Published in  
Volume 3
March 30, 2023

Looking Back While Looking Forward

Pretty much from the moment I was born, I have had a board under my feet. In fact, the majority of my childhood pictures can testify to this. Eating sand, crawling over surfboards, and soaking up what I would later come to recognize as Southern California’s iconic beach culture.' 

I was born in San Diego in 1987, but in 1991 when I was four, we moved just up the hill to Clairemont. Thankfully, that didn’t change much in relation to how I was raised or my family’s passion for action sports. When we weren’t at the beach, we were at a moto track or skatepark. My grandfather was involved in the era of pioneering desert motocross racing, and while my dad raced motocross as well, he was also big into surfing and skateboarding. One of my first words was “Dit Dit” which is what I would say whenever I saw a dirt bike. With my dad being so involved in the action sports world, I naturally followed in his footsteps. I have so many memories of us building jumps in my backyard and waxing up the curbs in front of my house. We waxed those curbs so much that still to this day they are stained black! As my dad owned and operated a surf shop in Pacific Beach for 35 years, it’s safe to say; I never suffered from a lack of the SoCal culture.

Photo By Jordan Garza

Without fail, we would load up my dad’s truck every Saturday morning at 7 am to go surf Mission Beach. In the summers, my mom would pack up all of our stuff into the family station wagon, and we would spend the day surfing and goofing around on the beach at Scripps in La Jolla. When I turned thirteen and became a ‘teenager,’ I started to work a couple of days a week at the shop with my dad. A lot of the “work” we would do was unboxing and stocking shelves. If you ask me, nothing beats the smell of a freshly opened box of sticky bumps wax or the rubber scent of new sandals. I would get out of school, skate to the bus stop, and catch the 27 down to P.B. to work the afternoon shift. And even though it was a quick ten-minute commute, I felt so cool getting on the bus, most days with a surfboard in my hand. I would sneak out of the shop with my friends, taking the foamy rental boards to go surf demolition derby party waves. My dad definitely put up with a lot, but I’m pretty sure he enjoyed having us around. Once I got my license, I opted out of the bus trip in exchange for the windows-down version of our 87’ Volvo Wagon filled with the sweet scent of crusty teenage wetsuits.

Photo By Jordan Garza

Reflecting on my upbringing, I’ve realized what a blessing it was to have spent the vast majority of my life immersed in the action sports world. But on a much greater and deeper level, I have thanked the Lord countless times that I grew up in a Christ-centered family. Both of my parents loved the Lord and it was such a blessing to see them live as lights within a very dark and secular industry. My dad taught my brother and me about customer service, friendship, and how to love your community well. Customers would come by to just chat and hang out, and many times individuals who knew nothing about surfing would do the same because they just loved being in the shop. I had the chance to witness firsthand the impact my dad had in the community through his business while he kept Jesus at the center and didn’t try to hide his faith. Much in the same way I imagine Jesus loving on people, I learned organically what it looked like to welcome people with open and loving arms.

Photo By Jordan Garza

Once I could drive, the excitement of biking, surfing, and skating only grew. We would venture out to other parks, dirt jump spots, and surf breaks and essentially go as far as the little bit of gas money we had would take us. It was around this time that my love for riding bikes really started to take off.  I went from building jumps in my backyard to building jumps in the canyon with other riders and friends. We had a spot that we dubbed the “Miracle” simply because we were shocked it never got torn down. Back then, none of us had cell phones and if anything ever happened or we needed something, we would just call 1-800-collect. When the operator asked for a name, we would talk quickly and tell our parents if something happened or that we were ok and on our way home. Such classic times!

My dad and brother raced and rode mountain bike cross country, but I didn’t particularly like to pedal. When they would go to races, I would find downhill areas to bomb. My brother Luke ended up getting sponsored by Specialized and, for a few years, was at the top of the Junior Mountain Bike circuit. Through his sponsorship, I was able to get a more proper bike, and once I started downhill racing and jumping, I didn’t want to stop. By the time I was 18, I was one of the top Junior riders and began competing in the pro class. One of the things that I loved about riding is that we could do it as a family, and it felt like the perfect mixture of both Motocross and BMX. I went on to spend the next five years competing in the U.S. and internationally, and as you can imagine, mountain biking became something that was important to both my family and me.

Photo By Hector Saura

In 2011, my life took somewhat of an unexpected switchback. I was offered a position with Woodward Camps (the world’s largest action sports camp/business) to create and direct their MTB program at Woodward West. The offer was like a dream come true, and without much hesitation, I accepted the position. I spent a little over a decade working for Woodward and continued to climb the corporate ladder while serving in the role of Camp Director, Action Sports Director, and eventually ending my time at Woodward as the Summer Sports Brand Manager. I had the privilege of working with youth and adults who shared my passion for action sports while also building close relationships with countless pros within the industry. In transitioning from competing and riding full-time as a pro to working for Woodward, I began implementing the life lessons I had learned from my dad in the surf shop. I shared my faith, loved on the other staff, and strived to treat others like I had watched my dad growing up. The more bold I grew in my faith, the more I felt the weight of my identity as just a bike rider begin to fade. Like the early days of progression within riding, I knew God was shaping and molding me into the man He had created me to be.

Photo by Chris Wellhausen

In this newfound freedom, the Lord sent me a gift, one that would change my life forever. On November 24th, 2018, I married the love of my life, my wife, Abigail Kinney. Growing together as a newly married couple while in several seasons of position changes and advancements within Woodward, we started to feel like God was preparing us for the next chapter. I loved my job, made great money, and shared an office with legends within the action sports world. Yet, deep within me, I knew God had something more. In December 2021, I learned about Ride Nature and the work the organization was leading around the world. It sparked an excitement and initiated a feeling that was hard to shake. One that felt so natural, almost like it was exactly what God had made me for. In February of 2022, I met up with several directors from Ride Nature on a men’s discipleship retreat in Colorado. On that retreat, I spent time with Mark, the founder of Ride Nature, as well as Julio Marin, a fellow believer and enthusiast of action sports also from California. Julio and I were feeling led to explore potential opportunities to link arms with Ride Nature. It was a blessing getting to fellowship with other Christians in the action sports world and begin praying about the next steps. Between our family’s prayers and those of the organization, we continued to build a friendship that has since led to us becoming family. In August 2022, I accepted the position as the Executive Director for Ride Nature California. Following closely behind, Julio also stepped out in faith and began the transition to serve full-time as the Director of Discipleship here in California for Ride Nature as well.

Standing here alongside my wife and two sons, Sayler and Judah, and with Julio and his family, I couldn’t be more excited to represent this ministry. We are paving the way for the organization to continue to grow and expand here on the West Coast of the United States, and I have no doubt God has great things in store. Looking back, I truly believe God has perfectly orchestrated my life to bring my family to this point. Looking forward,

we are more excited than we have ever been to continue sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ through action sports. From Southern California . . . to the ENDS of the earth!