Kyra’s Perspective

Surf roots, beating the competition, the sport’s gender disparity, AND MORE WITH Surfer and Skateboarder Kyra Williams.

Story contributed by Arielle Sheres, Photo by Russell Hoover

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 Part I: The Warm Up

 

 

INTRODUCTIONS

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The water calls

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Velzyland

 

 

Photo by Steve Gaffney

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself as an individual: Where are you from? How do you feel your upbringing has shaped you into the person you are today?

I’m from Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach town outside of LA. My upbringing has shaped me into the person I am today in many ways. I have been so lucky to grow up in a small community and by the beach because it has given me an immense amount of opportunities and helped drive my passion for surfing.  

What gets you stoked in life?

Surfing and traveling always gets me stoked! :)

Can you trace your passion for outdoor sports back to one particular moment?

I have always loved going to the beach and surfing. However, it wasn’t until I was ten and took my first real surf trip to the North Shore of Hawaii with my dad that I realized I had a true passion for surfing. We were at a break called Velzyland and my dad pushed me into a perfect wave; I had never felt so much stoke, and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.

 

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 Part II: Friends, Female Empowerment, and Fierce Competition

 

 

Epic days out with friends

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“Girl is not a 4 letter word”

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Growing the sport

 

 
Photo by Christin Rose

Photo by Christin Rose

 

When did you start to participate in action sports like surfing and skateboarding? Is there anyone you’ve looked to as a role model along the way?

I started surfing consistently when I was ten years old. A few years later I began competing, and Cindy Whitehead (a former pro skateboarder) reached out to me to be an ambassador for her company, “Girl is Not a 4 Letter Word.” She works to push the boundaries in male-dominated sports and has always been one of my biggest role models.

What are some of your fondest memories from your time at the skatepark or out in the lineup?

Most of my fondest memories from being out in the lineup have been the epic days surfing with my friends. To me, there is nothing better than smiling, laughing, and trading off waves with the people that make me happiest!

Can you tell me a bit about Girl is Not a Four Letter Word? When did you get involved?

“Girl is Not a 4 Letter Word” is a female empowerment movement and brand that creates opportunities and gives visibility to women in male-dominated sports. I got involved when I was thirteen years old, after the founder, Cindy Whitehead, reached out to me. Since then, I’ve used social media to connect with young women across the world.

What have been some of the hardships you’ve faced as a female athlete? Do you feel anything has changed since getting involved with Girl is Not a Four Letter Word?

I still remember an experience I had at a surf contest when I just began competing. I was often the only girl in a pack of 30 boys, and that wasn’t a problem until I started winning. I still remember the mom of one of my competitors baying at the judges after I beat her son: “How is she allowed to compete with them? She’s a girl!”

Experiences like these were hurtful and isolating, and I began to see why girls might not bother in the first place. I want to make sure that girls always have that same feeling of support. Through being part of “Girl is Not a 4 Letter Word,” I’ve worked to change the gender disparity in the sport by motivating and inspiring other girls to get in the water and prove to themselves that they can do anything boys can do.

What do you hope will come from sharing your story?

I hope girls of all ages will realize that they are equal to their male counterparts and can accomplish the same things. I also hope that more girls will start surfing and skating!

You’re so young. What ambitions, goals, and projects do you see in your future as you look to the next few years?

Next year, one of my biggest goals is to work on expanding the surf team at UC Berkeley. Down the line, one of my ambitions is to bring legitimacy to the sport of surfing; one of my hopes is for it to be a NCAA sport. It will be in the next Olympics and surfers work just as hard as other athletes, so I would love to bring credit to all of the hard work people put in.

 

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 Part III: Finale Fire Round

 

 

Dolphin connection

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The Travel Bug

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Water over anything!

 

 
 

Ocean or mountains?

Ocean

Hunter or gatherer?

Gatherer

Surf or skate?
Surf

Ocean animal you most relate to?

Dolphins

Where do you feel a deep desire to travel to in the future?

The Maldives

Where is Your Goodland?

The beach!

Any final thoughts?

Thank you guys for the opportunity to tell my story on The Goodland!

Follow Kyra on Instagram: Kyra Williams