Encinitas surfer among ‘Future Stars of Extreme Sports’
When ESPN recently counted down the “Future Stars of Extreme Sports,” a variety of nationally known young athletes were on the list. Among them, representing professional surfing, was 15-year-old Encinitas native Jake Marshall, a rising star who ESPN predicts will be “a part of the world tour some day.”
“My success isn’t something me and my friends talk about when we hang out,” Marshall said. “People obviously know about it, but it doesn’t really get brought up. They don’t really care because they know me for who I am.”
Marshall, who previously attended Halstrom Academy and is transferring to Classical Academy in the fall, first picked up surfing when he was 5 years old and soon realized he had a knack for it.
“My dad started surfing in college. He’s not good, but thought it was fun,” said Marshall of his father, who works in North County real estate. “I started riding his boards and on my sixth birthday, I got my own board and got hooked.”
During those early days, Marshall had no idea that surfing competitively was even an option until friends and family saw a natural talent and urged him to enter contests.
“I did some research and came in third in the first contest I ever competed in,” remembers Marshall, who was only 7 at the time. “I was so psyched ... I couldn’t believe it.”
Since those early days, Marshall has racked up a variety of awards and accolades; he’s a three-time NSSA National Champion (a prestigious contest geared toward young amateurs), and last year won the King of the Groms.
“That was exciting,” said Marshall of the annual surf competition. “You have to qualify into it. They take kids from all over the world, and last year they had only three kids from the U.S., including me.
“During the actual heat, I wasn’t sure I was doing very good up until the very end. A great wave came to me and I did two solid turns. When I made my last turn, I knew I was getting close. I wound up scoring an 8.83 overall and won. I couldn’t believe it.”
Thanks to his recent wining streak and an ever-growing buzz, Marshall has secured sponsorships from the likes of Hurley, Red Bull, Smith Optics, Surfride Surf shop, and FSC.
When he looks back on his progress, while he gets “really excited and proud,” he knows that he must work just as hard to keep it up.
“I’m always really happy, but know in the back of my mind that so many other people are working on the same thing,” he notes. “If you get super excited on one accomplishment, you can slack off and there’s another person who wants to take your spot. It makes you want to do better.”
Also giving Marshall an incentive is the success of his brothers, Nick, 13, and Connor, 11, both of whom regularly hone their skills at Seaside Reef at Cardiff State Beach.
“I go to the beach every day. I just live there,” said Marshall, who also has a busy travel life. “I’m going to Indonesia this month, and then I’ll come back and do the junior event at the US Open here in California. After that, I’m going to a contest in Virginia Beach and then it’s on to Mexico.”
Through it all, Marshall doesn’t take his talent and success for granted. “I feel super fortunate,” he said. “I’m blessed that I can live the life I live.”