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To some, kiteboarding is a sport that allows a person to have fun on the water with friends. To others, it's a lifestyle.

Anthony DeFilippo, president of Knight Kiteboarding, is a lifer in the sport who describes it as a means of spreading the feeling of gliding freely across the water to anyone he can sink his philosophies into.

"Just getting out there and riding and just being on the water and being fully immersed in nature, I know it sounds really hippie, but it's a really exhilarating feeling," the senior mechanical engineering major said. "Being hauled across the surface of the water by nothing more than a kite and harnessing the elements of Mother Nature is just a really, really cool feeling.

"The sport just gives me the ability to view the world from a perspective that most people can't observe it from."

DeFilippo, who has been a kiteboarding instructor for almost five years and owns a kite repair shop in Cocoa Beach, helped Knight Kiteboarding place second at the Collegiate Kiteboarding Association National Championships in Outer Banks, North Carolina, on Saturday.

A hybrid between surfing and wakeboarding, kiteboarding is a sport DeFilippo hopes to pass along to others who cross his path.

"By being an instructor, it's almost like being an ambassador of the sport," he said. "Having the opportunity to work with newcomers to the sport, being able to share the excitement for the sport and share that same passion that I have of just being on the water experiencing kiteboarding."

For another member of UCF's kiteboarding club, kiteboarding is a step to the beginning of a career in the watersports industry.

"It definitely felt good to be up there representing the school," said Kit Fisher, a junior business administration major who joined the club fall 2014. "Of all the other school representation there, we had the biggest.

"I just hope it raises awareness and brings more people into the club."

Fisher, who placed fifth overall at nationals, has only been kiteboarding for about two years, but cemented his love for the watersports world years ago when he began surfing.

"You meet so many people you never would have met, and you'll go places you never would have thought you'd travel to," he said. "I want to stay inside the watersports industry and just continue to ride and travel."

Kiteboarding started as a way to pass the time at the beach for some members, but eventually grew into something more meaningful.

"I've done a little bit of surfing [and] a little bit of wakeboarding. Nothing serious, never competitive or anything like that, just very casual," said Ben Bazata, vice president of Knight Kiteboarding and senior industrial engineering major. "I had a friend who was into it. He talked me into trying and [it] took off from there.

"I like the camaraderie of it, but also the solo nature of the sport. The fact that once you're out and riding, it's all on you, but there's a really big community out there to support you and to help you learn."

Fisher, who became a surf instructor before becoming a kiteboarding instructor, got his feet wet in the sport a bit differently than teammate Bazata.

"[I] needed something else to do when there were no waves and there was wind," Fisher said. "It's a really welcoming group of people, and it's a judgment-free zone, and nobody should be discouraged from trying to get into it because of their skill level."

With $60 dues for a year, Knight Kiteboarding provides boards, kites and all of the necessary gear for its members. But the camaraderie among members is a priceless entity that many have grown to enjoy.

"I'd definitely have to say that kiteboarding has changed my life," DeFilippo said. "Without it, I probably wouldn't be doing any other sport. I'd be sitting around, probably playing video games all day or something."

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Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JHeil11 or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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