One of the more rewarding aspects of being an ex-pro surfer has to be the multitude of kids that approach me with aspirations of their own and questions on their mind that need answering. Ryan is a 9th grade student from Virginia who I signed an autograph for at a Coastal Edge shop promo with Vans last year. He recently contacted me through social networking with a few questions about professional surfing. The following are a few excerpts from that exchange.
Ryan: Does every professional surfer begin surfing at a very early age?
Me: The majority do, but landlocked Chicago native Pat O’Connell didn’t take up surfing until he moved to southern California as a teenager. And he still became one of the world’s best in a very short period of time.
Ryan: I have a younger brother too. Did having a younger brother being a professional surfer, help you or hurt you?
Me: Having Cory around did nothing but help me over the years. We may be very similar in many of our likes and dislikes, but our brains function very differently. Cory has always been there to help me in many areas of my life that I haven’t fully grasped as easily as he has. And vice versa.
Ryan: What is it like traveling around the world surfing?
Me: The most amazing, educational experience you could ever imagine. Of course surfing incredible waves in beautiful settings is the main attraction for all surfers. But, if you take the time to look at the culture and people around you, that is when real growth as a person occurs. Watching the world news in the comfort of your own living room is entirely different from seeing how the world operates firsthand.
Ryan: Would you recommend pursuing surfing as a job to kids, or your own kids?
Me: Surfing is a lifestyle first and foremost. Surfing as a sport offers a means to turn your passion into a career. As long as you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, there is no reason to not follow your dreams. Especially if that involves more time in and around the water enjoying the lifestyle part of surfing that will be around a lot longer than the sport/job part. I will tell my kids the very same thing.
Ryan: Thanks Shea! If you are here for ECSC’s again this year would you be able to watch my heat?
Shea: I can’t promise anything now, but if I’m there and my scheduling permits, I wouldn’t mind at all.