Location: Reno, Nevada
Years Surfing: 9 years
Fave Board: MacSki Waveski
When did you start surfing? In 2000 I was out backcountry snowboarding with some friends when I decided to try my first backflip. I wasn't aware of the rocks underneath the snow and I also over rotated the backflip landing back first on ricks just 2 feet under the snow. I was instantly paralyzed from the waist down. After recovering I learned about the sports of wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing. I ended up having a 12 year long career in both sports that would take me around world training and competing for the US Paralympic Team. In 2014 I had a bad crash in a ski race in Sochi Russia which lead me to taking a much needed vacation to Hawaii. While I was there, I learned of a program called Accessurf that take people with disabilities surfing! I caught my first wave on a waveski and it changed my life!
After that, I moved to southern California and pursued surfing with a fiery passion. I love the process of figuring out a new sport and the ocean presented such a challenge, she's always changing! I've been surfing now for 9 years and have made a lot of progress. I am forever grateful for surfing breathing new passion into my life!
What is your philosophy on surfing? "Surf the wave you are given"- I learned early on that paddling for waves that aren't yours is futile (can also be applied to relationships hahah). The more you know about a break and how to read waves, the calmer and more patient you can be when waiting on your wave to come.
How has your surfing life in the water affected the rest of your life on land? Surfing has given me an athletic outlet at a time when I needed it the most. I had just retired from ski racing and was and always will be lost with out the ability to move and express myself athletically. I could be having a terrible day or feeling depressed and then go for a surf and instantly feel hopeful and optimistic about some of the most trying things in life.
What actions are you taking to protect our oceans? I have found that you can reuse plastic bags so easily. Silicone ziplock bags are amazing. We just need to try a little harder and think a little differently. Overall it’s about being conscious about your plastic intake. Reusable water bottles and simply straws are some of my favorite switches. A couple of things that make a big impact!
What are ways we as the surf community can collectively protect our oceans? There are so many things to do. The first on that comes to mind is reef-safe sunscreen. I think being really conscious about - one thing I’ve noticed that I do is travel and I know this amount of travel is bad for the environment. I am working to reduce that. As a community I think if everyone does a little something, we can make a big impact (eat locally and reducing plastic usage).