCW: The future is very bright for cable parks. There are countless parks that are being planned and built right now. It is a tough endeavor to build a park, but as they become more common hopefully it will become easier so that more parks can be opened. Cable parks make wakeboarding affordable, and that is the key to growing watersports.
A: What’s the one bit of advice you’d give someone interested in opening their own cable park and pro shop?
KCW: You have to be persistent. Don’t give up if someone tells you no. Get creative and keep your end goal in mind. This is a really tough, but super fun business. It’s a way of life.
A: What are your plans for the park and pro shop in the coming years?
KCW: Our plan is to build on the success and share our passion and excitement with as many people as possible. Hopefully we can continue the growth of our park, pro shop, and overall growth of the sport!
A: What’s this ‘Double Wide’ place people keep talking about?
KCW: (Laughs) It is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.
A: Who’s Destiny?
KCW: Destiny is a fairy gypsy princess. Find Destiny and you will find the Double Wide…
25825 Edgemore Road
Paola, KS 66071