In the past year I have had the pleasure and privilege of being able to meet our customers, get to know them, and welcome them in to my network of friends. I have always been someone that can meet a total stranger and walk away as friends. While getting to know people, I am usually the one asking questions but I rarely open up about myself. Today seems like a good day to turn the tables and give you an inside look of who I am, where I come from, and the journey that has led me to where I am today.
It all starts with my parents. I am very lucky to have a mom and dad that have always supported any decision that I’ve made. My parents have helped guide me through each and every decision with wisdom, knowledge, and love, even if they didn’t agree with them in the first place. One of the hardest things that I have ever had to do was leave home in 8th grade to attend a high school in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. I have not lived at home since that day.
While attending St. Stanislaus College Prep, I was a boarder, meaning that I lived on the campus. While juggling baseball, soccer, and football, I met Dillon Shiyou, Scott Zimmerman, and Josh Chrisman, who on weekends would invite me to their houses to get me off campus.
Summer 2005 was spent on the water behind Dillon’s Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV and Scott’s 21 VLX. Looking back, these three guys were the reason that my passion for wakeboarding ever even started. The summer ended and we were back in school learning away. On Friday August 26th we were informed at the dorms that there was a storm in the gulf of mexico, and the school staff encouraged all the boarders that lived closed by to go home for the weekend. The rest of the students that lived far away, including myself, would pack a bag, grab a mattress and head to the main school building as a precaution. Being that the school was on the waters edge, we had gone through this drill often and didn’t think much of it. On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall taking everything I knew with it. (for that story click this link to my moms blog and click the translate button. http://chefmaca.com/huracan-katrina-empanadas-con-mision/) I decided to continue my studies at St. Stanislaus and be a part of the rebuilding process. The following year I was injured during a soccer match that would put me on the sidelines the rest of the season and at the same time I saw my scholarships vanish. After a tough rebuilding process, I graduated from St. Stanislaus and headed up north to Mississippi State University where I would start my long, yet very exciting collegiate career. As a freshman, many students do not know exactly what they want to focus their studies on. I was no exception, I had no clue what i wanted to study. All I knew is that I was enjoying the college life with my best friend Josh Cameron who I had been roommates with since 8th grade. After two years in school, a not so great GPA, and still no decision on what I wanted to do, I knew it was time to find a way to get motivated, re-energized and focused. That summer, the idea of starting a wakeboard team kept popping in my mind. I knew that wakeboarding could be a great way to manage the stress that school can bring on students. In 2012 the team was formed, what happened next, no one ever expected. In the teams initial year, not only did the team find success and even made it to the national championships, but my grades made huge jump as well. I was making myself finish all the school work I had before being able to take the boat out with the team, or meet up with friends at the lake. Since I have such a deep love for the water, the school work got done in no time and I was out the door headed to the lake. The team became a family, and we even adopted Mrs. Kim Erickson as our official team mom, or you might say she adopted us.For me, Wakeboarding is not just a sport. I found a happy place in wakeboarding where I could clear my mind in a way that the only thing that mattered at the moment was my board cutting through the water. No matter how stressed, angry, sad, or worried I was, I always felt free behind a boat. There was always a new trick that I wanted to learn, and I would keep getting up after every fall to achieve it. There is a sense of accomplishment when you land a trick that you have been working on for some time, that no matter what you do in life. The day of or the day after you land that trick, you will do that job even better. Wakeboarding made me a better student, a better teacher, gave me more patience, and gave me a much needed family and support group that I hadn’t had in my life apart from my parents and sisters. After graduating I knew that I wanted to be doing something that would make me happy no matter what was going on in my life outside of work. When approached about a possible job at Memphis Boat Center, I knew that it was something I had to do. Boats bring peace to me, they drive me, and they play the most important role in making incredible memories. A boat helped me overcome anger and sadness from losing everything I knew and scholarships I dreamed of. If it wasn’t for boats, I don’t know what path my life would have taken, all I know is that I would not have met the people that I hold close to my heart. I would not have had the chance to start a team and family at MSU, that was able to put me back on track with my studies. A boat is not just a toy, its not just a luxury, instead for me, it a part of life and the most important tool that I have to be who I am.
What does a boat mean to you?
For more background stories on Enrique check out the following links. (you might have to use the translator on some)
Finding a passion after injury- http://chefmaca.com/feliz-cumpleanos-enrique/
Mississippi State Student Highlight- http://www.msstate.edu/web/people/detail.php?id=262
Very nice, Enrique. I enjoyed reading this. The world could use a lot more young men like you. I’m looking forward to getting to know you even more. Thanks.