Humans have an innate connection to chest-thumping stories about overcoming obstacles in the face of adversity. The trouble is, from the outside looking in, traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the world and competing at some of the world’s best waves as professional surfers do doesn’t exactly scream adversity. But it’s precisely there where you’d be surprised.
Recent efforts on the part of the World Surf League to profile Championship Tour and Qualifying Series athletes has been nothing if not enlightening. They’ve rounded out athletes we know and love to give us a deeper understanding of their headspace. Ryan Callinan’s might be the best one yet.
You remember Callinan. At the ripe age of 24, he embarked on his rookie season in 2016, but lackluster results relegated him back to the Qualifying Series. Along the way, his father passed, and a year later he lost his mother. That kind of loss isn’t just unimaginable. It’s absolutely tragic.
Now, in 2018, Callinan is using those circumstances as fuel to re-qualify for the CT and demonstrate to himself and the rest of the world why he deserves to be included in the top 34. It’s a story that goes beyond surfing – it’s one that shows the resilience of the human spirit.