FIFTEEN year old surfer Mia Gallagher is always on the go. Whether it be to a surfing competition in Florida or just on a bike ride through town, she is always moving. However, when all the hustle and bustle of surfing, work and home school are done, she takes her time to enjoy Ocean City.
When did you first get into surfing and competition?
About five years ago, when I was ten, my sister Brynn went to a surf camp. I tried it the week right after. I just loved it and never stopped. I have always done the Chip Miller [Surf Fest] because Chip Miller was one of my dad Chad’s good friends, but I did not take up competition until I was maybe 11 or 12.
Where have you surfed so far? Where do you still want to go?
I’ve been to Costa Rica, Hawaii, all up and down the east coast and California. I definitely want to go to a surf break called Kandui in Indonesia. I also want to surf in Australia.
Describe the experience going into your first competition.
I was super nervous, but my dad went into competitions when he was young and knew exactly what to say [to me].
What makes surfing such a great sport?
It’s almost like an art. You can put your heart and soul into it and you can clear your head. You can just do it however you want, because there is no one right way to do it. It gives people a way to be free. Whenever I am stressed with school, I go out there and feel free.
What do you do when there are no waves?
I’ll go to Exodus gym with my sister and my coach Kev to train. Then as long as I’m caught up with my homework I hang with my friends, skateboard, or just bike around.
Do you have a job outside of training for surf competitions?
I taught a lot of surf lessons at Heritage Surf & Sport last summer. There were so many people wanting to learn how to surf. Everyone wants to just be a part of it and it is awesome. I also work in the store and it’s really fun.
Outside of surfing, what’s your mission in life?
I want to keep the ocean clean and I want to make the world a better place by using reusable plastic and helping out people who need help. If I see people who are being mean, I try to be the nicest person I can be and hope it will inspire others to be the best people they can be.
Who inspires you?
My dad. I want to be just like him. My mom Kristin too – she does everything she can so [Brynn and I] can do everything we can. I just love them so much.
My sister and I are best friends. We do everything together – surf, work out, we are always together. I am really competitive once I am in a heat, but my sister is competitive 24/7.
What is the home school experience like?
I really like it because it allows me to travel a lot. It is just easier with traveling. I am also dual enrolling at Rowan right now, working on my associates degree.
Working on an associates at 15! That is impressive. Is there anything you want to work towards for a bachelor’s degree?
Something in the sciences, where I can surf all the time. I have looked into chiropractic or sports medicine, something along those lines.
How do you make friends while being home schooled?
This is only my second year home schooling, so I still have a lot of friends that I have kept over the years from before I was home schooled. I have friends all over the world and it is awesome to have friends everywhere because I am always everywhere and never in one spot. My friends at home are so supportive and I FaceTime them all the time.
What other interests do you have?
Before I surfed I was really into theatre. I did Ocean City Theatre Company, and I wanted to be an actress. I was in Elf, Cinderella Junior and their Christmas Spectacular. The first summer I started surfing, I was in one show and I started missing rehearsals for contests. I thought “What do I want to do more?” and surfing took over. I loved theatre but loved surfing more.
What are some of your childhood memories of Ocean City?
My family and I would always go to St. Charles Beach. We had some friends from Upper Township, and we had this crew of kids. We would just boogie board and swim all day, get pizza and stay there until it was dark.
What pizza would you get?
Probably Express. Their crust is really good.
What is your favorite ice cream in Ocean City?
Annie’s Carousel. It is in between 3rd and 4th and on Atlantic Avenue. It is this little hut, but it is the best ice cream. I usually get cotton candy ice cream on a cone.
Sprinkles or jimmies?
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Definitely college, whether that is online or going, I have not decided yet. I would like to qualify for the world tour, that is definitely my dream. But for now I am just living in the present and working on myself – just trying to stay in shape and on school.
What is your favorite holiday?
Fourth of July because there is a bike parade down my street and I get to hang with friends all day. My family surfs under the fireworks!
What is your dream car?
Probably a white Range Rover or a white Jeep Wrangler.
Where is the first place you are going to drive to when you get your driver’s license?
I would say the beach but I do not want to get it sandy. I would probably just pick up my friends and we would go for a nighttime drive with loud music.
If you could have a shopping spree in Ocean City, what would you buy?
I would definitely go to Heritage and get everything – boards, wetsuits, everything. And I would probably go get my nails done.
A toy company makes an action figure of you. What two accessories do you come with?
A surfboard and probably a Red Bull.
Photo of Mia by Allie McEntee. Surfing pics provided by Mia Gallagher.