Riding waves since the age of five, wakeboarder and coach Dave Briscoe might feel more at home on the water than on land. His eerily natural control of the board and uncanny ability to reel off ollies, wake jumps, and surface spins landed him a roll in the movie "H20 Extreme" and propelled him into countless pro tour finals, a European Championship win, and induction into the New Hampshire Sports Hall of Fame.
Though his resume bespeaks wild skills, as a teacher, Dave excels at patience. He loves spreading the word of wakeboarding to novices as well as discussing advanced techniques with seasoned vets.
Between them, Keith St. Onge and David Small hold all three current World Barefoot Water Ski records. Beyond their championship-caliber skills, they cement their positions as true ambassadors of the sport by training the next generation of barefooters at World Barefoot Center. Under the guidance of Keith and David’s personal coach, Gary "Swampy" Bouchard, the center’s instructors walk students through proper stances and basic techniques on dry land before taking small groups for trips skimming across Lake Conine and Lake Rochelle. The expert staff can easily recognize and correct weaknesses in form and recommend waterfront restaurants with loose requirements.
Ross Kellin, owner and head instructor of Champions MMA, knows a thing or two about marital arts. He's not only a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu but a licensed boxing and mixed-martial-arts trainer and manager. His unique perspective of the sport, both in and out of the ring, has raised his team of fighters to become a powerhouse in the industry.
But Kellin, a Lakeland native, doesn't just concentrate on his rising fighters. He also turns his careful attention to kids, offering after-school programs, summer camps, and even birthday parties. And, for clients looking to up their fitness sans cage match, Champions MMA hosts a cardio-kickboxing program that uses Tiger Vascular Boxing Fitness workouts to obliterate calories.
Now pack-free, the cigarette machines inside the Polk Museum of Art have been converted to Art-o-Mats, which distribute original artworks to help jump-start amateur collections. The pieces make fitting keepsakes from the nonprofit museum, whose own collection encompasses everything from pre-Columbian textiles to contemporary work by local artists. Other museum highlights include rare 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints, as well as ceramic plates made by Pablo Picasso that still bear his masterful tomato-sauce stains.
Alongside its core pieces, Polk rotates around 20 exhibitions throughout its nine galleries each year. To further foster Florida's artistic community, the museum hosts plenty of educational opportunities and events, including art classes and fairs that spotlight emerging Central Florida artists.
As a former college cheerleader, Central Florida Athletics' head coach Joe Hart is an expert in tumbling and stunting. At the center, Hart and his coaching staff run the All-Star Cheer program, which teaches students team-building and self-discipline skills along with high kicks that break air molecules in half.
But cheerleading isn't the only discipline that the coaches teach. They also lead a tumbling program that instructs students in everything from basic forward rolls to advanced back tucks. In addition, they helm all-star teams and run summer camps with tumbling, games, swimming, and arts and crafts.
Surrounded by a pastureland of cows, horses, donkeys, and a buffalo, families can bask in the autumn air and the fun afforded by several attractions at The Smith Family Ranch. During the fall season, farmhands turn their acres of corn into a maze, in which guests can challenge their sense of direction and the age-old claim that cornstalks always lean to the west. As ranch guests travel through the maze, others can be entertained with hayrides, pony rides, a pumpkin patch, and a bouncy jumping pillow stationed in the middle of the field. Youngsters can also enjoy trips through a mini maze forged from bales of straw or gaze in awe as ears are launched from the corn cannon, an ancient relic from the days when all warfare ammunition was nutritious.