Eithan Osborne: Why School Matters

Wave hunting through Ventura and Santa Barbara
Eithan Osborne. Photo: Ben Ginsberg

Today's aspiring professional surfer doesn't have what would be considered a "normal" childhood. Instead, they have a job — and that job is to go surfing. As is the trend in all sports, kids are getting very serious about surfing from a very young age. They're hiring coaches that train them like NFL draft picks. They're getting love (synonymous, in this case, with "money") from major sponsors. And to the delight of most kids, they're getting out of the classroom and into a homeschool program. This is the norm, and apparently the blueprint for the aspiring pro surfer and his or her family to follow. However, there are still a select few who choose to follow a different path. It's a more traditional path, and one that's full of pencil shavings, late bells and the lucky third period date. Ventura's Eithan Osborne is one of the few who have opted to take the road less traveled and for him, that has made all the difference. —Dayton Silva

SURFING: You’ve been attending school your entire life, never homeschooled. What grade are you in?
Eithan Osborne: Right now, I'm a freshman at Ventura High School.

If it were up to you, would you continue going to school over homeschooling?
I would definitely stay in school. Homeschooling just seems boring to me. You don't really have any friends to talk to or mess around with, and you're just sitting in front the computer all day. Going to school everyday and having that structure makes me do my schoolwork and I love having that social life.

Do you ever feel like you're at a disadvantage going to school?
I don't think it's that much of a disadvantage. All my homeschooled friends from Ventura basically have the same schedule as me. They might be able to surf for a little bit longer in the mornings, but they usually only get two sessions a day just like I do. Sometimes they'll even text me to give them a surf report when I'm the one that's in regular school.

What's the biggest difference you see between home school and normal school?
I could see how you could just coast through in homeschool. You have a computer in front of you and could always just Google whatever you need to know. I can be pretty lazy, so that's probably what I would do [laughs]. Going to school helps me to actually learn things, and it also gives me a sense of respect for my teachers. Learning to do what you're told and listening to your superiors just prepares you for life in general, because one day you'll most likely have a boss telling you what to do.

With surfing being such a big part of your life, how does school balance things out?
It definitely helps me. Going to school allows me get my mind away from surfing sometimes. If you just surfed all day and it was all that you thought about, you wouldn't have any interest in social life and I bet you’d burn out pretty quick. School gives me that good balance of doing things other than just surfing.

Do you think it will come to a point where you have to decide between surfing and attending school?
I see that happening in a few years for me. I'm going to start doing all the Pro Juniors so I'll be traveling a lot more. I'd like to stay in school for as long as I can though. I have good grades and I work hard. Even though professional surfing is a goal of mine for the future, getting a good education is still really important to me.