Behind the Bandits
Meet Kayla January 06, 2016 18:13
My name is Kayla Durden and I am a 22 year old professional surfer from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. My passion for surfing began at the age of five when my dad decided to teach me how to surf on a family vacation in Cocoa Beach, Florida. I can vividly remember him pushing me in on my first wave and since that day I have never looked back. At that point, I fell in love with surfing and began competing in surfing competitions at the age of 12.
I have always been an athlete thanks to my older brother Corey who pushed me around when I was younger. My love for competition was born on the basketball court. I played point guard throughout my middle school and high school career and considered playing basketball in college but opted to pursue surfing instead because that is what my heart was telling me to do.
I came to a cross road in 2011 during my senior year of high school should I pursue surfing or go to college? I decided to get my Bachelors degree at the University of North Florida and graduated Summa Cum Laude this past December with a major in Marketing and a minor in Spanish. Now that I have my degree, I have decided to put my degree in my back pocket (for now) and pursue the a spot in the World Qualifying Series of surfing.
So what is this World Qualifying Series? Just think of it as the equivalent of the minor leagues for baseball. It is a tour below the World Tour that gives me a chance to compete to be one of the top seventeen girls in the world in 2017. I have waited my entire life to compete on this tour! The tour consists of multiple events all over the world and each event carries a certain amount of points. The tour starts (for me) in January of 2016 in Huntington Beach, California and then will move on to a month and a half in Australia where I will compete in five events. After Australia, the tour will move to other locations such as Cabo, Europe and California again. There are so many girls who will be competing for the prestigious spot of being on tour but I am so blessed and excited to be one of those girls competing!
In order for my body to be ready for the World Qualifying Series, I had to make a commitment to the sport outside of the water. As such, I have been doing Crossfit for the past three years at a local crossfit gym called Crossfit Ragnarok. They have taught me how to be mentally tough and helped me push myself far beyond what I knew I could have. I feel that this will be one of my strengths during the upcoming season because I will be in great physical shape to compete at my highest level! I have also been working with a new coach, Evan Thompson, about two times a week just filming and correcting errors. He has competing on the Junior World Tour as well as the World Qualifying Tour which has given me solid insight on what I will be facing this upcoming year.
I am so stoked for this upcoming year and I am excited for you to follow along as I go on an adventure of a lifetime! Be sure to stay tuned to this blog and the Neon Bandits social channels for updates as I chase my dream!