Students take club to new heights

Driven by a shared passion for kiteboarding, a diverse group of kiteboard athletes is working together to make the extreme sport accessible to University of Miami students and faculty.

Consisting of alumni and undergraduates, the soon-to-be COSO-recognized organization aims to provide a safe avenue for learning and practicing kiteboarding, as well as organizing social events to build a community of athletes.

The sport has a considerable following on campus, but no formal organization exists. The founders of the new club- Tom Fields, Ian McKeown, Ivan Zorn and Nico Cuetara- met while kiteboarding and soon synthesized ideas to form a club for the sport they love.

“There are many people on campus who I know would love to learn,” said Cuetara, a UM law student and kiteboarder. “The biggest issue is the cost to take lessons.”

The aim of the organization is to make kiteboarding an accessible sport for UM students who may not necessarily be able to afford lessons and equipment for a new hobby.

“We’re working with local schools to provide discounted lessons for students,” said sophomore Fields, a professional kiteboarder.

Fields’ passion and skill for kiteboarding has earned him several prestigious awards, such as first place in the nation’s most prestigious amateur kiteboarding tournament.

By creating this organization, students interested in kiteboarding can take discounted lessons and practice alongside experienced boarders. One of the group’s main objectives is to embrace the kiteboarding culture in South Florida.

“We intend to have barbecues and social events to get the sport out,” said McKeown, a UM graduate student and professional kite board athlete. “We always meet other kiteboarders on the beach, but we want to create an organized network.”

Luckily for UM kiteboarders, the little-known Matheson Hammock beach in Coral Gables is only eight minutes from campus and provides the wind and water necessary for the extreme sport.

“You can ride and shower and be back in class in two hours,” Cuetara said. “You might smell a little but it’s possible.”

But aside from the sport’s cost, the issue of safety is another incentive for creating the organization.

“Kiteboarding is a very safe sport- when you know how to do it,” McKeown said.

The guys say that the sport is entirely girl-friendly and encourage female athletes to consider joining the club when it completes the new organization registration process within the next month.

“In my experience, women are actually better at kiteboarding at first because it takes finesse and agility to fly the kite,” McKeown said. “The industry has gear especially for women according to size. There’s no reason why a woman couldn’t get into it.”

The organization, which is due for approval before COSO chair members this month, should be functioning by November.

“The constitution has been written, registration forms submitted. We just need to go before the presidents of other organizations to receive approval,” said sophomore Zorn, a mechanical engineering major. “Our Facebook group is active and we can always be contacted through there for updates.”

Nicolette Roque may be contacted at