"A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset."
Chloe Atkinson is up early preparing for her morning surf. Before the South African sunrises, she works her way through a daily calisthenics routine followed by an intense yoga session (which she will also repeat after school).
As a Nelson Mandela Bay team member, Chloe finished second (U16 division) at the 2018 Sea Harvest South African Grommet Surfing Games held in Port Elizabeth. All the coastal provinces compete.
Chloe also helped coach and train the “lighties”, the little ones that surf (U10 division).
“I really enjoy coaching and helping kids that want to learn how to surf,” says Atkinson. “The kids can get off the street and find a safe space with surf programs.”
Many of the “lighties” are participants of the 9Miles Project, a community development program (to which Chloe volunteers) that uses surfing as a catalyst to engage at-risk youth in impoverished neighborhoods of Cape Town, Elands Bay, and St. Francis.
Growing up, Chloe was always at the beach boogie-boarding, catching waves, and enviously watching the surfers.
“I always wanted to surf and was really inspired by the sport,” says Chloe. She credits Bethany Hamilton’s movie, Soul Surfer as one of her biggest inspirations.
She hopes to inspire other young surfers from the 9Miles Project to get in the water and learn for themselves all that is good about the sport: discipline, determination, commitment, perseverance, and joy.
Chloe Atkinson might as well have been born a fish.
“I have more fun in the surf than I do on land. Surfing with friends is one of my favorite parts about the sport. It’s just a whole other feeling of happiness,” says the salty, South African, surfer girl.
“Snaking each other for fun, and watching my girlfriends do epic forward flip bails is the funniest thing.”
South Africa is currently on a nationwide lockdown of its 56 million inhabitants, enforced by police and the army, in a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
That means no surfing.
No doubt, Chloe Atkinson can’t wait to compete again or simply paddle out for a surf with friends.
Every surfer can empathize with the frustration of not being able to slip into the ocean. Especially during these fearful and uncertain times, we are all living in.
“Don’t let fear of the unknown overcome you and steal the best memories you could make,” says Chloe, encouragingly.
Chloe Atkinson believes if you treat everyone equally with kindness and respect that the world will reciprocate.
By that measure, good things are coming your way soon Chloe.