WHERE R THEY NOW?: TOPHER BARRETTO

WHERE R THEY NOW?: TOPHER BARRETTO

📅21 November 2013
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Name: Topher BarrettoTopher

Sport(s): Former Jetski Pro Racer

Current:  motor sports, cycling (road/mountain), CrossFit, muay thai, yoga and snowboarding during winter

High School:  wrestling, track and field and soccer

Occupation:  entrepreneur

Accomplishments:

–       1997 Slalom World Record holder (held for several years)

–       1998 Expert Ski World Champion

–       2000 Expert Ski US National Champion

–       2000 Expert Ski World Champion

–       2001 Thailand Kings Cup 4th place

GSPN: It’s been a while since Guam sports fans heard the name Topher. What do you want the younger generation to remember most about you?

Topher: I would like to be remembered as a person that accomplished a lot in his sport and helped both grow the racing community in Guam and Guam’s place in the international community.

GSPN: You were one of the first ‘pro athletes’ coming out of Guam. When did that status hit you that you were a professional at your sport of jet ski racing?

Topher: I’m not sure that it ever “hit” me. I started racing and traveling at such a young age that the lifestyle has always seemed “normal” to me.  I started racing at 12-yrs-old and my first professional race was at the World Finals in Lake Havasu City, AZ when I was 15-yrs-old: basically only a three-year gap. I was never really aware of the status aspect of my success (especially at that age), the racing has always been about the hard work that goes into performing your best and the love of the sport for me.

GSPN: How has the sport of jet skiing changed on Guam and in the nation?

Topher: The sport has gone through a lot of changes around the world.  In the U.S. there are so many restrictions related to age it is very difficult for kids to race at a young age, where as in Europe and other countries the restrictions are no where near as tough, so they have more competitive, experienced athletes in each age class.  The other difference is in the cost of competition. Prices for personal watercraft have gone up substantially because of the stringent emission laws, making the sport much harder to participate in for all but the wealthiest competitors. In all, the increased age requirements and the increased cost have caused the participation in the industry to decrease.

GSPN: What have you been up to since ending your pro career?Topher Barretto

Topher: My career ended in 2002 after I sustained two major injuries to my back and neck that made it impossible to compete without being in constant pain. It was a difficult decision to end my career but in the end I decided it would be unfair to keep racing and asking for the support of my sponsors, race team, family, friends and the island as a whole if I could no longer perform at 100%.

After I retired from racing I faced the same struggle many people do when they’ve had success at something early on in their life: the question “Now What?”. I had to think long and hard about what I could take from racing that could be transferred to the rest of my life, something that would allow me to build off the skills I learned in racing and was passionate about.  In the end I realized that one of the most valuable things I learned from my racing career was that 99% of performance comes from hard work and determination, and that the skills I used to become a professional athlete are something I could pass on to others, whether it is just to live their lives in better health, or to help them achieve their own professional athletic aspirations.

With that goal in mind, I looked around Guam and saw that an unfortunate consequence of this decision was that I was going to have to leave the island to get the experience I needed to learn athletics as a business. I moved to what most people consider the global heart of the fitness industry, Los Angeles, in 2005 and started working the 60-80 hour weeks that are standard for the industry there. Over my six years there I worked my way up from the bottom: starting as a Front Desk customer service rep and ending as the General Manager for one of their largest and highest grossing facilities in 2011.

In 2011 it became clear that I had developed the requisite skills I came to the U.S. to acquire, and that it was time to make my way back to my home in Guam. Anyone who follows me on Facebook or Instagram (@tophers_in_transit) knows I took the LONG way back! I’ve always had a passion for travel and knew at some point I would come back to Guam and help build up the island community, so for the past couple of years I’ve made a point of traveling around the world and spending time with as many new and different people as possible. One of the most valuable things my racing experience taught me is that there are always different ways of seeing or doing things in the same field or industry, and that what I may know may not be the best, so during my trips (no matter where I am) I make sure to pay close attention to what other countries do well and evaluate how the idea could be adapted and brought back to Guam. Now as you know I am back and ready to start, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Topher Barretto 2GSPN: You are looking into a unique entrepreneurial endeavor on Guam now. How did your vision come about?

Topher: It started out foremost as a desire to utilize the skills I learned racing to help others, and over the years as I’ve garnered more experience working and traveling the actual business ideas themselves have come together organically. These are exciting times for Guam as we re-evaluate the island’s future and as global trends like “localism” and renewed interest in traditional culture take root here.

GSPN: How much of your drive, conditioning and focus of your athletic career carries over to what your passion is now?

Topher: What I am pursuing now is the logical extension of ALL of my drive, conditioning and focus. As a professional athlete, your success is directly related to how thoroughly you prepare, the amount of determination you have in reaching your goal and how you pursue that goal day in and day out. What I am passionate about now is teaching other people to recognize and develop these skills that are inherent in all of us and apply them in seeking success and health in their own lives.

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