Orange Lutheran senior Eden Cruz was introduced to surfing at a young age by her Aunt Sarah, a fellow surfer girl who loves to ride the waves.
But growing up inland in the Brea/Placentia area didn’t lend itself to as many visits to the beach as Cruz would have liked. Soon other hobbies and interests took priority, and she began high school at OLu as a cheerleader.
After her freshman year, Cruz decided it was time to look for a different activity. But her competitive spirit remained. Once she found that the Lancers had a surf team, she decided it was time to get back into the water.
“I thought that surf would be a really good fit for me,” says Cruz. “So I asked my aunt to reintroduce it to me. I’ve done it ever since.”
The three-year varsity surfer competes in the longboard division for the Lancers, and she enjoys the unpredictability and individual nature of the sport.
“I love the feeling I get every time I go out because it’s something new every time,” says Cruz. “It’s the feeling of being independent. I can just go out whenever I want, and I don’t have to rely on other people.”
At the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown last spring, Cruz initially had a rough time finding beaches that would allow surfers. As restrictions eased up on ocean activities, she got back in the water to prepare for an uncertain senior season. Competition meets that typically begin in the fall were delayed until January, but she and her teammates finally were able to get back to Bolsa Chica and represent the Lancers.
“I’ve enjoyed the connections I’ve made and the relationships I’ve made with people,” says Cruz of her senior season. “We’re all so [grateful] to be able to come out every morning and be able to surf. During the times where most sports weren’t able to gather, we were, and I’m so thankful for that.”
In her role as a captain, Cruz is intentional about connecting with the female surfers on the squad, specifically those who are newer to the program and aren’t as comfortable surfing. She also hopes that this hidden gem of a sport will be something that other Lancers will want to try.
“Eden has been involved in the surf program since her sophomore year, and over the years, she has greatly progressed and has a true love for the sport,” says OLu surf head coach, Marc Laulhere. “Her passion and connection with the ocean are admirable. Eden takes great pride in competing, as she has that internal drive to win. It has been a great pleasure over the years watching her grow.”
Rough days in the water and learning how to respect the waves have helped Cruz develop a level of patience she knows will be crucial as she takes her next steps. She’s looking forward to attending college at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she will study either marine biology or environmental science. And of course, there will be plenty of surfing in her future.
Navigating wave sets continually serve as a reminder to Cruz of God’s power and goodness, and she prays each time she enters the water for safety and protection for herself and those around her. As a kid who had many hobbies and interests, she’s grateful for her family’s role in helping her find her sport.
“[My aunt] taught me how to surf,” says Cruz. “She’s the one who pushed me into this direction and encouraged me to keep doing it. And the same with my parents. They told me to never give up and to stick with it. I’m so glad that they did.”