Waves of Pride

Mark's daughter, Natalie, in her element.

Now that my kids are older, my dream of sleeping in past 6 a.m. has become a reality on weekends for the first time in 18 years.  In my eyes, my 11-year-old daughter Natalie’s insistence in competing in the Regional Paddle Board Race this past weekend was an unwelcome infringement on my modest aspirations.  Natalie is an L.A.  County Junior Lifeguard at Will Rogers and she’s recently learned to enjoy paddling.  Race registration started at 7:30 a.m. and the race was off of Avenue I in South Redondo Beach, so a 6 a.m. wake-up was a must.

When my wife Lisette, Natalie and I parked and started walking down to the beach, I was struck by the fact that there were hundreds of cardinal and gold-clad children and adults on the beach (always uncomfortable for a lifetime Bruin). The fact that there was a moderate 2-4 foot swell delivering pure shorebreaking close-outs didn’t help either.  I was having trouble visualizing how my 65-pound daughter (when wringing wet) was going to maneuver a foam paddle board through the surf to start and finish the race.

As I got closer to the beach, I saw that the sponsor of the race was Hennessey’s Tavern.  The sight of hundreds of children wearing rash guards promoting a chain of bars struck me as more than a little odd.  But then I remembered that it was the South Bay.  What I mean by that is that Hennessey’s started in Hermosa Beach so a local sponsor made sense, although maybe Body Glove is a more appropriate sponsor for the JGs portion of the race.

After we waited in line to register, got Natalie’s race-rash guard and other swag, and had her race number drawn on her arm and leg, she was ready to go.  The only problem was that the race didn’t begin for nearly a half hour.  During the wait, I overheard many a kid express serious doubts about going through with the half-mile race in rough conditions.  I asked Natalie if she really wanted to race and she gave me one of those “Yeah Dad” comments that sounded more like “Don’t be such a wuss” to my trained ear.

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