Editor’s Note: The following piece by Kassia Meador is the first in a series about mentorship. It coincides with the DVD release of the film Chasing Mavericks, which revolves around the relationship between big-wave surfer Jay Moriarity and his surf coach and mentor, Frosty Hesson.
When I was a kid, I was in love with the beach culture introduced to me through movies like Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo. But growing up in the Valley, my only trips to the beach were in those movies and during the summer with my family. My dad would go surfing when we went to the beach, and it was something I always wanted to do.
The summer when I was 14, I did junior lifeguards and finally had a chance to start surfing. When my dad saw I was into surfing, he started surfing way more and taking me with him. My parents gave me my own surfboard for Christmas, and I started surfing on the weekends all year long with my dad. It was such a rad and special connection to share with my father. We would wake up early on the weekends and drink tea and coffee and head to the beach before the sun was up. The dawn patrol seemed like a sacred ritual–watching the sun rise from the water and spending those first hours of daylight riding waves. It was a magical experience and I was instantly hooked.
On the long car rides to and from the beach, my dad would tell me stories of surfing in California when he was a kid: how his board shorts glowed in the dark from the phosphorescence in summertime, how good Killer Dana was before they put up the second jetty and killed the wave, how the army guys would throw stuff at him and his friends from the bushes when they were sneaking into Trestles to surf, and how, before there were trails at Trails surf spot, they would lower their boards down with rope. So many stories, so many adventures, so many good times and lessons learned in the water and through the experience of surfing.
Years went by, and I was surfing more and more all the time. So much that I was fortunate enough to start riding for Roxy and travel the world doing what I loved.
Following my dreams brought me to my second mentor: Donald Takayama. He started making me surfboards when I was 17. Not only was my surfing changed for the best, but it offered me the opportunity to have a friendship with Donald that taught me so much about surfing, surfboards, surf culture and life. Surfers are a tribe of humans that revolve around friendship, the shared love of the ocean, wave riding, respect and stories. It’s a culture that blurs age gaps, gender gaps, language barriers, cultural barriers and pretty much any other barrier you can think of. Surfing is a culture of students and teachers.
For those of you who know what it’s like to fall into dreams of the sea, to wake up with the earth and start your day in the ocean, remember the stories you live and learn, and always pass them down to those future generations of sea creatures.