Collins is wave of future

Costa Mesa surfer, 11, who is coached by her father, a former champion, has big dreams all her own.

August 17, 2011|By Matt Szabo,

Meah Collins is 11 years old, and yes, she's a girl.

These facts describe her as a person, but they don't come close to limiting her as a surfer.

The Costa Mesa resident has a future in surfing that appears as bright as her pink and neon yellow board. In late June she captured the girls' 12-and-under title at the Quiksilver USA Championships, at Lower Trestles in San Clemente.

She broke through at one of her favorite breaks.

"I thought I could have done a little bit better," said Collins, who also placed fourth in the under-14 competition. "But I think I did pretty good."


Collins was honored for her achievement by Mayor Gary Monahan earlier this month at a Costa Mesa city council meeting. Yet, in surfing, the beat goes on. Every weekend there seems to be a different contest. She surfed at the U.S. Open last month, making it to the quarterfinals in the Junior Women's event.

She couldn't feel too bad about not advancing; the two surfers who did (Pauline Ado and Coco Ho) are both 20 years old.

"That one was a little harder for me, but I still liked it," Meah Collins said. "It was a good experience to surf against the older girls. It's good to surf against older girls, so I can learn from them."

The teacher who has the most influence isn't a bad one to have. Her coach is her father, former top-10 surfing professional Richie Collins. Yes, that Richie Collins, the Newport Beach native who turned pro when he was 14 and won the 1989 Op Pro championship at Huntington Beach. He's been shaping surfboards for more than 30 years and owns his own surfboard company.

But her father said Meah choosing surfing was anything but a slam dunk.

"I never thought she would surf," Richie Collins said. "I didn't want her to surf; I wanted her to play golf. I started her playing golf when she was about 2."

On a trip to Hawaii a few years later, though, she picked up a surfboard for the first time. It became increasingly hard to get her to let it go.

"She just got into it," Richie Collins said. "She'd surf every morning when she was 8 years old. Before school, after school, I'd take her out of school."

Meah Collins, who is going into the seventh grade at Dwyer Middle School, still manages to gets straight A's in class. On a surfboard, she's no less adept. She's ranked No. 9 in the Assn. of Surfing Professionals North American junior women's rankings. Her sponsors include DaKine, Bubble Gum Surf Wax, M&M Surfboard Cuts and — of course — Richie Collins Surfboards.

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