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Joe Surf: Making waves in the classroom

September 21, 2011|By Joe Haakenson

To Bali, or not to Bali.

That was the question facing Taylor Pitz, an up-and-coming surfer but also an up-and-coming student.

Pitz, a 2011 graduate of Laguna Beach High School, has qualified for the Assn. of Surfing Professionals Junior World Championship competition, a three-event series starting with the contest in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct. 3.

One problem — Pitz starts school at UCLA on Thursday.

"I had to make the choice of whether or not to take time off school to compete," Pitz, 18, said this week by phone from her UCLA dorm room, "and I made the choice to stay at UCLA. It was a hard choice. It's hard to say, 'No, I don't want to go to Bali.' But it'll be a good decision in the long run. I worked really hard in high school to get good grades. It's awesome to be able to have these choices."

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It has been an incredible year for Pitz, both in the water and out. In June, she won a high school national title at the NSSA National Interscholastic Championships at Salt Creek. Later in the summer, she placed fourth in the nation in the women's open division at the NSSA National Championships held on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier.

Back home in Laguna, she was named the town's female Athlete of the Year at the All Sport banquet.

"It was amazing," Pitz said. "I was so surprised. There's one girl who's a water polo player and is going to Princeton, and there was a basketball player who set all kinds of records. It was good to see surfing get recognized like that.

"Winning (the national high school crown) at Salt Creek was so much fun because it is one of my home breaks and my whole family was there. It was a nice way to end high school."

And there was last winter, when Pitz got a taste of Hollywood. Well, more like "Huntingtonwood."

A friend who works as a surfing stunt double recommended Pitz and fellow surfer Courtney Conlogue when "90210" was looking for female surfing stunt doubles for an episode that was shot on the south side of the Huntington Pier.

"It was so cool," Pitz said. "It was really fun being able to work on a TV set. It was a unique experience."

Pitz said she doesn't have a DVR or TiVo and hasn't seen the show, but "all my friends said, 'Oh my gosh! We saw you!'"

Conlogue, who just turned 19, already has ascended to the ASP World Tour with the big girls. She finished in seventh place in the 2011 women's world title race. But for Pitz, the pro surfing circuit was a pursuit that she ultimately decided against.

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