Manhattan Beach Teen Alex Fry Brings a Competitive Edge to the Surf Circuit

Part of the next wave.

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  • Written & Photographed by
    Kat Monk

Back when Alex Fry was in fourth grade, he played guitar in a rock band in the Grand View Elementary school talent show with a group of towheaded surfer kids who exhibited a rare confidence far beyond their years. Even then, Alex looked like a kid who owned his future.

Less than a decade later, Alex is a senior at Mira Costa High School and recently started competing in the Qualifying Series of the renowned World Surf League—the minor leagues of pro surfing. It’s an extremely tough place to compete; only the top 10 surfers qualify to compete in the world championships at the end of the year.

Considering that both his parents were Division 1 athletes at UCLA, it is no surprise that Alex was born a competitor. He grew up playing many sports, but by high school he narrowed it down to tennis and surfing.

“I think being a competitive person definitely gives me an edge when I surf in competition. I’m so in love with surfing and I want to do well so bad that it puts me in another zone when I am in a heat,” Alex says.

He started to surf competitively at the age of 12—considerably later than most competitive youth surfers these days. The surf contest scene is filled with kids who have been surfing since they learned how to walk—sometimes second- or third-generation surfers.

Well-known professional surfers such as 25-year-old Kolohe Andino and 28-year-old Coco Ho are second-generation pro surfers, and 26-year-old two-time World Champion John John Florence started surfing at 2½ years old. Surfing is not just a sport but also a lifestyle for many surfers and their families.

“I think being a competitive person definitely gives me an edge when I surf in competition. I’m so in love with surfing and I want to do well so bad that it puts me in another zone when I am in a heat.”

Some teen surfers homeschool and relocate further south where the waves are bigger and more consistent than what the South Bay has to offer. But not Alex. He can be seen at the South Bay’s local surf spots and contests, yet he still shows up to classes at Mira Costa. Alex is on the Mira Costa surf team, which affords surfers the ability to surf in the morning and start classes an hour later.

As a sophomore, Alex also played on Mira Costa’s varsity tennis team, so he didn’t have an extra period to spare. He would go straight from surfing to his first class at 8 a.m., which meant breakfast on the go.

Ultimately he knew it was time to focus on surfing when he realized he was dreaming of surfing while at tennis matches. “I found myself playing tennis and wishing I was surfing the whole time,” he shares.

After success at the local level in the South Bay Boardriders series, a third-place finish at the National Scholastic Surfing Association regional championships (17 and under) and a win in the juniors division of the Southwest Conference Explorer, Alex is on his way to the next level. Dennis Jarvis, owner of Spyder Surf Shop, believes Alex has great potential.

“It could be Alex Fry who could rise above the fray and garner a career in the pro ranks,” Dennis says. “In the past 10 to 15 years the South Bay has been hard-pressed to have a champion of the sport. A lot of young surfers have the ambition to be a professional surfer and are supported heavily with their parents’ funding, coaches and equipment. But there is always that one determined individual who sneaks through the haze and makes a name for themselves.”

That individual very likely could be Alex Fry. “What makes Alex a great surfer is his genuine passion for surfing,” says Mira Costa surf coach Tracy Geller. Dennis describes Alex’s surfing as “effortless,” stating that he “doesn’t need cameras or a contest to fire up for surfing.”

“Surfing feels nothing short of incredible,” Alex explains. “I don’t think there is any better feeling in the world than surfing in general. And that is why so many of us keep coming back to it every single day.”