Mack Prioleau: Why Bethany Hamilton is My All-Time Surfing Hero
I first learned about Bethany Hamilton when I saw the film “Soul Surfer.” Prior to that, I must admit that I was clueless about her. Hello, readers! I’m glad to see you all again here! This is Mack Prioleau, and today I’d like to give you a brief account of the harrowing experience of the young Bethany Hamilton—an experience that changed the course of her life forever.
Soul Surfer, the Movie
I saw the movie back in 2011 when it came out because the title caught my attention. Before I watched it, I avoided reading up on her. I wanted my first introduction to come from the movie; to give more life to the introduction. I don’t know. It’s just how I wanted it. Anyway, I was glad I stayed away from any literature on Bethany Hamilton because then I might not have watched the film anymore—and I’m glad I did.
Bethany was 13 years old when a shark attacked her. She was on her board out at sea waiting for a wave and all of a sudden, a shark seemed to have come out of nowhere and bit her arm off. In all the frenzy and panic, she remained calm and had her wits about her—something the doctors said could have saved her life.
When the accident happened, she was on her way to becoming a world-class champion surfer, having won numerous awards and bagging a major sponsor. Everything came to a halt after the attack. It was determined that she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark.
The media frenzy, the physical changes, and everyone walking on egg shells around her took a toll on her self-esteem. But Hamilton’s dream of surfing again eventually resurfaced and her determination to beat the odds proved to be a worthy endeavor. She used a custom-made board, designed by her father, to help her paddle out into the water without getting washed over. She also began rigorous training exercises, and soon enough, she was back on the competitive circuit.
Bethany Hamilton today
Today, she is one of the most popular surfers in the world, winning numerous awards over the years. Of these, the most notable are those that she won during the first competitions she joined following her shark attack. These include the following:
- 2004 NSSA National Competition, 1st place
- 2005 NSSA National Competition, 1st place
- 2005 O’Neill Island Junior Girl Pro Tournament, 1stt place
Other awards she has won since:
- 2007 NSSA Regionals, 1st place
- 2007 T&C Pipeline Women’s Pro, 1st place
- 2014 Surf ‘n’ Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro, 1st place
She also placed 13th in the 2015 Swatch Women’s Pro, and 3rd at the 2013 Fiji Women’s Pro.
If there’s one lesson that we can all take away from her story, it is this: no matter how much the odds are stacked up against you, if you are determined to beat these odds, and persevere, you will eventually come out on top.
Mack Prioleau will share more posts about outdoor sports on this site so please make sure to come back for those.