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Study. Eat. Sleep. Practice. Repeat. Two St. Edward’s students have turned their lifetime sports passions into part-time careers. And neither of them can be labeled as ordinary.

The Wake Rider

Carolina Rodriguez ’16 seems to defy gravity as she flips and twists and turns on her wakeboard and lands gracefully behind the boat. Her jumps and tricks look second nature, perhaps because she’s been on the water since she started water skiing at age six in Monterrey, Mexico, where she grew up. Rodriguez started wakeboarding when she was 12 and received an invitation to her first national championship in Mexico City when she was 14. As the current Mexican national champion of wakeboarding (and the 2013 world champion), she is a proven competitor.

Carolina Rodriguez ’16 wakeboardingAlthough it can be a challenge to balance her wakeboarding career with academics, she wouldn’t give up on getting a degree. In fact, it was a brand project in an advertising class that helped her sell herself to a potential wakeboarding sponsor. “My education has definitely helped in my career,” the Communication major says. “And sports are risky. You never know when you are going to have an injury. It’s important to rely on your education.”

As she continues to amp up her wakeboarding career, she hopes she can be a role model to other girls who might be interested in an extreme sport. “Get out of your comfort zone,” Rodriguez says. “I love risk, so I try and encourage that in people. It’s just that first step that is the hardest.”

The Wizard

Boxing has always been a family affair for Casey Ramos ’16. His grandfather, father, uncles, brothers and cousins have all been in the ring at some point. Ramos had his first fight just three days before his eighth birthday and is now a professional boxer in the super featherweight category. Ranked in the top 10 in the United States and top 50 in the world, he’s known as “The Wizard,” a nickname given to him by a coach when he worked some magic to pull off a tough win.

Casey Ramos ’16 boxing at the gymThe Economics major fits classes around a schedule of serious workouts: running or spin class in the mornings and strength conditioning and boxing in the afternoons. “The training is something you have to grow to love,” Ramos says. “It’s vigorous. It tears your body down mentally and physically.”

When he’s no longer able to compete, Ramos sees himself coaching or even starting a business in the East Austin neighborhoods of Dove Springs Montopolis, where he grew up. And he says it’s fitting that he’s getting his degree at a university founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross. As a kid, he boxed at the Montopolis Recreation Center, which was started by a Holy Cross priest at Dolores Parish. “The Congregation of Holy Cross has had a lot to do with my entire career and my education — everything,” says Ramos. 

Lisa Thiegs is a freelance writer.