Ellie-Jean Coffey takes a sip of her vanilla latte. Her hair is blonde, her skin sun-kissed and her eyes are as bright as the California sky. "We don't have coffee like this in Australia," she says in her bubbly accent, before moving on to tell me about her background.
Ellie grew up in a multimillion-dollar home in Sydney. Surplus cash, few real problems. Everything seemed perfect until Ellie's mother suffered a tragic skateboarding accident. After her recovery, the family decided to leave their lavish home in the city and move into a bus. At 11 years old, Ellie, along with her mom, dad and four younger siblings, traded their luxurious life for the open road, exploring Australia's vast coastline. A simpler existence. This is when Ellie found her passion for surfing and her passion for life.
"Ever since [my family] has been traveling in the bus, we've become best friends and we all know that what we went through in Sydney bands us together. We all understand the importance of family and love."
Ellie and her family have now taken their travels worldwide. She's here in California for the US Open and the newly added Paul Mitchell Supergirl 6-star Pro. Then it's off to Europe to finish out the season before returning to the Gold Coast. Ellie will return with plenty of perspective.
"I look at people who still live in Sydney and I wonder what I would be like," she muses, sipping her coffee. "I wonder if I'd be this happy, or this high on life, if I still lived there. I think my child-hood has been one of the best I could ever ask for."