Nona Adventure Park serves as a springboard for teens representing the United States in annual international wakeboard competition this summer.
Fourteen-year-old Isaic Claudio has only been a wakeboarder for three years, but he’s already sponsored by national brands and has big plans to compete in the Nautique European Wakesurf Championship next month in London.
He’ll be traveling with 30 other amateur and professional wakeboarders from around the country, some of whom train at Nona Adventure Park, the family entertainment and watersports attraction in Lake Nona’s Laureate Park neighborhood.
“He took to it immediately,” says Tara Hill, Isaic’s mom. “He begged us every day to bring him to wakeboard at Nona Adventure Park, and finally we decided to move to Laureate Park so he could have better access to his passion for the sport.”
Every day, Isaic goes out to train, and Hill says the sport has literally changed his life. “[He] was kind of an introvert in our old neighborhood. It was hard to make friends,” she says. Now, Isaic has a community of like-minded teens who cheer him on and for whom he also provides support and encouragement on the water. He has a team.
Children and teens age five to 18 — from all walks of life and different levels of skill — learn to wakeboard at Nona Adventure Park. In fact, two teens recently competed in a professional competition sponsored by Red Bull in Lithuania.
“The kids and parents have all bonded and we’re a community now within this larger Lake Nona community,” says Hill. “We’re all traveling together to Chicago for a competition next week and are looking forward to next month’s trip to London.”
Hill says the team will represent the United States at the Nautique competition at the Liquid Leisure Park in Windsor on July 16 and 17. The team is composed of wakeboarders from other locations, including Nona Adventure Park’s partner wakeboarding facilities in Lakeland and Miami.
Going to this competition will put Nona Adventure Park athletes, including Isaic, on the sport’s world stage. But it’s about more than just that. “[This trip] is going to open up a whole new world for these kids, not just for sponsorships, mentors and all kinds of athletic opportunities, but also culturally and historically,” Hill says.
The competition is more than just a two-day event. Isaic and his teammates will travel across the Atlantic two weeks prior to the competition to acclimate to the course, practice with pros and finesse their tricks.
The parents and team have also organized several fundraising events, including a “Wake-a-thon,” which the team held on Mother’s Day. Donors sponsored a rider for a certain dollar amount per lap they completed. Donations can also be made directly to the team at USAWakeboarding.com. So far, money from donations has been used for Team USA-branded jackets, shirts and other uniforms for the team.
Hill says that if any parents want to get their children involved in wakeboarding at Nona Adventure Park, she suggests beginner’s lessons that give children the ability to understand how to stay under a cable and work on their form. “If your child wants to keep learning, there are plenty of amazing people who give individual lessons at Nona Adventure Park, and the summer camps are amazing,” she says.
The main thing Isaic has gained from wakeboarding, Hill says, is confidence. “It has really helped him and other kids to become more independent and build confidence in themselves,” she says. “When they try a trick and they fail, they continue and try again. To have your teammates on the dock screaming for you, encouraging you to get back up and do it again, that’s what being a team is all about.”
Nona Adventure Park is just one of the world-class training facilities Lake Nona has to offer for athletes and amateurs looking to harness their skills. Others include the U.S. Tennis Association USTA (delete U.S. Tennis) National Campus, Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Drive Shack, the beach volleyball courts at Boxi Park and XL Soccer.