“You have to decide who you want to be in life. Then you make decisions throughout the rest of your time on Earth that will either help you achieve your goals or will put your dreams in jeopardy.”
While I might be paraphrasing slightly, and who can really blame me as I was only 8 years old when I heard this quote, these words from my father have been a guiding beacon in every aspect of my existence. Now, when the most successful professional water-skier of all time imparts any kind of wisdom onto an aspiring athlete, most people would assume that the words would not fall on deaf ears. Yet, when that same nine-time world-champion water-skier named Jaret Llewellyn is your father, sometimes you forget how special your family is, and you have to remember never to take them, or their accomplishments, for granted.
You see, in addition to my aforementioned father, I grew up in a family full of world champions. My mother, Britta, was a professional water-skier on the Austrian national team, winning two world titles in her career, and my uncle, Kreg Llewellyn, skied with my father on the Canadian team while also cementing his place in history as the first wakeboard world champion. So, the expectation in the water-ski community was that I would follow in the footsteps of the family legacy.
Yet I didn’t start out a skier; in fact, I was more infatuated with ice hockey for the majority of my adolescence, which was only natural, given my Canadian heritage. My parents never pushed me toward water-skiing, or any sport specifically, and gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as both an athlete and a person in each and every activity I undertook. I firmly believe that my parents’ willingness to allow me to decide for myself about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do was what led me back to the sport of water-skiing.
Many years later, I am putting my best foot forward in an attempt to carve my own path in the Llewellyn legacy. Still, the pressures and expectations that come from such a successful family can carry significant weight. So, when I lose sight of what’s important and forget to focus on what I can control, I am reminded of my mother’s words: “You can only go out there and perform to the best abilities that you are capable of on this day.”
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In the end, we all strive to be the best versions of ourselves today. Whether our best is enough to achieve everything we want isn’t the point. My parents raised me to believe that the act of giving ourselves wholeheartedly to a worthwhile endeavor, namely one that pushes us to the limits of our capabilities, allows us to learn through the process of both success and failure. That process gives us the opportunity to become an improved version of ourselves tomorrow, which is the true meaning of life. —By Dorien Llewellyn, as told to Andrea Gaytan