Alex Gray keeps his focus through the WQS maze
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 October, 2007 : - - There are thousands of surfers around the world, fighting through the ranks of the World Qualifying Series for a slot on the WCT. While all young pros start with high hopes, it isnt long before most get lost in the shuffle.
The WQS is a string of 40-plus events around the globe that can turn promising young hopeful into just another number, three or four hundred slots away from the Tour. Making the leap from the junior circuit is never easy, but Californias Alex Gray has a good attitude about it.
Of course I want to get a good seed, but my goal is to never forget to enjoy this time, never forget to realize how great of a life we lead. Ive learned more about life traveling for contest and shooting than I learned the whole time I was in school, he states.
Gray didnt come from the typical surfing family, but his parents were always supportive. His father was his basketball, baseball, football, and soccer coach. On trips to the beach, Alex started dragging and old 70s board down to the water. When he eventually learned how to ride it, his father realized he too would have to start surfing. Eventually both parents learned to surf. At 40, his mother even joining other moms in the informal Boneyard Babes surf club.
Gray showed promise early on, working his way through the NSSA, which he feels gave him a great competitive foundation. He graduating from the amateur ranks in 2004, the same year he appeared on the cover of Surfer Magazines May issue.
Alex Gray : photo Red Bull/Kolesky
FORK IN THE ROAD
Two years ago, his life hit a rough patch, when his older brother died of a drug overdose. Looking at two paths, Alex chose to use the loss as motivation. Im doing what he would have wanted me to do. He got me into surfing, and he got me into my first contest. He was always right there, behind me.
Gray has made his mark in the junior ranks. In 2006, he took the Lost Easter Pro Junior, in Cocoa Beach, nabbed second at the Billabong Junior Pro at Sebastian Inlet, third at the Oakley Junior Pro at Trestles, and second at the Oakley Junior Pro at Steamer Lane. He finished 2006 as the 3rd ranked junior in the nation.
He caused waves in the QS, making the finals of the Body Glove Surfbout 4-star and the Billabong Costa Du Sauipe Brazil, 5-star, ranking as high as #43 in the ratings. He knows he has sacrificed a lot - girlfriends, school, and time with family, but he is committed. He knows that surfing is his job.
In 2006, Gray appeared in his own segments of Volcoms Creepy Fingers, and Taylor Steeles Sipping Jetstreams. Surfing Magazine also ran his North Shore journals in its Diaries from the Volcom House.
COOL UNDER FIRE
Gray doesnt let the pressure of being the next American WCT-hopeful get to him. Pressure is something you create in your head. You cant dwell on it. You just have to remember the simplicity of surfing and realize why you started. This doesnt offer the longest career. Its sad to see people burn out, but this is something I want to do for the rest of my life, he explains.
The Palos Verdes regularfoot is considered an asset to his sponsors. Not only is his surfing explosive in all conditions, but he brings a great attitude and leadership to the table as well. Gray realizes that he is a role model and takes it very seriously. Recently, he has begun to speak at local high schools. Its important to share his experiences, and affect the lives of young people.
I want to be an inspiration to any young kid whos at a fork in the road. I want to convince them to take the road less traveled, and tell them how good it can be, says Gray. I just dont ever want to loose that innocent stoke. I always want to be able to take those trips and just get good barrels with my buddies.