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Champion Attitude

Champion Attitude

Alexa Score 12 is a professional wakeboarder and cancer survivor.

Summer 2014

At the age of 16, the former World Wakeboard Association national amateur champion experienced a major life challenge when she was diagnosed with leukemia. But instead of giving up on her dreams of become a professional athlete, Score used the illness to fuel her drive to achieve.

Overcoming Illness

“Leukemia has changed my life in a number of ways physically and emotionally, but for the most part my attitude hasn’t changed. I’ve always been a positive person and done my best not to allow things that are out of my control get me down. Moving forward, the only things I can control are my reactions and my mentality. Physically, I have to deal with a number of challenges, including bone pain, fatigue and various other side effects, but mentally my cancer journey has only reinforced my outlook on life. Leukemia has also strengthened the relationships I have with the family and friends who truly care, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Wakeboarding Became My Passion

“I grew up on a beautiful lake in Minnesota, and although our summer is a short three months, I spent every moment possible on the water. Watersports are huge in the Midwest, and I enjoyed doing all of them — water skiing, swimming, wakeboarding, fishing, etc. So, I guess my love for wakeboarding isn’t strictly about the sport, but has just as much to do with being on the water and the lifestyle that comes with it.”

“Though I enjoyed the sport since the first time I tried it at age nine, my passion for wakeboarding really took off when I was 15 when I began focusing more on wakeboarding and less on the other watersports I enjoyed.”

“However, there was never one particular moment that defined my wake career. My relationship with the sport was more of a love that continued to progress over time rather than one defining moment in which everything changed. The most notable milestone in my career was probably winning the amateur women’s national title at the WWA Nationals in 2011. I didn’t grow up competing like many of the other pro wakeboarders, so winning a contest of this caliber with little to no previous contest experience reassured me that I have what it takes to be successful in the sport.”

How Sport Can Heal

“Besides helping keep my body strong and physically fit, wakeboarding has been a great emotional outlet and motivation tool. When I was first diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 16, I immediately set my sights at getting healthy enough to move to Florida and wakeboard year-round. Having that goal at that time allowed me to focus on the future (though I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there), and to remain motivated to work hard through my recovery. In a way my goal was a distraction from the cancer and all of the pain and negativity that came with it. I was not going to let anything get in the way of achieving my aspirations. Today when I ride I’m able to escape from emotional or mental stress. When I’m on the water, I become immersed in the moment and can’t focus on anything besides pushing my riding and enjoying those around me.”

The Takeaway

“My biggest piece of advice to others would be to constantly make an effort not to make reasonable excuses. Everyone faces challenges throughout their lives, and though some may be more significant than others, we can all make reasonable excuses not to do something — not to be responsible for ourselves — not to work hard. It’s amazing the things that people can accomplish when they stop wasting energy by making excuses and instead move forward by doing the very best they can within their situation. The only time challenges hold people back in life is when they allow them to do so.”