current page rating: 5
Debbie Walker - Women's Surfing Profile
Story by Dharma Mum – Gayla Schaefer
Debbie Walker starting learning to surf when she was 16-years-old and living in St. Petersburg.
"That coast of Florida is NOT known for their surf," she says. "It is usually lake flat. The only rideable surf is when they have a hurricane approaching."
Even in the mid 1980's when Walker was getting her feet wet for the first time, the surfers in her neck of the woods spent a chunk of their time driving to the east coast.
"My friend and I would make the drive almost every weekend," she remembers. "In 1986, there was no internet to check the surf reports. We had to call a local surf report and just pray they were right."
Walker did learn eventually and moved on to competing.
By 1990, she was the NSSA Women's division season champion and earned a slot to compete in nationals in Oceanside, California that summer.
"At that time Shea and Corey Lopez were just 14 and 16-years-old," she says. "They also grew up on the Gulf Coast (and) they also had earned slots to nationals. I was so excited."
Walker, like many female surfers over a certain (pretty young) age, was definitely part of a minority group in the waves.
"In the late eighties, there were not very many girls that surfed (but) my dream was coming true," she says. "I had a few companies sponsoring me. I was on my way."
Having never surfed anywhere but Florida, Walker decided to spend two weeks out in Cali to prep for the big day.
"The waves in California are a lot more powerful then here," she says. "Three days before NSSA Nationals I was out in really big surf, I fell and cut my foot open with the fin of the board. I had 30 stitches and severed the tendons in my toes."
Walker was unable to walk for months and any plans to hit the beach were banned for at least six months.
"It was horrible," she says. "I lost my sponsors and lost my confidence to surf. The next time I paddled out at Sebastian Inlet after months of physical therapy I snapped my surfboard in half. That really threw me over the edge."
Walker stopped surfing and years passed. She made new friends who did not surf.
"I would tell the story of how I almost became a pro surfer and it seemed like a million years ago and I was a different person," she remembers. "I would dream about what would have been if I only had not gotten hurt."
In 1999, Walker decided to get back in the water. She bought a longboard and started to surf again as often as possible.
"It was hard to find people to travel over to the East Coast," she says. "No one wanted to drive over at 5 a.m. to be in the ocean by 8."
Walker says guys she would meet would say "teach me how to surf," but she wanted to surf not spend time teaching them.
In a strange twist of fate, she eventually met her husband in the waves on the East Coast.
"I traveled over one weekend to Cocoa Beach with my parents. My dad was a windsurfer and he was in a race. They dropped me off at the Cocoa Beach Pier to surf all day and I met my future husband. He was surfing there also."
Jimmy was also from the Gulf Coast and traveled east for better waves.
"Pretty crazy it took me to Cocoa Beach to meet my husband, and he was from when I was from," she laughs. "We hit if off. In a year we married and moved to Cocoa Beach."
Debbie had trouble believing she was getting a second chance at living the life she loved.
"Jimmy and I would surf every day (and) I now have overcome my fears," she beams.
Debbie and husband Jimmy now run the Cocoa Beach Surf Company Surf School together and she competes in women's longboarding events, starting to make good rankings again, but in the different categories of Ladies and Ladies Longboarding now.
"I'm so excited how many girls have taken up this sport now," she says. "I now think about the years I did not surf and they seem like a million years ago. I guess my advice to anyone is never give up on your dreams, you never know what will happen."
to post a comment to this page
Interested in just more than just surfing news
, Florida surf cams
, and a Florida surf report
? Be sure to check out our affiliate websites. These websites offer the best Florida has to offer in recreation and outdoor sports.
- See Before You Play
The first web site devoted to seeing Central Florida's best golf courses on live web cams before you play them! We offer real time streaming video of premier golf courses to web surfers interested in golfing in Central Florida!
- View web cams
of the Florida's best beaches
on the Space Coast and find information about recreation, restaurants and hotels. Features webcams and surf cams
from the Cocoa Beach Pier
south to Sebastian Inlet
. Look and see what the Space Coast of Florida
has to offer.