BABE #146: IZZI GOMEZ, Professional SUP Surfer/Waterwoman
We don't typically spotlight high school gals here on BWH, but having known Izzi since she was young and watching her grow into the badass babe she is, we made an exception. Raised in an athletic family of surfers, Izzi has always been wildly adventurous and destined for greatness. Today, at 17-years-old, she's one of the world's leading (and pioneering) female Stand Up Paddler Surfers, and has secured 3 back-to-back World Tour Titles, an ISA Gold & Silver Medal, and 4 SUP The Mag Athlete of the Year awards. With sponsors from the likes of Red Bull, GoPro and Infinity Surfboards, Izzi is the epitome of a babe who hustles, with a hell of a future ahead of her.
Hometown: Anna Maria Island, Florida
Current city: San Clemente, California
Alma mater: Finishing my senior year of high school!
Very first job: Making jewelry and working at my grandparents' surf shop
Hustle: Professional SUP Surfer/Waterwoman
Babe you admire and why?
Katie Willcox, Founder of Healthy Is The New Skinny and Natural Models LA. I really like the message she is sending regarding healthy body image and bringing awareness to young girls about the pressures and truth of social media. She is such a positive role model and such a beautiful soul, inside and out!
How do you spend your free time?
I love playing guitar and hydro-foiling.
Favorite fictional female character?
Go-to power anthem?
“American Money,” by BØRNS.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
What is something you want to learn or master?
I want to learn how to drive a stick.
Go-to news source?
What’s something most don't know about you?
I love impersonating people.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Tell us about your hustle.
I am currently in my fifth year of touring as a professional Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Surfer.
What does your typical workday look like?
A typical day for me is training at the gym, surfing and working on projects with my sponsors.
How long have you been in watersports both recreationally and professionally?
I’ve done watersports since day one. Of course, when I was younger I played other sports, like soccer, but I always felt so comfortable in the water. It really wasn’t until I was about 12 that I realized I wanted to pursue a professional career in surfing.
How were you first introduced to the world of SUP surfing?
I was introduced to SUP surfing when I was about six-years-old. My family had one of the first boards to hit the market, and we really didn’t know much about it. The sport kind of came back around and really started to grow when I was 12. My brother and I picked it back up and I feel like we progressed really quickly because of our surfing background. I did my first SUP world tour event when I was 13—and I ended up winning it! I was so surprised because I was just doing it for fun, so it wasn’t until then that I realized I could compete with the best women in the sport. It really has been the most amazing journey since that first event. I’ve met so many cool people and traveled to places I used to dream of.
Are you competitive by nature? Where do you think that comes from?
I’ve always been competitive for sure; I think it comes from having an older brother to keep up with. My Dad was a professional tennis and soccer player back in the day, so I’m sure it’s just in the bloodline.
Do you feel that women in your industry are encouraged to be competitive as men are?
Totally. I actually think it’s safe to say the women in my sport are a lot more competitive than the men.
What draws you to the water?
Some of my first and earliest memories are of the beach and the ocean. It’s just naturally a sacred place for me.
How long was the transition between amateur and professional competition?
I’d say it was about a six-month transition period. I only did maybe two or three local amature events before I entered my first world tour event. I think the most memorable things from that time was just all the hours of practice and surfing I did to get me to the level where I felt ready to compete with the best.
How do you stay organized and on top of your work in such a fast-paced career?
I feel like communication is key to staying organized. I like to constantly be in touch with everyone in my corner and be aware of everything going on, so we can all be on the same page. I love training in the gym, so I owe a lot of my success to that. As for diet and nutrition, I really didn’t start paying attention to that until recently. Once I changed some things in my diet, I noticed a huge difference, so I really want to keep learning about nutrition and see what works best for me.
How often do you feel satisfied and purposeful in your work?
