At times I wish I could spend more time at home with family and friends because I feel like I miss out a bunch, but once a year, when the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships come around, all the hard work and sacrifice seem to pay off.
The ISA Juniors is the closest thing to surfing in the Olympics, and for maybe the only time all year it’s a contest that’s not just about my results. It’s one of my favorite contests for one reason: my teammates and I go into the event as a whole with one goal in mind, to win the gold. We travel with each other, stay with each other, and cheer for each other. I am a part of the Hawaii Surf Team, and it’s not just a team, it’s a family.
This year the competition will be held in Ecuador during the ISA’s 50th anniversary. Thirty surfing nations and 300 of the world’s best junior surfers will be competing. Each team is made up of 12 surfers, and the divisions include 18 and Under Boys, 18 and Under Girls, 16 and Under Boys, and 16 and Under girls. Depending on the surf, the contest can take up to eight days to run, which means our team requires strength, endurance, and performance ability to take home the gold.
In 2013 I won the gold for the Women’s Under 18 division in Nicaragua. It was one of the best moments in my life, and I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of my team. We have three coaches that travel with us: Bert Ishimaru, Kahea Hart, and Rainos Hayes. They are all amazing in their own ways. This year’s trip to Ecuador will be my last as ISA World Juniors. I have been on the team for four years now, traveling to Peru (copper medal for team Hawaii), Panama (gold medal for team Hawaii), Nicaragua (silver medal for team Hawaii), and we’ll see what happens this year. No one in surfing history has ever won two gold medals in ISA World Juniors, being my last year in the World Junior Championships I hope to change that.
I love this contest because it always has such an amazing family feel. One of the things growing up for me was that I’ve always had amazing family support from all over the world. Without my family I wouldn’t be the surfer I am today. I grew up on Kauai, and being from such a small island you basically know everyone, so when I come home from competitions I always get a warm welcome home. It’s amazing to know that not only my family backs me, but so does the whole island of Kauai. Being able to represent Hawaii wherever I go is such an honor and I can’t believe that this is my job. It’s an amazing dream come true…and it’s only just begun.