This 14-year-old is California’s next big thing. Get to know her, inside.
Alyssa Spencer is only 14 years old, but if you looked at her list of competitive successes, you wouldn’t think so – accolades from World Juniors, Pro Juniors, US Championships, GromSearch events are more.
But that hit list aside, if you simply watch Alyssa surf, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that she’s easily one of California’s next big things.
And so, we thought you should get to know her a bit…
Alyssa, in your Really Really Really Good Surfers clip you mention that you got in to surfing at age 5. How did that come about?
I guess I sort of just got into it because my dad surfed, and he’d bring me down to the beach when I was a little baby. I’d watch him surfing and I’d just think, wow, I want to know how to do that! And he’d bring me out and push me in on my stomach. I started standing up at around age 5 and I just had the biggest blast. I actually remember some of it!
You’re from Carlsbad, California – just north of San Diego. How do you think that’s influenced your surfing career?
Well there are a lot of kids who surf around here now, and I guess they’re all sort of pushing each other and we all help each other out. We’re trying to have fun, and we are a competitive bunch, so it’s a good combination. It’s mostly boys that I have been surfing with since I was eight or nine, and I’ve always wanted to be just as good as them, or better than them.
And when did you start looking at surfing as something you could do professionally?
I started competing when I was about nine of ten years old and I just did a few little contests around my hometown. I immediately loved the feeling of competing, and I started doing the WSA events when I was about 11. That’s how I got into the US Championships, and I ended up winning the 12-and-under division when I was 12! That felt really, really good – and from that point on I knew that competing and surfing was what I wanted to do.
And you’ve been killing it, too! You just won the GromSearch event over in North Carolina. How did that feel?
Oh, it felt so good. And I really value getting the experience of other states and sometimes countries. It opens your eyes to how many great girls are surfing around the world – there is so much talent out there – and that gives you a bit of perspective for where I need to be.
Is that intimidating?
Um, I think it just pushes me more, to want to keep bettering my surfing. My goal is to always be on top, and I know that I have to work really hard to be there, because all of the other girls are surfing really well too.
You seem like a pretty competitive person… would you agree?
Yeah, definitely. It’s just what I love to do, and I’ve always been that competitive person who wants to be number one.
A lot of people your age start looking at surfing as a bit of a job, but because you love competition, does that keep the element of fun throughout it all?
Oh yeah! Definitely. It’s something that I’m passionate about and I wouldn’t be doing it unless I loved it. Knowing that is really important to me.
Do you have any immediate goals? Obviously you want to make the Tour…
I guess this year I am trying to make the World Juniors again, and next year I am going to try to go for the QS and see how it goes. I’ll do the first few events in Australia. I’m 14 years old now, and I’d love to make the Tour by age 17 or 18. This first year will be a trial run, and when I turn 16 I’ll really go for it.
And a few quick thoughts on…
School: I’m actually home-schooled, but I’m still fully doing it and I’m going to finish high school then start taking college courses online after that. I’ve always thought it’s important to keep an education, because you’re going to have to find a career after surfing.
Your most memorable surf trip: I went to Australia for the World Juniors last year, and that was the best trip. I loved it there and the people were so nice. The waves weren’t the best, but that whole contest was a great experience for learning.
Your next step in surfing: I’ve been trying to nail a blowtail reverse. I’ve landed a few but it’s hard to keep it consistent – you have to try every session, all the time. But after I get that down I want to start working on my airs. I’ve landed one, once, but that’s it. And then something else I really want to work on is backside barrel riding. I haven’t had much of a chance to try that.
Your career highlight: I won the first Junior Pro I had ever done, in Florida, and it was on my 13th birthday. I went by myself and I stayed with a friend, and I was going in with no expectations at all.
Your favourite local wave: Lowers, for sure.
Surfing Trestles: I go up there in the summer because the waves are great, but during the winter I surf down south near my house.
Airs or barrels: Barrels, hands down.
Your dream wave: I really want to go to Macaronis. Either there or Lakey Peak.
Your least favourite part of working out: Doing 300-yard dashes at the end.
Siblings: I have one younger brother and he’s 12. He surfs, but he does it just for fun. He’s really into fishing.
Breakfast: I normally eat a piece of toast with almond butter on it, and then either a fried or scrambled egg.
Juice: I love orange juice.
Coffee: I don’t like coffee. I hate the taste.
Meet Alyssa Spencer: A Really, Really, Really Good Surfer