College Of Health & Human Services
The ocean pushed at his already-wobbly legs, the waves shoved him back and forth as he reached for his surfboard. Still, Jake Pacheco didn’t fall; he didn’t let the ocean beat him. It’s an attitude that has helped him to graduate with a master’s degree from Cal State Long Beach despite his cerebral palsy.
Pacheco will walk slowly across the stage to receive his diploma in Kinesiology (Option in Coaching and Student Athlete Development) in the College of Heath and Human Services, taking another step toward his goal of becoming a role model for disabled athletes.
Pacheco said the inclusive attitude he discovered at CSULB helped him excel, enabling him to earn his secondary degree and help with the school’s track and field team. In between studies, Pacheco also learned how to navigate ocean waves. A champion prone surfer (he surfs on his stomach), he also sees himself as something of a champion for the disabled.
“I kind of see this void for disabled athletes, someone to break open the door for them to play sports,” said Pacheco, who also has played soccer and run on U.S. Paralympic teams. “It’s happening, it’s progressing, but it’s slow. I want to break that and create a rush of opportunity.”
Pacheco would like to coach a major-league soccer team after his surfing career. He will be competing in the West Coast Adaptive Surfing championships this month, and possibly onto the international event.