Surfing Heroes

The crew around me is sleeping in, worn out from 20 sessions of surfing and sun from Pismo Beach, California to Ventura and back up to Santa Cruz in a week. We’ve surfed, toured, walked, exercised, camped, vacationed, enjoyed long conversations and surfed some more.

This morning I am in a reflecting mood of Santa Cruz last year to this year. We stood at Steamer Lane last night at sunset and talked to my oldest son about the competition last year. Showing where different people walked or jumped into the water. Last year my youngest son could not paddle to the outside without help or a coach. He was barely 12. We were so green.

Still green. Kooks you might call us, if you say it nice enough. We had spent the fall learning to surf and meeting all sorts of surfers that traveled to Oregon to our Nelscott Reef. Our coach introduced us to several surfers here in Santa Cruz, names we remembered when we got home, looked them up, and went – “Oh! I’m glad I didn’t know that when I met them or I’d have been nervous.”

A year later, we’ve gotten to know our local community better. Each surfer investing into our family. We have gotten to know each one, their history, their family, their passion. The passion and stoke leaks out and pours into my boys. Pours into me.

Yesterday walking around Santa Cruz the Mavericks was on every screen with live stream. People in awe of these big wave surfers. The swell was pretty high for this area and we received a few comments about ‘being brave’ for going out today. Jon and Nate just kinda looked at them weird. It’s all relative – the small of Ventura this week– compared to the active churning of our Central Oregon Coast.


We spent time yesterday looking intentionally at the spots filmed on the Chasing Mavericks movie. If I said that Jon has watched it 458 times, it might not be enough. I’m pretty sure he has watched it 4-5 times this week. He’ll watch it on every car drive on his kindle. Every line is memorized, every scene etched on his memory. You might think he wants to be Jay Moriarity. Or that he wants to be a big wave surfer. But I don’t think that is the draw.

He sees himself in Jay. He sees his coaches in Frosty. Jon and Nate and I are lucky. We don’t just have a Frosty. We have a Keith, Jeremy, Tim, Ross, Tyler, Muti, Shelby, Mattie, DaveO, Jason, Eric, Lee, Shane, Sean, Shawn, Waterman, Doug, Jeff, Mike,  – and others. We have a community of folks that want to flame the stoke they see in the boys. They call and text and ask them to surf. We show up at dawn patrol and are welcomed into the water. For an 11, 12, 13 year old boy? To be taken under the wing of these guys? Each one uniquely different. Unique styles and spirits.


Some pour into the boys Spiritually – Jeremy, Tim, Tyler, Doug, Jason, Tom. The balance of the Ocean and the Lord is breath taking. Keep it humble. Keep it simple. Keep it joyful. Be an ambassador of Stoke. Share the joy of our coast. Share the joy of the Lord. Share. What they put in, they expect us to give out.

Jeremy Tyler Cunningham

Others pour into every other area of their lives as well, and have a very special bond – Keith, Ross, Muti, Mattie, Jason. This week we are meeting a young man named Shelby. We were talking about the movie and Jon’s heros. I mentioned that he looks up to Jeremy, Eric and Keith so much – that I almost feel sorry for them. So much to live up to. His feelings so tangled at such a young age. Having someone that young practically worship you must feel weird.

I feel responsible. To balance the stoke. I had this feeling last year. I was just about ready to put the lid on the stoke of surfing in our house. I felt it was getting out of hand. I talked with our coaches on the trip to see what to do about it. Flame it they said, let the boy go, and don’t hold back. After being around ‘our own kind’ for the weekend, I could see that Jon was normal, just a surfer out of surf culture up in Oregon.

This year I am feeling something a bit different. The more we learn and experience, the less green we become. I see different attitudes in surfers. I can see them here. I watch a lot. Always on the beach with an lens in hand. Scanning the horizon and swells. Attitude shines through in the water. If you sit on the outside. If you chase the waves back and forth. How you treat other surfers in and out of the water. I listen to so many conversations on the beach. Hard not to when they are loud and a foot away. And I realize something this weekend.

Our surfers are different. Their attitudes are vastly different. Their motivation more pure. Am I being biased? Probably. Is it because I’ve gotten to know their hearts? Maybe. But in the water, here, there, at Pacific City – we surf differently. Charging. Playing. Jumping. Running up the beach. Football. Fun gear. They are focused on fitness. Knowing the ocean. sharing the stoke, sharing the waves.  It is a brotherhood that I am glad, as a sister, I get to take part in.

My heart’s desire for Jon this year thinking and pondering as we drive home? To be a Jonee. To stay pure. To surf his own style. To love his longboard. To paddle out his weird way. To jump off the wave with a festive twist. To continue to chat it up with surfers in the water and on the land. To love watching surf videos. To have something – surfing – that he can take with him for the rest of his life.

At the end of the day – no matter his occupation or family situation – he can grab a board, run down the beach, and catch a wave.

No, I don’t think that his fascination with the movie is in the celebrity side at all – but rather his identification with Jay, a young surfer, trained by a great surfing athlete, with nothing but wonder on the horizon.


About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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3 Responses to Surfing Heroes

  1. coricox says:

    Love, love, love!!

  2. El Guapo says:

    Sounds like all of you learned (great) things at Surf Camp!

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