I’m from Wisconsin. We don’t surf. We can surf, but it’s not something we grow up doing. I knew when I moved to California almost a year ago that I wanted to learn. I figured this summer was as good of a time as ever.
How would I go about learning? One morning, my 9-year-old neighbor, Hayden Castleberry, came home with a huge trophy and I asked her what she had done to earn such a prize. She said, ‘I’m the surfing G.O.A.T. It means greatest of all today.’ She earned the trophy at Dana McGregor’s Surfing Goat Camp in Pismo Beach.
After a few days of thinking, it hit me. I’d ask Hayden to teach me how to surf. I mean, after all, she is the surfing G.O.A.T.
The very next day, I asked Hayden if she would teach me. To my delighted surprise, she was more than willing to help me out.
We met at Pismo Beach on a Wednesday morning, just after I rented my wetsuit and surf board. It was time to learn.
Hayden, who started surfing at age seven, taught like a seasoned pro. You’d never be able to tell her age by the way she talked and instructed. I felt like I was in school again.
We started by putting zinc on our faces. Zinc helps your face stay protected from the sun. Hayden added that we’d also look like warriors. I chose purple zinc, because, why not?
It was then time to loosen up and stretch. I can tell you that this warrior is not as flexible as he once was. Surfing is a full body exercise, so we needed all of our muscles warmed up.
Our last step before hitting the water was pop-ups. Take it from a first-time surfer, a pop-up is much easier said than done. It took me a few tries, but I eventually got it.
At last, it was time to get in the water. Now I’m from Wisconsin where the water is cold almost all-year-round, but on this day, the Pacific was chilly.
We paddled out, and before I knew it, it was time for my first wave. I remembered the steps that Hayden taught me on the beach. I aimed for the sand, waited for the wave to start breaking, popped to my feet, and…CRASH. My landing was not graceful.
Wave, after wave, after wave, I kept falling off my board. Even when I got close, I just couldn’t hang on. Hayden, however, was gliding on the waves like a veteran.
We were in the water for nearly 45 minutes, and I was getting exhausted. I told Hayden, ‘One more wave. This is the time.’
I paddled out, aimed for the beach, hit the wave, popped to my feet, and…stuck. My fins got caught in the sand, and I stopped in a heap. BUT, I was standing on the board. That was my goal the whole time, to stand up and not crash.
I was sore. I was tired. I was beat up. However, I had an absolute blast surfing for the first time and I owe all of my new skills to my coach, Hayden.
A big thanks to KSBY photographer Kenny Nichols from shooting the story. Great job!
If you’d like to learn how to surf from Hayden, click on the link to her Facebook page: Hayden’s Grover Beach Surf Academy