Maui News

Surfing to Become a High School Sport in Hawai’i

October 3, 2011, 12:57 PM HST
* Updated October 4, 7:57 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui's north shore. File photo by Wendy Osher.

State leaders today announced the addition of surfing as a sport in Hawaii’s public schools.  The sport will allow for school sanctioned surf competitions as early as the spring of 2013.

The announcement was made today by Governor Neil Abercrombie, Hawai’i School Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, Board of Education member Keith Amemiya and 2011 Womens’ World Surf Champion Carissa Moore.

“Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing,” said Gov. Abercrombie.  “From Duke Kahanamoku to the thousands of residents and visitors who surf both recreationally and competitively, the sport is rooted in our culture and way of life,” he said.

“Bringing surfing to our students is another step in our collective goal to transform public education and provide our children with rich and diverse educational opportunities,” said Gov. Abercrombie.


Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, who became the youngest surfer ever to win a professional surfing world title this summer at the age of 18, joined in celebrating today’s announcement.


“It will open doors for a lot of students,” she said, explaining that surfing taught her important life skills such as perseverance, time management, and organization.

The Hawaii State Board of Education approved surfing as a high school sport in May 2004, but a variety of challenges were encountered–including lack of funding, which kept it from becoming a full-fledged school sport in the state.

The DOE intends to support the sport with outside funding sources, according to a statement released today by the department.


“Surfing will be an exciting addition for our students as we continue to expand and improve educational programs to increase student achievement,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

“School sports teach critical life lessons such as team work and goal-setting while helping students stay active and healthy,” she said.

BOE member Keith Amemiya, a former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, said surfing will allow students to not only learn about their environment, but also about themselves.

“Surfing is a unique sport that often attracts athletes that may not necessarily be interested in more traditional sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and soccer,” he said.  “Therefore, we’re confident that surfing will increase athletics participation numbers.  In our view, the more students that engage in athletics and other after school activities, the higher our student achievement rates will become,” said Amemiya.

The BOE and DOE will continue to discuss a plan to implement surfing as a high school sport during the Board’s General Business Meeting tomorrow, Oct. 4, in Honolulu.

*** Supporting information courtesy the Hawai’i Department of Education.

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