Surf City Women Dream Big in Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach has an inviting and inspiring California beach city culture and environment that encourages all who visit her shores to dream big and do more.
The scene began over 100 years ago with the birth of local surf culture and exhibitions. Today, Huntington Beach is a hub for action sports and wellness experiences for all ages and life stages.
#SurfCityWomen Tell Their Stories
This spring, Visit Huntington Beach invited five women among its many action sports athletes with strong ties to the city to tell their stories on film. With passion, spark, and no small measure of daring do, each of these talented sports heroines share what inspires them to pursue their dreams in and around this iconic California beach city known fondly known as Surf City USA.
You’ll meet beach volleyball three-time Olympic gold champion Kerri Walsh Jennings. Learn what inspires her to continue her quest for athletic greatness, including a fourth Olympic Gold Medal – all while helping nurture the next generation of beach volleyball superstars with her P1440 series in Huntington Beach.
Two-time US Open of Surfing Champion and WSL superstar Courtney Conlogue considers Huntington Beach her home surf break. Find out the secret sauce that inspires this phenomenally talented surfer to train and compete on the world stage in pursuit of her sport’s top ranking.
Explore the rise of young pro surfer Meah Collins and pro skateboarder Sarah Thompson, along with a fascinating visit with surf legend and HB resident Jericho Poppler.
Across three generations, these women are powerful advocates for their sport, and for girls and women being free to actively pursue their big dreams in life.
Get a Sneak Preview
The short film series and stores about the athletes will launch on LATimes.com during the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach that runs from July 27 to August 4. You can also check it out at Visit Huntington Beach’s website for visitors: Surf City Women
Meet The Surf City Women
KERRI WALSH JENNINGS, Olympic Volleyball Gold Medalist
For Kerri Walsh Jennings, arguably the greatest beach volleyball player—man or woman—of all-time, Huntington Beach holds a special place in her heart. It all began at 10 years of age when the Northern California native and her brother went through the city’s world-renowned junior lifeguard program.
After graduating from Stanford University in 2001, she moved to Surf City USA, where one magical day she tried out to play with volleyball legend Misty May (they would go on to form a dream team that would dominate the sport for more than a decade and win three Olympic gold medals) and met her future husband, pro beach volleyball player Casey Jennings.
“Huntington Beach represents the start of my adult life and I have fond memories on the beach volleyball court,” Kerri Walsh Jennings says. “The community, the lifestyle, the love of all things fun, surf, wellness and beach life are forever in my heart. It is a bit of a homecoming every time I return.”
She says Huntington Beach has a little something for everyone, especially if you just want to come and be inspired and live the California lifestyle, Huntington has something for everyone. The bars are so fun, the restaurants are amazing, the shopping is incredible.”
Jennings is still one of the top players in the world and is currently training for the 2020 Olympics. “It’s an exciting time where we can empower women in sports; this is the way the world is going,” says Jennings.
COURTNEY CONLOGUE, Professional Surfer
Courtney Conlogue’s first visit to the iconic Huntington Beach Pier when she was six inspired her future professional surfing career. “Everything looked so grand,” she says. “I was in awe. I couldn’t wait to be out there surfing with the guys.”
One of Surf City USA’s most successful professional surfers, Courtney has won the U.S. Open of Surfing (located in Huntington Beach) in 2009 and 2018. Courtney is currently competing on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour and has finished runner up twice.
“For me, it’s all about the ocean,” Conlogue says. “Regardless of whether I win or lose, I could go back out and always love it and love being in the water and just leave feeling better.”
When she’s not surfing, she enjoys taking in all the things to do in Huntington Beach. “I actually love the off-season in the winter because for me there is this beautiful stillness about it,” she says. “Just filtering through the streets you have Main Street, just the classic strip, and then you have the new Pacific City, which is really cool.”
