News - Catching Air

Catching Air

Catching Air

The distinction between man and machine blurs as the armor-clad ATV rider throttles the engine. Gloved hands grip the handlebars and forearms shudder with the shock of tearing across undulating sand dunes. The rider conquers shifting crests of sand in a roaring flash of color. A torrent of dust billows in his wake. He grits his teeth, adjusts his grip and steers toward a steep incline. The engine growls as the quad gains speed. Adrenaline surges in anticipation, pumping oxygen into his muscles just as the firing of compressed air and fuel launches the ATV above the horizon.

For a brief moment, the throttle quiets and the silhouette of the rider is suspended against a brilliant blue sky. His feet kick off the pegs and his body stretches out behind him as the 375-pound vehicle soars more than 20 feet in the air. This is big air, and for Seth Fargher ’08, it is a gift from God.

The thrill of freestyle motocross has captivated Fargher ever since his first ATV ride at age three. But he put the thrill on hold to pursue a degree in accounting and business management at GC and then to work as a credit analyst at a bank near Dufur, Oregon, his hometown. Fargher recalls the frustrating 18 months following graduation, “I wasn’t happy at my job, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Seth FargherRather than spin his wheels, Fargher used the diverse skills he’d learned at GC and hustled to make a place for himself in the power sports industry. While still employed, he sought weekend opportunities to freelance as a photojournalist and media marketer. He traveled to events and shows, wrote articles, took photographs and relentlessly networked. He learned everything he could about freestyle motocross and practiced big jumps in his free time.

Doors opened, and God provided. In October 2009 he received an invitation to ride professionally, so he took a leap of faith, packed his 1979 Chevy pick-up and set out for Temecula, California, to pursue his dream. Fargher performed in stunt shows, gained sponsors and toured while mastering new tricks. Even as he caught big air, his faith kept him grounded. He knew the opportunities were God given.

As he gained experience, it wasn’t long before Fargher set his sights on the holy grail of freestyle motocross – the backflip. In July 2010, while practicing the flip at a renowned training facility in Texas, Fargher made a critical mistake.

“I zigged when I should have zagged,” he recalls. “The front of the quad took a nosedive.”

Fargher was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he remained in ICU for 10 days. He broke his scapula, severed his ear canal and fractured his skull.

The ear injury prevented him from flying, so he returned to California by train. Stiff and sore, he struggled to put the pieces of his dream back together. Though he could have given up, Fargher says the perseverance it took to make it through those 18 months after college gave him the tenacity and skills he needed to find a new plan.

The plan he devised – two part-time jobs and continued freelancing – exemplifies an emerging trend known as the “portfolio career,” which mixes freelance, part-time and full-time work. Business experts call talent like Fargher a “slasher” – a journalist/photographer/marketer.

Even when he landed a full-time job, Fargher continued freelancing. His diverse skills and freelance opportunities gave him the flexibility to adjust to life’s zigs and zags. His portfolio career sustained him through a tough job loss and a cross-country move.

He now lives in Mooresville, North Carolina, and works as the marketing and communications manager at JRi Shocks, a suspension company that provides shocks for ATVs, motorcycles, hot rods and NASCAR. His continued freelancing as a photojournalist brings lucrative opportunities, like attending high profile press intros – basically all-expenses paid vacations for media members to experience product launches firsthand as manufacturers unveil new vehicles. Fargher attends and asks questions, takes photos and, of course, test rides.

“Every time I get a chance to go on a press intro, I remember that it wasn’t that long ago I was a kid dreaming about these opportunities,” says Fargher. “Now, I’ve rubbed elbows with my childhood heroes.”

Eighteen months after his accident, Fargher set up his old ramps, took a couple test runs on his quad and then went for it. “The first jump is always the scariest,” he says. Muscle memory took over, and he experienced the thrill once more.

“The journey has definitely been a blessing, and I’ve learned so much through it,” he says. “I know that God has had a hand in my life and continues to. It’s mind blowing.” For Fargher, God’s provision is mind-blowing, just like the thrill of big air.

Seth Fargher

This story was published on June 24, 2014

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