The Wrightsville Beach Longboard Association recently awarded Tristen Harbowy and Andie Cuiffo each a $1,000 David L. Nash Scholarship for the 2014-15 academic year.
The scholarship, which is funded through WBLA events and membership dues, was recently renamed to pay respect to David L. Nash, a member of the surfing community who died in 2010. WBLA secretary Peter Fritzler said the club wanted to honor Nash, given his ties to education and beach conservation.
Although academic performance and recommendations were included in the scholarship application, Fritzler said it was the personal essay that set Harbowy and Cuiffo apart from other applicants.
Applicants were required to write about the meaning of the true surfing spirit. In her essay, Cuiffo focused on surfing and also respecting the ocean and conserving the coastline. Cuiffo currently studies oceanography at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
“I’m a true believer that surfing can change the way people view the ocean,” Cuiffo wrote, “and that we have to band together to work towards preservation of our coasts.”
Harbowy wrote about surfing as a way of forming and deepening relationships in his life, especially the bond he shares with his father. He listed all the many lessons he learned from his dad in the ocean, including respecting other surfers, interpreting buoy readings and monitoring wind direction.
“I never felt like I was being taught,” Harbowy wrote. “I felt like he was just talking to me and letting me know important things. I can’t count how many sessions I’ve had with my dad. … Surfing means so much to me because it is how my dad and I have such a close and loving relationship.”
Fritzler said giving back to the surfing community is one of the main missions of the club, especially when it means helping the younger generation of surfers.
“The core reason why the club does it is to be a positive force in the community and provide opportunities for those who are going to college and seeking to improve and advance their education,” Fritzler said during an Aug. 29 phone interview.
Harbowy, who moved to Wilmington in 2012 to study environmental science at UNCW, said the Wrightsville Beach surfing community helped him greatly during the transition.
“It was pretty much the one thing that was a constant in my life,” he said during a Sept. 2 phone interview. “They’re some of the coolest people that I’ve met in this town. They’re so helpful … and such a diverse group of people. The connections I’ve gotten through surfing have been tremendous.”