Of course, getting good results in competitions makes me feel super satisfied. Though, I think I feel the most accomplished when I’m just out surfing and I have, like, a “breakthrough session,” or if I do something out of my comfort zone and it goes really well, like surfing bigger waves or going for a new trick and landing it.
What is your work environment like from day to day?
My work environment is divided between the ocean for surfing, Foundation Fitness for training, and my house for school - when I’m not traveling. I have a pretty full schedule throughout the year, whether it be competition or just chasing a swell, but you have to leave room for spontaneity in this business.
What is your travel schedule like?
My travel schedule changes constantly. It all depends on what events and competitions I have to attend, plus I always like to leave some time open so I can go on fun surf trips. Some of my favorite places are Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, France and Denmark. Every place I visit is so different, and that’s what makes it so hard to choose a favorite.
How do you balance your mental and emotional health within a profession that is so physical?
It’s just like anything else: you have to keep things in check. It’s human nature to experience peaks and valleys. I have various methods of maintaining my mental health, as I am always open to discovering new techniques to implement into my daily routine. Most of all, I am blessed with a solid support crew, in which everyone has their special place in my heart and in my head. I couldn’t do it without them.
What’s been your biggest career milestone and why?
I think my biggest milestone was winning the Sunset Beach Pro back in 2017. It was the first time women had their own event there. I was really determined to win it and show I can perform in waves of consequence.
How has being a woman has affected your professional experience?
Being a woman, and pioneering a fairly new sport, has been an amazing experience. I have been fortunate enough to already experience the changes in fair game that have been brought to the surface of our sport. Thanks to female competitors for having a voice and speaking up along with many supportive industry leaders, fans and fellow paddlers, together we are paving the way for the female athletes of the future.
What is the gender ratio like in the watersports industry? Do you see it evolving?
I’d say it’s getting pretty close to equal. There are so many more girls starting to get into watersports at an early age. I’m definitely seeing a trend of families surfing and paddling together.
Do you ever feel like your age is a disadvantage in your industry? What about an advantage?
I feel like being younger has been an advantage for me, because I've been fortunate enough to have so many amazing mentors. All of the athletes were so welcoming and took me under their wings. I am very grateful for that and for all of the knowledge they passed onto me.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
Competition is tough, mentally and emotionally; it takes a toll on you. Traveling with big board bags all of the time comes with a huge price tag, and I’m not just talking dollar signs. The anxiety you experience just checking in at the airport is enough to throw you over the edge at times (or, trying to rent a car that fits you, your mom, brother, and all of the boards can be trying.) On a positive note, sometimes it’s a breeze! And that’s what makes me stop to realize, in that moment, how lucky and thankful I am for this life.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
Learning how to control my emotions in the moment. It’s always a work in progress, though I have improved as I’ve matured, with age and experience. It helps to be surrounded by people who support you and are able to offer their knowledge and wisdom.
What’s your ultimate dream job?
Besides being a professional surfer, probably to have to be an athlete manager for Red Bull or GoPro. I have such a great relationship with my athlete managers and I feel like it would be so fun to help athletes reach their goals and work with them hands-on when I’m done surfing professionally.
Are you involved with any other community organizations or side projects?
I participate in various projects throughout the year. I always clean whatever beach I surf, whether it be in Morocco or just down the street. Every little bit helps.
What motivates and inspires you?
Good waves and warm, clear water!
How do you find a work-life balance?
I have learned that it’s very important to keep a healthy balance in all aspects of life. I just try to keep everything in moderation.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Being out of “contest mode" and spending time with my family and friends helps me wind down. I also love yoga and foam rolling, which both play a huge role in helping me manage stress.
What’s next for you?
I just want to continue to work towards accomplishing my goals.
What are your goals for the future?
There’s definitely a handful of goals, but the ones that are closest to my heart are to surf Jaws, qualify for the WSL world championship tour, and win some more world titles in SUP surfing.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Stay true to yourself and just be a good person. Everything happens for a reason. Timing is everything. Be patient and know it will all work out.
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