Meet Charli Jo Meek July 04 2016 2 Comments
Charli Jo Meek is an 18 year old competitive surfer from Texas who has spent the last four years living in Playa Dominical. Enthusiastic and personable, this young lady is currently ranked sixth by the Federación de Surf Costa Rica in the Open Women's category on the National Surfing Circuit (Circuito Naciónal de Surf - CNS). Aiming to become an international professional surfer, she has set the bar high for herself. Recently Charli shared some of the challenges and struggles of being a student and athlete, her love of Costa Rica, her faith, and how instrumental her family has been on this incredible journey.
Q: Describe your first moment surfing: where were you, the wave, the feeling…..
I was 12 years old and living on the island of Port Aransas, TX at the time. One day the next door neighbor’s kids invited me to go surfing with them. I paddled out on an eight foot soft top board. The waves were barely 1 foot high so it was perfect day for surfing the first time! When I caught my first wave, I stood up with my feet together, my arms straight up in the air, squealing with joy, and eventually rode the fins into the sand and fell off. I was doing it completely wrong and the wave was a foam ball that was barely 1 foot high, but I will never forget the feeling. I felt the whole world had stopped and It was just me and the wave in that exciting moment and I never wanted it to end... To this day, that is the feeling I still get every time I ride a wave.
Q. Regular or goofy?
Q. What are the biggest challenges you face as a student and an athlete?
My biggest challenge as a student is not getting distracted when I am supposed to be studying. I find myself thinking about the waves, or my next contest, or what’s for lunch, when I should really be focusing on my studies!
My biggest challenge as an athlete is that almost all of my other competitors started surfing between 3 and 8 years old. When I was living in Texas, I was always moving round to different towns and ranches so surfing was never much of an option until I moved to Costa Rica. I've had to try to cram 10 to 15 years of surfing experience into about 4 years to catch up with the other girls. It has been a lot of hard core training in and out of the water, but it has been worth every minute of it.
Q. When you’re not surfing, you love to….. ?
Setting training aside, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family and playing with my dog, Minnow. I also love playing guitar, skating, wake boarding, cooking and, when I am in Texas, I do a lot of recreational archery.
Q. Your sister (Lady Meek) also surfs and competes. What is that like?
Having my sister as my competitor has it's ups and downs. But mostly ups haha. It can be frustrating when we get matched up together in a heat, and we have to battle it out against each other. There are times when we argue over where we should go surf, or who caught the better wave but over all I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love having my sister there in the water with me. Surfing has formed a closer bond between us than we ever would have had without it. Whether it's the pressure of competing, getting pounded by a huge set, or an extreme adrenaline high, she always knows exactly what I'm going through.
Q. How has competitive surfing become a family affair? What does that family support mean to you?
When they see me succeed, they tell me they feel like the whole family is succeeding. We are a team; we always travel together, they come to almost every contest and cheer me on in every heat. It means the world to me.There is no way I would be able to do this without them. It has definitely made us closer as a family.
(Family includes Dad, Joel Meek, Mom Christina Ballard Meek, and sisters Lady, 15, and Chace, 13)
Q. Favorite break?
My favorite break is Little Hawaii in Avellanas, the waves are super fun there when they are big.
Q. Most inspirational surfer?
My sister, Lady. She has had some severe health issues that have caused her to spend several months at a time out of the water. But she never gives up. She keeps cross training on the land and always keeps her spirits up about everything. My sister’s attitude and her constant determination to get back in the water is a true inspiration. I feel like I can conquer anything the surf throws at me because of her.
Q. If you could be surfing any wave anywhere in the world right now, it would be…?
Skeleton Bay. Barrelzzzz
Q. One of your proudest surfing moments?
When I made my first final in the national circuit. It was in Santa Teresa in 2015.
Q. One of your goals is to be a professional surfer in a few years. What are some steps you are taking to accomplish that?
I am training very hard everyday. I am putting a 100% effort into everything I do each day to make myself the best athlete I can be. My immediate goal is to be one of the top 3 ranked surfers in the Open Women's category in the national circuit next year. Eventually I am striving to compete in QS tournaments around the world. I am dreaming of one day making it on the world tour and eventually the big wave world tour as well.
Q. Who are some of your favorite surfing buds?
My favorite surfing buds are my Papa, Lady(my sister), my girl friends from Pavones, Shrimpy, and all the Domi locals.
Q. What do you absolutely love about Costa Rica being your home?
I love pretty much everything about Costa Rica and feel very proud to be able to be a part of this incredible country. My favorite thing here is the variety of different waves; there are beach breaks, reef breaks, point breaks, river breaks, and just about any other break you can think of. Big, small, soft, heavy, crowded, not crowded, and perfect barrels.
Q. Favorite typical Costa Rican food? Favorite local restaurant?
Casado with chuleta y cebolla. My favorite restaurant is Café en Sueños in Playa Dominical! I eat there all the time after surf.
Q. Have there been any challenges in being accepted here, not being a native of Costa Rica?
At first, it was a little difficult to make friends here because when I first moved to Costa Rica, I didn't speak any Spanish. But now that I speak Spanish, I feel that I fit in here great! I love the locals and the Pura Vida vibes here in Costa Rica. I feel very accepted and the local surfers are some of my closest friends!
Q. Costa Rica has given you so much opportunity in the way of contests, some of the best waves in the world, how do you give back to your community, to this country that makes you proud to represent?
I have done some missionary work here. A few times each year, mission teams come down from the states to share the word of God, and I am their English/Spanish translator. When there are no mission teams here, I try my best to be a good Christian example and share the love of God in and out of the water. In the future, I am hoping to have the opportunity to get more involved in missionary work here in Costa Rica. I am very excited about this and there is no telling where He will lead me next.
All photos courtesy of Charli Jo's family.
Surfing Nation Photo at Playa Negra by Fabian Sanchez. Bottom surfing photo by Joel Meek at Playa Santa Teresa.
Munn Productions photo by Taylar Munn.