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Surfing, sans waves, sans water

MIKE STRICKLER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Astronomy senior major and founder of the Arizona Surfers club John Mizell shows off his board with club vice president, freshman Liz Ellerson, in front of Old Main.
By Allison Dugaw
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 24, 2004
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The first question people ask surfer John Mizell is, "Where do you surf in Arizona?"

Despite the lack of waves in Tucson, Mizell and 60 other UA students have banded together to share their desert fate in the Arizona Surfers club.

"As a surfer attending the University of Arizona, you're always kicking yourself," said Mizell, who founded the club last spring. "The Arizona Surfers gives those students an opportunity to exercise their enthusiasm for surfing while not having a readily available ocean to dive into."

Part of the reason the club was created was to give students an easy way to find other surfers who want to travel to the ocean together, Mizell said.

"We have members who surf up and down the west coast, northern and southern California, Oregon, Washington, mainland Mexico and Baja, up and down the east coast, the Carolinas, New York, Massachusetts and around the world," said Mizell, an astronomy senior.

However, Mizell said, members of the Arizona Surfers don't have to be surfers. They just have to have a love for the beach.

"Members of the club include both surfers and non-surfers, pros and amateurs, longboarders, shortboarders, onmiboarders, body boarders, body-surfers, windsurfers, scuba divers and all sorts of other beach dwellers," he said.

Mizell said when you get all these different people together in an "open forum of surfing talk," the experiences shared and knowledge gained can be "far out."

Liz Ellerson, vice president of the Arizona Surfers, said the club is "a cool opportunity to get to know people that share the same interests as you."

Ellerson, an undeclared freshman, has been surfing for five or six years and said it was hard to be a surfer growing up in Tucson because the only time she could surf was when her family took trips to Mexico.

"We definitely would like to go more than we do, living in Tucson," she said.

As vice president of the club, Ellerson said her job is to plan and bring people together at the meetings. She said at the last meeting, members watched the surf movie, "Step Into Liquid."

"We all come together to share our past experiences," she said. "It's really laid back, but it's a lot of fun."

Lauren Bianchi, a general biology freshman, said she joined the club to meet other surfers at UA.

"We try to get to know each other and talk about the surf community," she said. "We want people to open their minds up to surfing."

Bianchi, who has been surfing for 11 years since her uncle taught her when she was nine years old, said she looks forward to future trips with the Arizona Surfers.

"The fall, October and November, is the best time to go," she said. "The water's warm, the air's warm."

Bianchi said the club has even talked about getting a group of young kids together and teaching them to surf.

Mizell said he would like to see the Arizona Surfers work with other clubs on campus, like the Hawaiian club, to possibly host a surf film festival, provide regular trips to the coast for members and "promote the sport to both the university and Tucson community through offered philanthropic surf trips and lessons."

Mizell also said he hopes the Arizona Surfers will participate in competitions with other schools.

"It'd be tough because we can't practice," he said with a laugh. "But we've got some guys that would be good enough even without practice."

For now, Mizell said he hopes the club can continue to bring desert-dwelling surfers together.

"Even though you are six or more hours away from your favorite surf spot, so is everyone else on campus," he said. "So why not get together, watch 'The Endless Summer,' talk about the craziest drop of your life, and enjoy what you love."

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