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Surfing Soapbox: Accept challenge, follow your dreams

March 31, 2011|By James Pribram

Editor's note: James Pribram spoke to Thurston Middle School on March 24 about "Follow Your Dreams." Below are some of his thoughts.

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I had but one dream — to one day be a professional surfer, and nothing was going to stand in my way. Nothing.

I knew early on that I would never make it working a so-called regular job. I struggled in the classroom. I wasn't considered the most popular or the best looking. In fact, I was very shy and a little bit lost while in school. However, there was always one place in my life that I could never be touched and that was on the beach and in the waves standing on a surfboard.

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Surfing was and has always been the one constant path in my life. In many ways I believe it saved my life. It gave me an identity. A purpose, a reason to get up every morning and give everything I had to something. The more people said I couldn't, the more the fire inside of me raged. I used every negative thing I ever heard about me as fuel to my fire. I was so dedicated to surfing while growing up. When others were out partying and going to school dances, I was going to sleep early to wake up at 5 every Saturday morning for another contest — and I loved it.

It gave me a real sense of belonging to something, and soon I was making a lot of finals. I believe there were two pivotal chapters in my life.

As a freshman in high school I was failing five out of six classes and even today I am embarrassed to admit it, but sadly it's true. Later that year I would be eligible to make the NSSA National Team, one of the highest honors in amateur surfing, comparable to making an Olympic team; however, true to form, I had to learn the hard way. Although I had the results to make the team, I didn't have the grades. To say that I was crushed would be an understatement. I had a choice to make: either except the challenge and improve my grades, or continue to fail, which was not an option because without making the national team, there was no way that my dream of being a professional surfer would happen. The next year, I made it.

It was one of the proudest moment's of my life.

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