Meet Zoe Benedetto
Zoe is a young and passionate surfergirl from Florida. She tells us more about herself…
My name is Zoe Benedetto. I am 12 years old and currently a member of the Team USA Olympic Jr. Development Team. I live in Palm City, Florida USA and yes we have waves in Florida.
I have always been in the water. My mom said she surfed when she was pregnant with me. We were always in the ocean. My mom used to paddle with me on the nose of a longboard on small or flat days since I was a baby. She would even catch a few waves on her short board with me. She used to run a surf camp every summer since before I was born, so surfing is in my blood.
My first memory of surfing, like really surfing is at surf camp and being pushed in to my first wave on a yellow foamie board we called the banana. It wasn’t a huge wave, but I stood up, went down the line and felt like I was flying! It was awesome! I think I was 4. I know I had surfed many times before, but that ride made me want to surf for the rest of my life!
Zoe with Joey Buron (Coach USA Olympic Surfing)
I love surfing almost any kind of wave. I have surfed in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and all over the United States. In the U.S. Lower Trestles, Lowers, is my favorite wave. It’s in California and just the most perfect right. I get happy just thinking about that wave.
Back home in Florida, I surf North Jetty all the time. It’s about 40 minutes from my house, but worth the drive. North Jetty is like a small version of Lowers. I also love Ponce Inlet and the wedging right that bounces off the jetty! There really are so many good waves in Florida, you just have to know when and where, which my board shaper and kind of Uncle, Shea Lopez is really good at figuring out.
Surfers I look up to:
Shea Lopez is one of the surfers I look up to, not only because he knows where to surf and when to go and is almost always right, but also because he knows so much about surfing. He was on the championship tour for quite a while and just knows how to explain things to me about my surfing and about my boards. I have been surfing with Shea since I was 7 years old, so he knows my surfing inside and out! Also, he is a FLORIDA surfer who made the tour!
Lisa Andersen is another surfer I look up to. She is a 4 time women’s world champion, who is also from Florida. She surfs so smoothly, with so much style and grace, but is also powerful! She helped change the way women’s surfing was viewed by the guys! She is really nice and I occasionally get to hang out with her when I am in California! She says I am her mini me!
Kelly Slater, 11 time world champion, and Florida born and bred surfer! Do I need to say anymore? He is the King! His knowledge on surfing and total health and fitness is just amazing!
I also look up to my mom, because she introduced me to surfing. And my Dad, because he and my mom support everything I do!!!
When I am not surfing and not doing school, I am playing soccer. I love soccer, almost as much as I love surfing. I play for Orlando City 05 ECNL team!
Playing with my teammates and all my friends is so much fun. I love running on the field and playing teams from all over the United States! I love training and learning new moves and how to improve! I love that it is different from surfing and it is not totally reliant on me. Soccer is about team and working together! It’s rad!
I also love to read and watch you tube videos and listen to music.
Competition can be so different from free surfing! I love competing. I want to win!
I can usually be found free surfing before my heats. I then try to find a quiet spot with my mom or Shea and watch the waves. I do my before heat routine. I guess there is some pressure to perform, but my mom always reminds me of 2 things before I paddle out, she always tells me “I love you” and “think of this heat like you are free surfing and go have FUN!”
My personal goals for surfing are to make the Championship Tour and be world Champion! I also want to surf in the Olympics. My other goals include going to College and getting a degree, which if I am on tour I will attend college online! Attending college is a must for me! I will graduate college no matter what!
Values that are important to me? Honesty, kindness, empathy and gratitude. I want to always be myself no matter what! I don’t care if it’s cool or not, I will always try my best to do the right thing in what ever situation I am in.
For all the beginners out there go SURF. It is soooo much fun! Always remember that feeling! If that feeling of fun ever goes away then you need to take a deep breath and shake off the bad feeling, catch a wave and just have fun. I mean even wiping out can be fun! If you are surfing for any reason, fun needs to be the first and MAIN reason why you surf!
For the Girl surfers, don’t listen to the haters, whether it be boys or other girls. Don’t stop because someone teases you or some cranky old surfer yells at you, just watch, learn, try and have FUN! Oh and always paddle towards the white water!
Current sponsors: Ron Jon Surf Shop, Native Eyewear, Lopez Surfboards, FCS, Girl is Not A 4 Letter Word, and Hurley
Follow Zoe : @zoe_benedetto