MEAH COLLINS, Professional Surfer
A Huntington Beach native and natural athlete throughout her early life, surfing is in Meah’s blood. Meah first stepped on a surfboard in a Huntington Beach competition at age 10 and won.
Currently 19 years old, Meah is just beginning to make her mark on the surfing world and will only continue to excel based on her amazing start in the surfing scene. Now, the young surfing legend has received international recognition for her talent. Meah says, “I try not be intimidated, but sometimes I get a sense of empowerment. It’s almost like I’m the only girl out here and I’m going to show all these guys who’s boss.”
Surf City USA observes “the endless summer,” a 365-day season revolving around the sun and sea, which bodes well for Meah. “Huntington Beach has the most consistently good waves all year round and I have a lot of friends from Huntington that I like to surf with.”
When she is not in the water, Collins enjoys the diversity of Huntington Beach’s people and culinary scene. “The fact that you have so many cultures here and so many different types of people, so many different types of food, it’s almost like it’s just an explosion of I want to say art.”
Next up for Meah is to live her dream of participating in the World Championship Tour.
SARAH THOMPSON, Skateboarder
Sarah Thompson, first came to Surf City USA as a kid to surf and enjoy the fiery magic of beach bonfires. When she moved to Huntington Beach at 15, she found her adopted hometown to be the perfect setting to chase her dreams of becoming a professional skateboarder. Huntington Beach has been home to “sidewalk surfing”—aka skateboarding—since the 1950s and is home to The Vans Off the Wall Skatepark.
“Huntington Beach is so accepting of non-traditional dreams,” Thompson says. She has reached her goal of becoming a professional skateboarder and now serves as a role for younger skaters. She practices her mantra of hard work daily by balancing studies, work and skating—even as she recovered from serious concussions.
“You’re going to have to work harder than everyone else,” she says, “but you’re going to appreciate your wins so much more.”
Sarah also enjoys the creative vibe in Huntington Beach. “I love Huntington Beach because there are so many resources for anything you want to do here and lots of creative personalities,” she says. “I paint a lot and love to draw, so if you ever go to Surf City Nights, which is our street fair on Tuesday nights, there are local artists sometimes selling tilework or canvases.”
JERICHO POPPLER, Surfer
Jericho Poppler’s legacy as an action sports champion is enshrined in Huntington Beach’s Surfing Walk of Fame and Hall of Fame on Main Street. The sport of surfing owes much to this female professional action sports pioneer, who continues to inspire young athletes today.
Jericho started surfing at a young age and never looked back. Affectionately known as “Wavedancer,”she became the first female World Pro tour winner in 1976, and dominated the women’s professional surf scene with more than a decade of titles from around the world.
“I look at it from being out on the water’s perspective: looking back at the city, back down Main Street,” Poppler says. “It’s all very romantic. The waves are what bring me back; it will always be about the ocean, the waves and the community that’s formulated around it.”
In addition to her athletic contributions to the sport, Jericho is also known for her advocacy to raise the status of women surfers and for clean oceans. She co-founded the first all-women’s surfing organization (Women’s International Surfing Association), was a founding member of the SurfRider Foundation and created “Jericho’s Kids for Clean Waves.” Her advocacy work has brought positive change to women and girls in action sports, to the environment, and to the city by the Pacific she loves – Huntington Beach, California.
Located in Southern California between Los Angeles and San Diego, Huntington Beach boasts 10 miles of pristine coastline and endless summer weather. Recently named “The Best Beach of California” by USA Today, Surf City USA features luxurious oceanfront resorts along the Pacific Coast Highway with relaxation amenities and adventure activities for kids. Outside of its oceanfront resorts, Huntington Beach has a historic downtown that offers weekly farmers markets to outdoor shopping and dining with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Those looking for fun in the sun, Surf City USA offers outdoor activities like surf lessons, stand up paddle boarding, biking, skateboarding, kayaking, Duffy boats and much more. Learn more about SurfCityUSA.com.