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July 10, 2014

Wake Journal Publishes Melissa’s Story

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Although wakeboarding has been a challenge to do professionally, it’s been my career for the past 15 years and has been such a blessing. I remember when I was younger, my father would go to work every day at 4 a.m., driving a sand truck so he could get off at 4 p.m. and take us out on the boat. He put every last penny he made into that boat. My brothers and I used to take the battery out of the truck to start the boat, used 50-gallon oil drums as ballast, and ran out of gas on a regular basis. As exhausted as he was after work, he always made sure our family time on the water was fun and positive. My father also made me and my brothers work for everything we ever had. Now, he is retired and plays golf every day with my beautiful mother and has never been happier to see his family succeed, and enjoy every day to the fullest. He tells all his golf friends about his kids, what we do, and how proud he is. Sometimes he exaggerates a bit, but that’s ok; I still am proud of his stories he tells.

I have been a professional wakeboarder over half my life, now 30 years young. I remember when wakeboarding first began. I’m proud to have been a part of what was and what it has evolved into today. It’s so rad to see all the girls killing it, having so much success, and just loving the sport. I couldn’t be happier to see wakeboarding where it is now. I love all the girls. We are all great friends and just love the sport. I hope I have in some way, helped paved the way for the girls to have more opportunity now in our industry. Although I wish I had the giant wakes, cable parks, and accessibility that the riders do now, I would’t change anything about how I grew up riding. The sketchy rails we built on Canyon Lake and the people around me back then made it all happen and come together.

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At this age, it’s crazy that I’ve never felt healthier, stronger, and have been riding better than I ever have. I never thought this is what I would be doing, and definitely not for this long. I thought I was going to be a rocket scientist! I just continue to do what I love and what makes me happy and everything keeps falling into place. I know I will never make a ton of money wakeboarding or enough to retire, but as long as I can enjoy life, I’m not worried about anything else.

I have wanted to progress my riding for the last few years. I had the same boat sponsor for seven years, but due to the economic collapse of the marine industry, I had to start over. I saved enough to buy a 1997 Nautique, but progression was a struggle. The waterskiing community seemed to have struggled with wakeboarding’s growth and popularity since the beginning. I’ve had to be a proponent for sharing the waters of Canyon Lake and working together for all of us to enjoy our time on the water. I recall many incidents of other boaters calling, emailing and contacting my sponsors regarding the large wakes our boats create. Aside from locals like Randall who experience the same dramas, other riders like Watson, Henshaw, Nicola and a few other pros would come out to ride with me and say, “how do you wakeboard like this?” I don’t know… I got good at butter slides and triple ups.

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Ever since my prior boat sponsor and I went separate ways, I’ve tried really hard to secure a new sponsor. It has been hard to get any brand to support anyone in Southern California because of the economy. Combined with the (lack of) accessibility to lakes, and the lack of support from the waterski community on Canyon, it has been nearly impossible. Canyon Lake is one of the hardest places to wakeboard due to politics and the skiing history. Because of this, I spend just as much time skating, surfing, and snowboarding on my down time. I’m proud to be mediocre at all these sports together than just really good at one!

This year Todd Gaughan, Vice President of Marketing from Centurion Boats, called me about a sponsorship opportunity. Todd and the entire Centurion team was stoked on my acceptance, and I was pumped to receive that call. Centurion was so supportive and willing to do anything it took to help me be a new boat owner again. I have never been so motivated to wakeboard than now. With the factory support and Centurion’s push in wakeboarding, I’ve never been more prepared! The wake is huge behind the Enzo FX22, and I have so much more time in the air to take tricks bigger and learn more daily. I may not be the best female wakeboarder in the world today, but I am committed to drive progression and help evolve the sport. I am here to make sure the girls are doing things legit, and enjoying the journey along the way.

I am so lucky to have the most supportive sponsors backing me up. Some of them have been with me from day one, believing in any route I decided to take in my career. I’m really excited for the next few years and seeing what the girls and I can do to continue progress and shape our sport for the future generations.

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