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“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.” -President Obama, January 25, 2011.
I have no idea what individual educational awards Taylor Pitz has garnered through the years but as a result of her stratospheric GPA and years of dedication to her studies, she has achieved what few competitive surfers before her have accomplished …acceptance into revered Stanford University. Between surf contests and schoolwork, Taylor gave us a few minutes of her precious time and we’re stoked to have her here on JettyGirl. (Our small window of opportunity was just in time too because within the last 48 hours, USC has just knocked on her door as well.)
Currently ranked number one in the NSSA Open Season, Taylor obviously rips but she’s so much more than simply a surfing talent. Taylor’s an engaging, considerate, thoughtful young woman and it’s clear that she’s also been blessed with a supportive family at home. Whether she’s throwing spray with her formidable frontside snap or trading ideas with the brightest young minds at Stanford next fall, our world is simply a better place for having Taylor in it. She is exactly the type of person that we like to celebrate on the pages of JettyGirl. –Chris Grant
JettyGirl: Before we get into surfing questions, we hear congratulations are in order. How happy are you to be heading to Stanford next fall?
Taylor Pitz: I’m so stoked! I never thought in a million years I’d get into a school like that. It’s really exciting. It’s a bit scary because it’s something really far outside of my comfort zone. It’s Northern California. I’ve never really spent any time up there and it will be with some of the smartest kids in the country. I’m really excited so hopefully it will be a good year.
JG: I know it’s early days to be asking this but have you decided on what area you’d like to be studying in at Stanford?
TP: I haven’t declared a major yet so I’m not sure but I have an interest in environmental science so I’m looking into details about that.
Taylor Pitz showing perfect backside technique on a flawless Santa Ana day in Southern California.
JG: Many surfers who have achieved your success in the amateur ranks would have gone straight from high school to the WQS. Do you look at college and professional surfing as an “either/or” or a “both/and?”
TP: For a while I thought it was an “or” but now I’m realizing that it’s just going to be more of the same. I did the whole high school thing without homeschooling and still did a complete amateur career so I’m just going to try to do the college thing and see how far I can stick with college and surfing and just keep it going. I love both and they both mean a lot to me so I don’t see why I should have to choose one over the other.
JG: What are your thoughts on kids taking the homeschool route in hopes of making surfing a career?
TP: I feel like there’s a place for everything and there are those kids like Kolohe (Andino) and Luke (Davis) who are really, really exceptional at surfing and that travel all over the world. It doesn’t make any sense at all for them to go to regular public school but for most kids I feel that it’s better to go to public school because you miss out on so much by homeschooling. In public school there are parts that are boring but there is a lot that is fun. You do have the learning part but you also get to be with all of your friends.
JG: Over the past four years you seem to be at the top of the list whenever the NSSA sends out their scholar/athlete press releases. Since you’re obviously succeeding with both your surfing and grades, have you discovered any secrets on balancing the two?
TP: I haven’t really figured out the best way to balance anything. I just do what I need to do and hope that it ends up alright in the end. Sometimes it gets rather hard. I won’t get to surf for a whole week because I’ve been busy with school and stuff and then I’ll go straight into a contest on Sunday and simply have to wing it. Other times I’ll be missing two weeks of school while traveling and when I come back I’ll have three papers and four tests and it’s just like, “Oh c’mon, really?” It’s turned out alright though. I’m happy that I’ve worked hard to keep both going.
…and now a few words from NSSA Executive Director, Janice Aragon…
“Clearly what Taylor has accomplished both in the water and the classroom is an amazing display of commitment and excellence. She is a terrific role model for young surfers and I hope her dedication to surfing and school can inspire and show kids that they too, can be surfing standouts and champions while also pursuing a higher education. Taylor currently holds a commanding lead in the Southwest Open Womens ratings with 3 victories so far this season and is also the reigning NSSA State Women’s Champion, a title she will look to defend at the 2011 State Championships this coming March. She was named NSSA Surfer of the Month for December 2010, because of her outstanding competitive and academic achievements which included being accepted to Stanford. She is also one of the leading contenders for a National title this coming summer. A 4.5 GPA scholar who hits the waves and the books, Taylor has been the epitome of a NSSA student athlete!” -Janice Aragon, NSSA Executive Director
JG: Switching topics a bit, growing up in Laguna Beach must be interesting. With such an eclectic population of residents, the constant flow of tourists, the art and surf communities, etc. what is it that makes this place special to you?
