I was honored by the Patriots Day committee Feb. 5 as Laguna Beach's "Athlete of the Year."
I've won a lot of trophies and awards before but none are more meaningful to me than this one. It sits proudly on the mantelpiece above my fireplace, and no matter how many great places in the world I have been lucky enough to experience, there will never be another place more special to me than Laguna Beach.
Just as there will never be another place I would rather be in the world on a beautiful day than Pearl Street beach, the very beach on which I was raised.
My whole being, vision and spirit was shaped on that beach by those before me. There was a long list of surfers out there before me, including my brother, who inspired me to surf and then one day become a professional.
Today, I dedicate my life to preserving our beaches and oceans. It wasn't something that happened overnight. In fact, in all honesty, it just happened over time, much like anything else, through hard work, desire and dedication. My work perhaps isn't traditional as some may like, but that's not my issue. I do what I do because I believe in it and I want to do it.
I work with a personal trainer twice a week as he puts me through a serious of circuits that leaves me nearly hurling at the end, and I work out on my own another three or four days a week. It's work.
Writing a column is work.
Being involved with marketing meetings with sponsors is also work, as is maintaining three websites, or finishing a book that I have been working on for five years.
You might be asking yourself what has inspired me to write about all this?
Perhaps it's because in 2011 there is still this perception that surfing is more of a beach bum sport than an actual sport.
I would bet that any professional surfer would have a much easier time to adapting to any other sport than another professional athlete would trying the sport of surfing. I will put my money on that any time, any place.
The beach is nothing short of a natural playground for all to enjoy, and that is why I work — yes "work" — extremely hard at preserving them for the next generations.
I want them to be able to dream the same dream that I had of one day being a professional surfer, a sport that kept me away from drugs and other adolescent mistakes.
So thank you, Patriots Day committee, and I will do my very best to honor the award in the best way that I can by leading by example.
JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior Surf.com. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha SchoolofSurfing.com.