After the shark attack, I didn’t know anyone who surfed with one arm so it was hard to imagine it.
But then I talked to my good friend Mike Coots.
We still surf together all the time on Kauai to this day and he’s my older brother’s friend as well. Mike lost his leg to a shark 5 or more years before myself, but he learned to surf with one leg. (He now does shark photography and conservation! Check him out!).
Mike told me, “hey, I think you can learn to surf with one arm”.
All it took was just a little light-bulb of inspiration and then I was like, “ok, let’s do this!”
I was pumped, but it was definitely a gradual process with lots of ups, downs and tough moments. Day after day, I had to choose to persevere and overcome.
First, I learned on a longboard. I worked specifically on adjusting to standing up with one arm in this phase because the stability of the longboard was really helpful for that. Thankfully, being a young girl still, I was smaller and lighter so it was probably easier to figure it out.
I popped up on my third attempt on the longboard and rode it in all the way into the beach.
I was SO stoked! That was the moment where I thought, “there’s no turning back now”. I didn’t necessarily know if I would go back to competing or anything at that point, but I was just happy to be in the ocean and know that I could ride waves again.
From there, I just slowly rode shorter and shorter boards as I adapted to the balance points. It was difficult.
I took tons of wipeouts, but I was determined to figure it out.
Some days my dad would take me surfing and I wouldn’t make it out to the lineup! I would come into the beach crying because I couldn’t duck dive my board properly and get out past the impact zone. That’s when he came up with the idea of a handle on my board because he saw a handle on a lifeguard board.
I was so thankful for that handle! It was a really awesome help in learning how to duck dive again. Fast-forward to now and I don’t need the handle, but it is nice. I duck dive pretty often without it. However, it’s really great for the big days. When the surf is pounding and I’m being rag-dolled under water, the handle keeps me from loosing my grip on my board and from my board hitting me in the face. Sometimes the board still hits me in the face, but more rarely now!
My surf coach also was extremely helpful in this process of learning to surf again. He gave me a ton of tips and expertise and really helped me dial in my technique.
It has been such a journey of trial and error, adapting, persevering and overcoming!
Here’s a fun video of what my training looked like when I first was getting back into surfing!
I’m cheering you on to overcome the obstacles in your life today. You can choose to be adaptable and to persevere! When challenges come your way look for that hint of hope, talk with someone, read God’s Word and lean into Christ’s hope!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Cheering you on today! Aloha!
Header Photo Credit: Brendon O’Neal