Surfing to become Hawaii high school sport

By Teri Okita – bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Sport of Kings is now becoming the Sport of Kids.

Surfing will now be incorporated into public high school athletics programs. They've been talking about this idea for years. In fact, the Board of Education approved surfing as a high school sport back in 2004, but funding and other challenges have kept it from official status. Until now.

Add barrels and boards to footballs and free throws. As early as spring 2013, high school surf teams will be competing for school pride.

"Like some of the other sports, the intent is to have an individual champion on the boys' and girls' level and then, also, a team champion or a school champion, as well, in the boys' and girls' level," says BOE member, Keith Amemiya.

Hawaii's own Carissa Moore says her pro career may have started out differently, if she had a surf team in high school.

The 19 year old Moore says, "I think I would have definitely been more excited to share it with a lot more of my friends at school 'cause there was a separation between my school friends and my surfing friends, and they were almost two different lives for me."

Now, the current Women's World Champ is making another charge at the waves by helping education officials and governor Neil Abercrombie with this. "Of course, on an individual basis, people have been committed to surfing, but by putting the DOE behind it, we're telling young people that they have another avenue now," explains the Governor.

Surfing could open the door for students who aren't interested in traditional sports. By making it official, educators anticipate increased participation in athletics and higher achievement rates.

Hawaii is the first state in the nation to sanction high school surfing. First year costs will run about 150 thousand dollars, and again, funding and liability almost caused a wipe-out.

Amemiya says, "Because of these lean, fiscal times, none of the DOE's funding will be used to run the events. We're counting on the private sector and the public to help us." For instance, surf experts and judges could help at the meets by donating their time. The outrigger canoe community did much the same thing when that became a high school sport.

The athletes will also need their own health insurance. Many details still need carving out, but student-surfers will definitely be dropping in on the nearest wave soon.

Once education officials have fine-tuned surfing, they'd like to make bodyboarding and bodysurfing official, as well.

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