Community service is a priority for surf sports industry pioneer Kim Ball
WEST MAUI – He is a soft-spoken personality that belies a positive inner energy that blankets the island of Maui and particularly warms the Lahaina community. Kim Ball left the plains of Missouri in 1980 and started work as a bartender on Front Street, but he soon became a soulful business entrepreneur and civic leader.
Growing up in the central U.S. plains buoyed by a work ethic, resilience and family values instilled in him by his parents, Ball came to Maui some 40 years ago and has since been on the forefront of several of the unique spiritual and sports-related avenues that serve to define the character of the island.
Kim and his brother, Lindsay, who is the dedicated Complex Area superintendent for Hana, Lahainaluna, Lanai and Molokai with the state Department of Education, were raised by parents who emphasized family and community service.
Mom was a Chinese girl from Hilo who met Dad, a farm boy returning from active duty in the Navy, in college at the University of Missouri.
They defied miscegenation laws that made mixed Asian/White marriages illegal in 12 states at the time -including Missouri – and exchanged vows in Iowa.
“They left a legacy of community service that we try to emulate today,” said Kim.
“Mom was always a strong personality – the only minority in an all-white Nebraska community where Lindsay and I grew up.”
Perhaps the most important part of Kim Ball’s enthusiastic inner strength has been his relationship with Christianity through Kumulani Chapel and its pastor, the energetic positive force of Ricky Ryan.
Ball was introduced to Craig Maisonville in 1984, and in a handshake agreement, the partners started Hi-Tech, a water sports outlet that featured windsurfing equipment.
In the infancy stages at this time, the sport soon took off to send the Valley Isle into a future as one of the elite windsurfing – and all water sports as well – venues in the world. It signaled an unprecedented takeoff to decades of economic vitality that only could be stopped by a viral pandemic.
Aside from his business endeavors and raising three sons – who would all grow up to be contributing success stories in the military, education and business – the senior Ball continued his involvement in wrestling that had begun at the University of Nebraska with a club organization there.
He ended up in the Lahainaluna High School Wrestling Room in 1980 and really hasn’t left since.
Coach Kim birthed the Lahaina Roughnecks wrestling club in 1982 and later the Napili Surfriders in 1984 at the Napilihau Recreation Center. Both clubs have continued to flourish within the Maui Style Wrestling youth program as a pathway to the championship tradition at Lahainaluna.
There have been 13 state individual state champions to come out of that little “rec” center that has been continually renovated through the support of Kumulani Chapel.
The success of the Hi-Tech and Shapers stores has provided the platform to support Maui Style Wrestling, Maui Interscholastic League Surf Championships, surfing contests, windsurfing races, and fishing and diving events.
The surfing contests have been particularly memorable and include the Pohai Na Keiki Nalu “Gather of surf kids,” Ole Longboard Classic and the Vissla/Hi-Tech/Lopez Surfbash, all of which have run for 27 years.
Kim acknowledges his contributions to the community but places more emphasis on being attentive parents and family advocates.
“First of all, I can’t begin to do what I do without Cindy, my supportive wife,” he said. “I think the best legacy we can leave is our family. Bailey is a major in the Air Force and has made eight deployments as a special ops pilot flying combat missions. He and his wife, Traci, have two children, Kalei and Bodhi.
“Cody (number two son) is a furloughed food server at Duke’s, runs the soundboard at Kumulani Chapel at Kapalua and will start EMT classes in August at UH Maui College.
“Blake (youngest son) teaches school in the Houston inner city… is very involved with his church and went on a mission to Zambia last summer. I also have two step-children: Tyler in Seattle and Jessica in Hood River, Oregon, with her six-month-old, Mila,” he continued.
“I’m super blessed to be part of the West Maui family – we have so many great and talented people that really have come alongside us in so many ways. We would be nothing without the support of the community!”