UCSD surfer puts professional dream on hold to earn degree

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SAN DIEGO — Becoming a professional surfer is a dream for many people who grew up competing in the sport, including UC San Diego junior Frankie Seely.

Seely, who currently competes on the Tritons surf team, but put her dream of turning pro on hold in order to earn a college degree.

She began surfing at the age of two with her dad on the shores of her home break in Malibu. At age 13 she began competitive surfing.

“It was mostly a hobby beforehand,” said Seely. “Then I wanted to surf waves with like only four other girls out and that was kind of a great opportunity to do that.”

Turns out, she was pretty good. Seely became a two time USA champion in longboarding and earned a third-place finish at nationals.

She postponed her dream to qualify for the World Tour, deciding instead to earn a degree in Film Media from UCSD.

“I want to get as many classes as I can,” said Seely. “Just finish as many units as I can and then maybe do some QS events during the summer. I’m thinking of going to Europe this summer.”

As an avid surfer, Seely says she’s stoked to see the sport of surfing recognized in the 2020 Olympics but believes more opportunities should be created to recognize surfers at the collegiate level who hope to turn professional.

“The WSL, which is the World Surf League, should give kids who are in college the same thing as NCAA gives their athletes who are in college,” said Seely.

As it stands, a certain amount of points accumulated through Qualifying Series are needed in order to earn a spot on the professional Championships Tour. The only way to earn those points is to compete in events outside of college.

“If we reorganize the points when it comes to the QS events and we put it into college, I think it would be a lot better,” said Seely. “People like me, who want to pursue surfing and who as well want to get an education, we can finally do that. I had to make that choice and it was really hard.”

The 5-foot-2 junior says being a female in male-dominated sports comes with plenty of challenges but encourages all women to surf like a girl.

“I tell those girls just to go for it,” said Seely. “It’s a good outlet when you’re younger to have surfing in your life.”

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