Meet the Student: Gordon Harrison III

NCOAE Headquarters

July 06, 2019

If Gordon Harrison’s name sounds familiar to you, that likely means one of two things: You either know him personally or you’re a fan of the water sport known as wakeboarding.

David “Gordon” Harrison (the third) recently graduated from one of our 19-Day ‘Intensive’ EMT-Basic training courses. And as you probably figured out by now, this native of Caroline County, Va. (who now calls Melbourne Beach, Fla. his home), holds the distinction of being the only professional athlete to enroll in that course — or any course for that matter here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education.

Harrison started wakeboarding as a child and become good enough in high school to be invited by the World Wake Association to join the Jr. Pro Wakeboard Tour. Suffice to say, he’s never looked backward since.

For the uninitiated, wakeboarding is a water-based sport in which the athlete — standing on a short board with foot bindings known as a wakeboard— is towed behind a motorboat across its wake, allowing the athlete to crest the wake for aerial maneuvers. In Harrison’s case, he’s so proficient at wakeboarding that he’s only one of a handful of people on the planet capable of making a living as a professional wakeboarder.

So, what possesses someone living the life of a pro athlete to drop everything and spend 19 days with us in North Carolina preparing to sit to for the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam? That’s what we wanted to know. Here’s what Harrison had to say, in his own words:

NCOAE: Why did you decide to pursue EMT training and certification?

Gordon Harrison III: As my wakeboarding career is beginning to wind down, I’m interested in becoming a full-time firefighter, and that requires EMT training and certification.

NCOAE: Why did you chose The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education for your EMT training?

Harrison: I’ve never been good at school, so when one of the firemen from my area told me about the intensive course NCOAE offers, I knew it was what I needed. I’m the type of person who learns best when fully focused and without distractions. You guys call it intensivefor a reason — it’s long days of learning and practicing for three weeks straight, and it works!

NCOAE: What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking our 19-Day ‘Intensive’ EMT-Basic (EMT-B) training?: 

Harrison: Don’t let the intensive part intimidate you, because it could benefit you if you like to learn the same way I do. You’re learning something new every day and you get to practice and test your new skills every day. The intensive part really works. The other thing I say to anyone considering this course —make sure you want it (EMT training) before taking the course.

NCOAE: What was your favorite part about your NCOAE training?

Harrison: Practicing and testing my new skills on a daily basis and having other fun but serious-minded students to interact and practice with.

NCOAE: What was the least favorite part of your NCOAE training?

Harrison: The long days! It had to be done though, and that’s how I prefer to learn. I would have had a harder time obtaining knowledge like this by attending a class two or even three times a week over a three- to four-month timespan.

NCOAE: 10 years from now, where do you plan to be and what do you see yourself doing?

Harrison: Living on a lake or by the ocean and being employed as a full-time fireman. I say the ocean or a lake because I never plan on allowing the grominside of me (i.e., the young kid) fade away. I’ll always love wakeboarding, and I love to surf and skate too.

Editor’s Note: Check out some of Harrison’s wakeboarding moves by clicking Play on the video below. (We especially like the trick he throws down at the 54-second mark). Enjoy…

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