Home' Nonahood News : NONA 020116 Contents EMILY with her husband, Kevin, and her children Hope and Noah.
The Nonahood is filled with very unique, accomplished, interesting and heroic
people. Each month, we will sit down with one of these people and interview
them. This month, we had the honor of speaking with Emily Copeland-Durham.
She was a professional wakeboarder for 16 years, won four ESPN X Games Med-
als, and much more.
What do you enjoy most about living in our
We have no family here, but we feel like we have fam-
ily within our community. We just love the people we’re
around and our friends, so that’s really why we like it.
Why did you move to the Nonahood?
Well, I think the big draw for us first was some of our
closest friends, the Murrays, live in the Lake Nona
area. We actually moved in with them when we first
moved here from Colorado, and we just kind of got
to know the community. I just love the small feel, it
was kind of a small town in a big city, and that’s why
we liked it. We (later) moved (back) to Colorado, and
then we moved back (here) and we knew that this was
where we were going to buy a home. That’s how we
fell in love with Lake Nona.
How long have you lived here?
I’ve lived in Lake Nona for a little over 6 years.
How do you feel about all of the new devel-
opment in the Nonahood?
New growth is always good, just better value for our
homes, and there’s going to be more stores and more
restaurants I’m kind of excited about. I feel like I’ve been
eating at the same restaurants for awhile, so I’m excited
for new places. Starbucks, that was exciting! At the same
time, the traffic is not that fun and, honestly, that’s kind
of why we just chose to come out here to Isle of Pines,
because we just like the quietness of it, and then we can
just hop on 417 and it’s convenient to go anywhere.
What was your family life/upbringing like?
My family growing up was definitely really strong.
I have a brother and a sister, and my parents have
been married for over 40 years, which I know is rare.
I grew up actually in Colorado, and my faith is a huge
part of my life. I was rooted in faith from a child all
the way to now as an adult, and I feel like that is what
keeps my family the strongest, is just being rooted in
God. I’m not close (in proximity) to my family now,
but yet, it never feels like I’m far. I just am so thankful
for that foundation my parents set me up in.
Were you heavily involved in sports?
Yeah, I was always involved in sports. I started
out with gymnastics, and did that for about 6 or 7
years,competitively. I feel like gymnastics really pre-
pared to excel in wakeboarding.
When did you begin wakeboarding?
I was 12 years old when I started. I picked up a wake-
board and I never put it down.
What brought you into the world of wake-
My brother, actually, and my sister both wakeboarded.
My brother competed professionally, and he’s the rea-
son I even got into the sport. He coached me for years.
He’s always been pushing me.
What is the greatest feeling you have ever
had as a wakeboarder?
That feeling of learning a new trick is always fun.
Whenever you’re doing anything in life, if you learn
something new or you excel at something, it makes it
better. It makes you want more, so I always like learn-
ing a new thing, even if it was just a small 180 or some-
thing that’s pretty simple. Pushing myself to the next
level was always a great feeling.
X Games probably...winning the X Games. I have four
X Games medals, but winning that gold, I mean, that
was pretty awesome! It’s very recognized in the world.
It was this accomplishment that I had worked for re-
ally hard, and I already had 2 X Games medals but I
hadn’t gotten a gold yet.
Outside of being a mother and a wife, what is
the personal accomplishment you are most
For me personally, I’ve always felt proud to have been fit.
I’ve always taken my career in wakeboarding super se-
rious, and feel cross-training is why I had a really long
career. It’s not even about physique and how I look, but
it’s just about feeling good and being strong. I like to feel
strong, and I feel it prevents me a lot from injuries in
wakeboarding, which is huge.
What is the professional accomplishment you
are most proud of?
Having a long career in wakeboarding, a 16-year ca-
reer. I would have never thought when I started wake-
boarding that I would still have been doing it in my
30s. Staying at the top for that many years too, always
being in the top 5 for that long. From year one, my
rookie year, I won the US Pro tour, and was Rookie of
the Year in 1999, then I continued to stay pretty much
in the top 5 through my entire career.
Has the life of a professional wakeboarder
allowed you to visit different and unique
Absolutely, I’ve gotten to travel all over the world, and
it was fun. I’ve been to China a couple times, Singa-
pore, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, lots of places in
Europe, and Mexico. Being sponsored by Club Med,
a resort company out of France, I got to travel a lot
with them. I would show up, shake hands, (sign) au-
tographs, and hang out at a resort. It was awesome!
Those were the glory days!
One that sticks out in my mind is New Zealand; it is
probably one of my favorite countries I’ve been to. It
was really short, I was only there for 3 or 4 days, but
it’s just a gorgeous place. Kevin and I were recently
married, and he got to go with me... like a second
honeymoon, in a way. Yeah. So I love New Zealand, I
would go back there.
Did your professional life change after hav-
Yeah. For sure! I just wasn’t as strong physically as
I’d been before, you know. My core wasn’t as strong...
then I had more injuries, which was really challeng-
ing. I first started out after giving birth... hurting my
back, and then I hurt my ACL, I had ACL reconstruc-
tion surgery. But, I would never trade it. That was my
dream to have a baby, more so than wakeboarding.
Do your children wakeboard?
Hope does, she is 6, and she’s been wakeboarding since
she was 2....Hope’s my little daredevil. Noah has not
yet, I’ve held him before but he’s never wakeboarded
by himself....He is two months.
How much wakeboarding do you get in these
days on a professional level?
I’m not competing anymore, so I would not say I’m
a professional at this point. This is my 2nd season I
haven’t competed, but I wakeboard pretty regularly
in the summer. We do a lot of kids’ camps. We trav-
el around in that huge RV out there, doing outreach
events for kids. We take them water skiing and wake-
boarding. They’re usually inner-city kids and have
never done it before. I do a show, a demo, and I tell
them about Jesus at the end of it, so it’s pretty cool....
I’ve still got most of my tricks, and most people are
like, why aren’t you competing, but it’s just not the life
that I really want anymore. I’m happy being at home,
being with my kids, hanging out, you know, being a
mom....I don’t want to travel as much. Honestly, the
day-to-day practice that I had to put in was so time-
consuming that it was just hard on my life.
I had won every title I wanted to win. I’d won the X
Games, the World Championship, the Nationals, the
Pro Tour, and World Cup....Every single competition
that there was I had won. I felt accomplished, and it
was a good time to walk away. I wanted to be leaving
at a good mark, and I was still that person that they
(other competitors) were nervous about me being in
their heat....It was the right timing for me.
If you were given the opportunity to go back
in time and do something different to posi-
tively impact your career as a professional
wakeboarder, what would you do?
That’s a tough question. I would enjoy that mo-
ment more... be in the moment. I look back now,
that time was so awesome. I got to travel across the
world, but I remember at the time I would think, I
do not want to get on another flight...living out of
a suitcase for 6 months. If I could go back, I would
continued on page 19
10 FEBRUARY 2016
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