March 29, 2014, 6:53 p.m
It takes hard work to become a professional surfer; you already know that. Your dedication to excelling at the sport can cost you a lot in terms of your personal life. It doesn’t have to, though. If you’re working on getting sponsored, you can still do all the stuff that other kids your age are doing, including attending and graduating from high school. In fact, you can get a better education.
Like nearly everything else involved with surfing, you just might have to do it in an untraditional way, like online. Online school is flexible, which will allow you to get your work done, but still practice, compete, and eventually get sponsored. You’ll need to follow a few tips for success to get there, though.
Don’t quit – It takes discipline to keep surfing hard when you don’t think you’re getting results. The only way you’re going to get better – and recognized – is if you continue to practice. Think of the payoff when you surf bigger and bigger waves because you’ve practiced, and you’re able to. Others will eventually recognize your skill, but only if you keep at it. When you’re attending school online, you’ll have plenty of time for working on your skills.
- Go local – Hang out at local surf shops and even think about taking your online classes at local coffee shops. You’re guaranteed to run into other like-minded individuals, and that will lead to connecting with more surfers. The more people you know in the business, the more likely your chances of finding someone who will be interested in sponsoring you. It’s called networking, and the more you network, the more well-known you’ll be. If you’re old enough, find out about jobs available at the shop. You can always work on homework or online lessons on your breaks.
- Compete – Don’t think that local competitions are beneath you. Like practicing, the more you compete, the better you get at it. As an added bonus, every time you compete, you’re increasing your exposure to potential sponsors. Every time you place in a local competition, you’re getting your name out in front of important people. If you’re frequenting local surf shops as recommended, ask the owner to sponsor you in local competitions.
- Be professional – Just because you’re not sponsored yet, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like you are. That’s not to say you should develop a bad attitude about your abilities; rather, put your qualifications together to show people you’re serious. For example, put together a video resume of some of the highlights of your career so far. Get footage from any competitions you’ve entered – whether you’ve placed or not – as well as film of you practicing.
In addition to the video evidence, document your experience on paper with a professional resume. Make sure you include the fact that you’re attending high school online, so potential sponsors know that you’re dedicated to your education, too. If you can take that seriously, you’re probably going to take your surfing seriously, too.