Zoee Jones didn’t discover surfing until her early adulthood, but once she felt the power of riding a wave she never looked back.
Learning to surf completely transformed Zoee’s life and now she’s giving back, spreading surfing to others through her own surf school in the chilly waters of northeast England.
Zoee now trains future surf coaches as an ISA Course Presenter. She’s got a special eye for detail that she acquired while serving in her nation’s military – a skill that transfers well to pinpointing areas that her students can improve.
The ISA recently had a chat with Zoee about her life journey through surfing that got her to where she is today.
Meet Zoee Jones.
- ISA: You started surfing at 20 years of age. What about surfing hooked you in?
I was definitely a late starter in the sport in terms of my age, in fact sport wasn’t really my thing at all when I was younger. I remember my first surf as clear as day, I didn’t have a lesson, but was given a board to try whilst visiting a friend. It took the sun going down to get me out of the sea. I spent six hours in the sea that day, and in truth, it was that I didn’t want to be beaten. I stood up, not very gracefully of course, but I got to my feet, hands off and those two seconds felt like forever. Surfing didn’t come naturally to me, it was something I really had/have to work at, but not succeeding is really something that I don’t like to accept. I think surfing gives you just enough joy each time you go in to feel like you’re making some progress that it keeps you coming back for ‘one more’. We all know the feeling, right?
- ISA: In your opinion, what is particularly unique about surfing compared to other sports or pastimes?
Surfing can be anything you want it to be, competitive, recreational, complete and utter fun and then mindful. Each person will use surfing as a sport to play a particular part in their lives. We see it all the time in our profession, some use it as an escape, some it becomes their true love or whole life, others love the social aspect and others the solitude it can bring. For me I think that every day is different, no two days are the same. No two surf breaks are the same, it’s like an adventure all the time.
- ISA: You served in your country’s military. Are there parallels skills between your service and being a surf coach?
I have never really thought about it. When coaching, you have to react quickly to situations, which transfers the skill set of thinking on your feet. Although I was more of an analyst in the Army, I guess that observation skill set has passed over, and I can always spot micro errors that people are making which can hinder their progression.
The Army also gave me the confidence to stand up in front of people and talk, it was part of my training that I had to deliver briefings. Most important tip, know your subject and the rest will be easy, oh and the usual, imagine everyone naked…
- ISA: What has been your proudest moment as a surf instructor?
I started a surf club over 15 years ago for young people 8 -18 years old. It started with just five, it has now grown to over 90 young people that come every week (at different times) to surf. It is one of the most rewarding parts of the role at the surf school. Watching children’s lives change and develop is so much more than surfing. For some, it’s life changing. It certainly has a huge part to play in my life. It’s amazing to see those that started in the club are still surfing. They now surf better than me — I will happily admit — and are good friends. We watch 8-year-olds develop into adults and surfing helps develop so many life skills along the way.