The university life after a surfing career

June 15, 2011 | Surfing
Chris Friend: university is his friend

Prize money, points, glory, career, exotic surf trips, victories, sponsors. Good things come to those who wait, but what happens when you're no longer part of the professional surfing circus?

No worries. There's life after surfing. An increasing number of surfers is preparing and planning a career before retiring from the pro wave riding spotlight. Studies should always come first, even when you're 18 and life seems perfect.

The Australian surfer Chris Friend is surfing hard to qualify for the ASP World Title Series, but he's looking forward to keep his University studies alive and kicking.

"There's a stigma about studying and surfing because not many professional surfers go to Uni," Friend said. "I've seen other athletes manage to do both and thought, why can't I? I've always wanted to study, I put school first when I was a grommet, but now it's about balancing surfing and studying".

"It's easy to get distracted when you’re traveling, especially if the waves are pumping. The good thing is, this is something I want to do, and no one is forcing me. I just don't want to limit myself to surfing."

Currently studying a Bachelor of Business by distance education through an elite athlete program at the University of Southern Queensland, Friend has set his sights high, but has his feet firmly on the ground.

"I'd love to have an executive job at Volcom one day, CEO or something, hopefully after a successful competitive career," Friend said.

"Volcom are really supportive, obviously I'm being paid by them to surf, so I need to be there and do that for them, but they are supportive of my studies too, which is a huge bonus.

"Traveling isn't easy, but there's so much downtime at airport lounges, on planes and in hotels. I'd rather use the time to further my education in something that I'm interested in than just watching TV and movies."

Jessi Miley-Dyer has been on the elite ASP World Tour for six years competing against the world's best surfers in the world's best waves.

In 2006, she finished 4th in the world, and now at only 25 years of age she's considered one of the veterans on the ASP Women’s World Tour. She's currently doing a double degree at UNSW, a Bachelor of Media (Communications and Journalism)/Bachelor of Law and she says it’s easy.

"It's easy because it's just up the road from my house and they have an elite athlete program where they waive your attendance requirements and give you other support," Miley-Dyer said.

"I found out about it through one of my friends who I used to swim train with when I was a kid who's now in the Australian Water Polo team. He lives in Europe playing in the leagues over there, so I figured that if he could do it then I could too."

Miley-Dyer is now traveling on the ASP Women’s World Tour funded by her own bank account and prize-money. She knows better than most the advantages of being prepared for whatever the future may hold.

"I think that this is something that more surfers should be doing," Miley-Dyer said.

"I'm seeing a lot of younger surfers not finishing high school and I think it's something that's going to turn into a problem. We should be encouraging the next generation to finish some form of education because otherwise we are just continuing on the dopey surfer stereotype."

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