By Tyler Bradshaw, 15, Redondo Union HS
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Tyler dreams of one day becoming a professional surfer.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to surf. I saw Surf’s Up, a movie about surfing penguins, and watching the penguins riding the waves gave me an adrenaline rush. My mom tells me stories about me wanting to go to surf camp and asking for surfboards for Christmas at the age of 3.

When I learned that I was moving and would be going to Redondo Union High School, which sits on Pacific Coast Highway two blocks from the ocean, I knew I would be able to learn to surf. I checked into school a week late and the only PE classes available were basketball, badminton and surfing. I talked with the surfing coach about not being able to surf. The coach smiled and said, “Come try it out and see how you like it,” and just like that I was in the surf class.

My mom got me a surfboard and wetsuit the next day. She bought the cheapest board she could find, a $190 board. The wetsuit cost $300. When she got home she barely had time to stop the car before I was pulling the sky-blue surfboard out of her trunk. I put the surfboard in my backyard and stared at it for 20 minutes as I tried to think of the perfect name for it. I toyed with Fish, Wave, Water and Sky, but finally I settled on Sticky because the surfboard had some sticky wax on the surface (to prevent slipping).

For class, I had to be at the Hermosa Beach pier at 6:30 a.m. three times a week. I thought I would be riding waves in a day but surfing wasn’t that easy. It takes lots of practice and dedication to get good.

I tried sitting up on my board like the rest of the class so I could see waves to catch, but I would lose my balance and flip over. Eventually my friend Sasha taught me how to sit up.

Tyler was excited that his new school offers surfing as a class.

When you see a wave, which looks like a bump in the water, you are supposed to turn toward the shore, lay on your stomach on your board and paddle like there is no tomorrow. You’ll feel the wave start to pick up the board. That’s when you have caught the wave and you need to quickly stand up on the board. I would try to stand, but I’d fall off and be crushed by water. I would be too close to the front of the surfboard so the board would slip behind me or I would be too far back so the board would slip in front of me. One day I stood on my board, but I was just practicing and there were no waves in sight.

Practices wiped me out

The days of surfing with no success were tiring. I’d surf for about an hour before I was sick of it. I constantly found myself dripping wet, arms dead from paddling, dragging my feet through the sand and letting my surfboard drag behind me. I would drop my body onto the sand. As I laid there with my nose in the sand my coach would say, “You have to get back in the water for credit for the day.” I would sigh and get back in the cold water for another hour.

About six weeks into class, in October, I got it right. I was surfing next to a girl, and I decided to watch her because she seemed to know the basic movements. I figured out that your feet had to be placed perfectly on the board, one in front so you can maneuver and one in back to help you balance. I stood and had balance. I was only on the wave for a second before I fell off, but it felt like an eternity.

A few weeks later I tried to catch a big wave. The wave crashed into me, and while I was under the water my surfboard slammed into my ear. I had a headache and my ear was bleeding. Later my mom took me to the doctor and they said I had a busted eardrum and concussion. The doctor said that I couldn’t surf for a month. I was crushed. I was just getting better and now I couldn’t go surfing.

My hard work paid off

I was so excited to go out into the water after the month was over. Two weeks later I caught a wave, jumped up and was balanced. I put my arms out and I was on the wave for three seconds until it crashed onto shore. My heart was racing. I finally did it! For the rest of the day I was riding waves.

I’ve finally done what I wanted to do since I was 3. I think surfing is the best sport ever. It’s unique. The waves are different every time. Some waves go slow, some go fast, some are big, some small. You can’t control the wave, but you can control the board. You’re trying to work with nature to catch a wave. I feel one with nature. When I’m sitting on my board and it’s calm and relaxing, I’m not thinking about what’s going on in my life and school. It’s peaceful.