Lakey Peterson’s Life Aquatic
Catch this wave! Lakey Peterson, 16, is already making it big in the professional surfing world. At age 12, Lakey won the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) Western States Champion. In 2009, she won the NSSA Women's 18-and-Under Open National Title, and" in 2010 she won for the second year in a row. Recently, Lakey was picked as the top female for the 2011 USA Surf Team. The surfing wunderkind tells Teen Voices about her life in the water, the determination it takes, and her passion for keeping the ocean clean.
Teen Voices: How did you get involved with surfing?
Peterson: I've always been in walking distance to the beach. My mom was a swimmer so I was always in the water and then I started participating in contests when I was eleven. I did some local contests and then went from there.
Teen Voices: When did you decide you wanted to be a professional surfer?
Peterson: I think when I was thirteen after I had been doing the contests for two years I started taking it more seriously and then the next year was when I went to the nationals and that made me realize that I can definitely do this and it's so fun and I don't want to do anything else.
Teen Voices: What advice do you have for teen girls who want to be professional athletes?
Peterson: I just think you shouldn't give up and you can do anything you put your mind to. Sometimes it's going to be hard and you're not going to want to do it, but it will all be worth it in the end.
Teen Voices: What have you learned from your challenges, successes, and disappointments?
Peterson: Sometimes I don't want to go surfing, and sometimes I don't want to work out in the gym. I never want to go to school, but you have to go, because you want to be smart and you want to learn. I love surfing. I love to do it -- but at the same time it's not always going to be super fun with perfect waves. I've learned that it will all come together and in five years I'll be glad that I did.
Teen Voices: Who has been your number one female role model?
Peterson: This might sound weird, and she's not an athlete, but I actually think Taylor Swift is the coolest, sweetest person from what I've seen in interviews. She's just really nice and everyone in the music industry says she is the nicest person. I really look up to her, actually. She seems like a really cool girl.
Teen Voices: In terms of athletes and surfers, what female surfer has inspired you the most?
Peterson: Stephanie Gilmore. She has won one of the world titles three times now. She's really cool. I've met her at contests. She's so good and she's a really nice girl. Her surfing is amazing and inspires me.
Teen Voices: What are some current goals you are working towards?
Peterson: I'm only 16, so I'm transitioning into some bigger contests. I'm now going into the more pro-stuff. I'm working on getting more experience against bigger-name girls. Maybe winning a couple more contests but getting better is my main thing.
Teen Voices: How do you stay so motivated?
Peterson: I know other people have put so much effort into me "“ my sponsors who are doing so much for me, my mom, my dad, and the rest of my family are supporting me. I love surfing. I couldn't imagine my life without surfing. Just knowing that everyone believes in me is really helpful and I could never not surf.
Teen Voices: Is it something you want to pursue after high school?
Peterson: Yes, for sure.
Teen Voices: You're now involved in the Student Conservation Association. So how and why did you get involved?
Peterson: I just wanted to be a part of a charity program and we found SCA online. They just seem like they are doing a really great thing for the Earth. They help in national parks and in nature. I'm surfing in the ocean and that needs to be cleaned. It just seemed like a really good match.
Teen Voices: Why is it important for teen girls to be involved in protecting our environment?
Peterson: We pollute so much. I want my children later on to be able to go into the ocean, and I want them to be able to play in national parks. It's really important that we clean the Earth, because if [we don't], generations to follow won't be able to do what we can do now. I just think it is a very important thing for everyone.
Teen Voices: How can other teens help the environment?
Peterson: Be aware. If you're on the beach and see trash on the ground, pick it up. Little things can add up. I just want to raise awareness with SCA. If you really want to get into it look up SGA.com and research other websites.
Teen Voices: You are successfully managing dyslexia. Any words of encouragement for teen girls handling it?
Peterson: Reading and school have always been really hard for me. But at the same time, I want to be smart, I want to learn. I want to be able to read a book and talk about it and talk with other people about it. It's really hard for me, but it will be worth it in the end. Keep trying hard. Even though it's hard, it's going to get easier. It's gotten easier for me." It's not always going to be wonderful but it's definitely worth it.
Teen Voices: How does it feel to be blazing a trail for women in the surfing world?
Peterson: It's pretty cool. I'm just having so much fun with it and just hope I can keep going in the direction I'm going. I just want to go far and keep living the dream!
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