How does one put into words who Leslie Sparkes is and what she has done for the sport of Wakeboarding! She is an integral part of molding what the Ontario Wakeboard and Wakeskate scene is today. She is known for her many contributions to the sport in Ontario and across Canada; From coaching, & running the Ladies Clinics “Sisterhood Sessions”, to being Head Judge for the ROOTS Wakeboard and Wakeskate series, and National events. She has dedicated a lot of time (Blood, sweat and tears) to the sport, all out of love for what Wakeboarding is to many of us; An outlet to push ourselves, spend time with friends & family, and just enjoy the freedom that being out on the water brings..
MC: Name, years riding, board and bindings of choice
LS: Leslie Sparkes, Since I was 18-19. Cable for 6-7 years, boat for 13-14
This year I will be riding the Ronix Quarter Till Midnight 135, great all around/crossover board. Last year I didn`t get a boat board and it sucked lol! I will be using Ronix Limelight boots.
MC: Do you remember the first time you rode a wakeboard? What was it about the experience that had you wanting more?
LS: Yup, I sure do! My brother got a wakeboard for his birthday one year, it had an awesome graphic of a spark plug on it. Not as magical as most first times, but defiantly fun! When I think about that board it still makes me laugh, we actually had it up on the wall at Basecamp for a couple of years. I can`t believe the way the sport has evolved since, but more importantly seeing what we have now I am amazed we didn`t kill ourselves with what we used to shred.
MC: You’ve been riding for a long time, after all these years, what inspires you to get out there and try new tricks?
LS: Oh goodness, its weird cause I have years that I am just not feeling it and challenged cause I can`t learn anything new. Last season was one of my best ever, mostly cause of the drive I had and the group I rolled with. We formed this bulletproof girls crew that just shoved each other to keep banging out progression! We had an absolute blast challenging each other and pushing each other to just keep trying new things. That inspires me, having fun and falling in love with a sport all over again.
MC: What does wakeboarding or the Ontario Wakeboard/Wakeskate scene mean to you?
LS: I have been very fortunate to travel a lot for wakeboarding and be inserted into other scenes. None of them compare to the one we have here. Some of the folks in this scene have been in my life longer than anyone I know. The support system that we have is unreal. Its nice to have a scene that is dedicated to growth and ensuring all riders have an outlet to show their talent. Not to mention you can go to any of the local parks any night of the week and your guaranteed to see a few great friends!!
MC: Who’s your favourite rider to watch ride right now?
LS: I always love watching Gav Hicks ride, as well I have a pretty huge girl crushes on Erika Langman and Dani Brown.
MC: Who do you believe is the most underrated rider right now? Internationally or locally?
LS: This is a hard question to answer cause there are A LOT, myself included. The wake scene is hard cause there isn`t too much to go around.
MC: Last year, you got a bunch of new tricks under your belt, what’s your fav trick right now? And what tricks do you have your sights on in 2016?
LS: Hummmmmm, my favorite moment last year was landing a back 5. Austin (Farr) was driving and we both just totally freaked out! Then I did it again, we were both going mental. It was one of my favorite moments of all time, and I got to share it with my ‘lil bro.
MC: For as long as I have known you, you have been an ambassador for Women in the sport of wakeboarding. Every summer, you’ve been running a program for women called “Sisterhood Sessions”. For someone out there who has never heard about it, what is it, and why did you start the program?
LS: I grew up at the skateparks and hanging out with the boys, being the only one there I always found it hard to learn stuff or fail. I wanted to create an environment that made girls learning feel safe. Where they Felt like they could try stuff and not be afraid to fail. It all started at Basecamp and once we shut down I turned the program into an all girls cable clinic. Based out of The Ranch Wakepark we run an evening program for girls to come learn to shred, create goals and meet a lady wolf pack to ride with. We provide one on one coaching with all female coaches and cheer our hearts out. It is so amazing to watch these girls. No better feeling then teaching a new trick and seeing someone so stoked, I love it!
MC: In the winter months/ wakeboarding off seasons, what do you spending your time doing? Or enjoy doing?
LS: I am obsessed with Cross fit, I have been doing it for over a year and I can`t even express the changes it has had on my riding, body and mental state. I also love my dogs and spending time hiking with them.
MC: For someone out there looking to move up in the ranks in the Wakeboarding scene, what advise can you give them?
LS: GET INVOLVED! Ask if you can help at events, learn to judge, learn the ropes. I did and I have so much to show for it.
MC: Who is the most influential person in your life right now?
LS: I have had a really rough year, the people I look up to are those that stood with me through it. The people that have loved me no matter how hard I have pushed them away, and sat with me while I tried to work through it. There is something to say for a girl that always hung with the boys growing up, I wouldn`t trade my “ATEAM” for anything (those girls know who they are).
MC: Alright, I gotta ask; Anchors and Helm Wheels, what is your fascination with the sea, and nautical symbols?
LS: My dad! I love boats, I sailed a good portion of my childhood and have always loved the beach, the sea and boats. They make me think of all the great men I have had in my life, my Dad and my Grandpa’s.
MC: You got a bunch of tattoos. which one means the most to you and why?
LS: I have an Anchor tattoo on my foot. It is my family, the Anchor is my dad who keeps me grounded, the diamond is my mom and there are two roses for my brother and I. I also got it with my best friend who recently passed away. So it means even more now. I look at it and see real family, the people I love and loved most in the world!
MC: What’s one thing you cant live without on a daily basis?
LS: A nap and netflix. It used to be diet pepsi but I am 1 year clean.
MC: If you had to choose, PB and J or PB and Banana Sandwich?
LS: Neither, I can`t eat peanut butter 🙁
MC: What song on your Ipod right now gets you pumped?
LS: Anyone who knows me knows I love 90’s Rap! Anything Dr Dre or Ice Cube right now.
MC: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
LS: I am about to be an Aunt and I can’t friggin wait!! Oh and I am strong as heck!!
MC: Any Last words?
Never let a day go by where you don`t tell your friends you love them, don`t stay mad and never put things off.