Day in the Life: Surf Team

It is 3:31 p.m. at 15th Street in Del Mar. The sky is a blanket of pristine and pure blue. The sun continues its celestial tumble towards the horizon, extending tendrils of gold through whispery clouds. Sandpipers curiously wander along the wet sand. A seagull playfully swoops and spirals overhead.

The ocean seems to be content today. Its rhythmic breathing is slow and measured. Waves spread themselves thin with a gentle hiss before being pulled back in by the steady inhalation of the sea. 

The dynamics of this ever-changing environment are fascinating and awe-inspiring for the spectator watching from the shore. 

But it is just another day in the life of the Torrey Pines Surf Team. This environment is a part of their soul.

“It’s mostly just peace,” Jorge Acevedo (11),  who started surfing when he was six years old and has been a member of the team since his sophomore year, said. “For me, [the ocean] is a place where I can go and think as well as have fun. It’s my happy place, you know?” 

The other members of the team certainly do know. To them, surfing and the ocean are integral parts of their lives that affect their mood, attitude toward life and response to stress.

“I feel like surfing is definitely an essential part of my day and if I don’t surf during the week, I get more stressed out,” Claire Conover (12), captain of the girls surf team, said. “School is stressful, and everyone has lots of things to do, but taking a little time to do some physical exercise and spend some time in the water is always really helpful.”

For many members of the team, the ocean is a refuge of sorts. It is a place where they can tune into the frequencies of their own thoughts without the static interference of the outside world.

“You feel disconnected from what’s on land but reconnected to your own thoughts,” Austin Wade, advisor of the surf team for five years, said. “There’s less noise. It cleans the soul out a little bit. You always feel better after getting into the ocean, whether it be physically if you had a good exercise, or mentally if you were able to think without the outside noise.”

The team meets once a week at 15th Street, at 3:30 p.m. on Staff Collaboration Wednesdays or at 6:30 a.m. on Student Connection Wednesdays. It is composed of three parts: a recreational club that anyone can join, and the boys and girls teams for more advanced surfers, who compete in five competitions a year against local high schools. 

But at its core, the team is just a group of local kids who truly love to surf, and even more so when they are with each other.

“It’s a bunch of buddies just having a good time and hanging out,” David Velasco (12), a captain of the boys team and a member since his freshman year, said.

The welcoming environment of the ocean that the team so often immerses themselves in is reflected in the way they interact with each other. The spirit of the ocean is shared by all of them.

“[The team] is very chill and not super judgemental,” Conover said. “Everyone’s there to have a good time and get better. If I mess up, it’s okay, I just get back on the wave and try again. I definitely love that environment.”

Or, to put it in Wade’s terms: “everyone seems to just enjoy the excuse to go surfing once a week.”

For Acevedo, the team provided him with a home away from home. 

Growing up in Rosarito, a coastal town in Mexico, Acevedo was constantly around the beach. After joining his cousins at a surf camp they were attending, he “ended up just falling in love with surfing.”

After moving to San Diego a couple of years ago, Acevedo said that he missed his surf friends in Mexico.

But the surf team welcomed him in, helping him bridge his past and present life through his eternal love for surfing.

“It was pretty great because a lot of the kids at the surf team introduced me to so many more spots and just showed me a new perspective to surfing as well as competing,” Acevedo said. “There are times when it’s better to be alone when you just want to chill, but it’s definitely super fun to surf with friends.”   

That is what the surf team is all about: connecting people through their shared love of the ocean and surfing, washing away all barriers between them until only pure passion and kindness is left. 

The surf team is different from any other sports team at TPHS. It is not as intensely competitive and is not excessively publicized to the student body.

That is exactly how they like it.

“It’s not a traditional sport,” Wade said. “We have so many amazing athletes at Torrey Pines and so many amazing programs. But the surf team just gets to function on another level and it’s not so serious, it’s more relaxed.”

The team also welcomes anyone who is interested in surfing, no matter their skill level. They are just cool like that.

“It’s for all levels,” Conover said. “You don’t need to be a really good surfer to join. You just need to be interested in getting better.”

Wade echoed this.

“We take anybody and everybody as long as you have your own surfboard and wetsuit to push in waves,” Wade said.

For the surf team, that is all that matters. 

The salty sting in the air. The sun’s gentle caress. The blanket of blue above them, and the one stretching endlessly before them.

Read on Issuu.

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