TP: It’s the weirdest little town ever but I love everything about it. It’s just so different than anywhere. Even though there are so many things going on, everyone is really close and united. There are a bunch of school sports and surfing and there’s the whole art scene. I don’t know, it’s just so different and it’s so beautiful. If you look around, the water!!! …I’ve never been anywhere that has water that looks like Laguna. I love it! You can hike. You can surf. You can do whatever and everyone’s close. I’ve grown up with the same friends since kindergarten. It just has a neat homey feel. There’s nowhere like it!
JG: We hear that your family is in the local restaurant business. True?
TP: Yes, my family owns a restaurant called Dizz’s As Is. My grandpa started it in the 70’s. Now my dad, my uncles and my aunts all help out and run the family business.
JG: What’s your favorite item on the menu?
TP: Berry pie. It’s so good!
JG: Although Laguna Beach as a whole seems to be a mellow place, the surf breaks are known to be less than friendly to outsiders. Does that reputation hold some truth?
TP: Yes, pretty much. Everyone is super mellow but obviously surfers are greedy. They want their waves. Laguna’s nice because there aren’t many people here but it’s pretty hard to get the waves good due to inconsistent swells, fickle tides and unpredictable winds. When it is good, you had to have put your time in to get any waves and when some new guy paddles out, it’s like, “Ok, I’ve waited here, I’ve surfed all the bad days. Now, please don’t try to take my waves. I want a good one!”
JG: How old were you when you discovered you loved the ocean?
TP: I’ve loved the ocean for as long as I can remember. My parents both grew up in Southern California so I’ve been going to the beach since I was a baby and I’ve always loved the water. I didn’t start surfing until I was thirteen but I’ve been in the water my whole life and have just loved it.
JG: Describe the board that made you a surfer.
TP: Well, there are basically two. The first one that I ever had was my orange Doyle. Everyone in my middle school surf team remembers it very well. It was just this round little 7-foot Doyle, bright, bright orange and I was just out there everyday having so much on it. I’d be able to sit out the back so all the little groms on the shortboards would be like, “No, your’e catching all the waves!” I was stoked on it! When I started working my way onto real boards, I got this pink Stamps surfboard and I loved that board so much. I thought it was so cool. Those two made me a surfer (laughs).
JG: Does anyone else in your family surf?
TP: Yes, my dad surfs and my little brother surfs too, my sister a little bit. I used to surf with my dad everyday before I had a car and could drive. He’d take me surfing every morning so we got really close. We’re both really busy now so we don’t get to surf as much anymore. It’s kind of a bummer. My brother is just starting so I’m hoping this summer I’ll get to take him out and surf with him.
JG: Do you think the future of women’s surfing will happen in the air?
TP: I think women’s surfing is going to keep progressing the same as men so airs will be incorporated but I don’t think airs will be the main focus. I think barrels and good solid rail turns will always be the foundation. Obviously, girls like Carissa, Coco and Lakey are going to go do crazy stuff and bring it to another level but I think the basics will always be really important too.
JG: Where would you like to travel?
TP: I’d love to travel everywhere! That’s my favorite thing about surfing …getting to surf new waves and meet new people and friends. It’s so weird because I love being at home. I love Laguna but it makes me love home more when I get to go to all these places. I want to travel hopefully all through Indo. I really want to go to Australia and Africa and Europe …pretty much everywhere (laughs).
JG: Describe your perfect day.
TP: My perfect day would be in August because it’s my favorite month. I’d wake up, go surf perfect waves with warm water and a couple friends, not crowded. After surfing I’d go eat yoghurt because it’s my favorite food. I’d surf again and then meet all my friends at the beach and hang out. For the most part, it would be like summer in Laguna which is basically my favorite.
JG. Any shout-outs in closing?
TP: Shouts-outs to my family! I’m really close to my family so my mom and my sister Makenna especially and my dad for all those days surfing and my little brother. My best friend Andrew who I always drag surfing. Rex, Kris and Chandler Parr!
JG: Thank you Taylor!
TP: Thank you JettyGirl!
*Taylor Pitz rides for Billabong, Tonic Haircare, XS Energy Drinks and Laguna Beach Bikram Yoga. *Check out Taylor’s new blog: “straightSass: two blondes + a camera + the ocean + a whole lotta sass”
Photo Credits: CHRIS GRANT/JETTYGIRL.COM
Special Thanks: Props to Billabong for their support. Check out their Spring Surf Series Collection!