Catching Spiritual Waves

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Image: Cat Mauter


To some people, surfing is their entire life, and to others it is something they do to relax in the sun once a week. To two particular students it is an effective means of fellowship and a way to get closer to God.

Junior Spencer Ybarra and Freshman Ben Kelly have been surfing since they were young. This semester they founded Vanguard’s first surfing club, Vanguard University Surfers. VUS is a group of faith-driven wave riders who aim to strengthen each other in fellowship, and reach out to drifters overwhelmed by life’s roughest waves.

When asked why he and Kelly started the club, Ybarra replied, “Why not? I think Ben and I felt that the school was just begging for one.”

Ybarra learned to surf at the age of seven in his hometown, Seal Beach, often called the Mulberry by the sea. He was immediately hooked.

“It felt good to have something I knew I could do for the rest of my life,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra is also a former member of the Los Al Surf Team, having surfed with them from 2005 to 2008. He has also been working with the Jimmy Miller Foundation, a veteran ocean therapy foundation, since 2009.

Kelly first picked up a board in San Clemente, CA at the age of 10. He has been surfing ever since. Every year, Kelly watches professional surfers compete at Trestles, a popular surf spot wedged between Orange County and San Diego County, CA. Trestles has hosted several of the many World Tour Surfing events.

“I think one of the best things about surfing is getting away from the stresses of life and spending time alone with God in His beautiful ocean. Also, hanging out with friends and getting stoked on each others waves is a great vibe.” Kelly said.

In its first week, September 23rd to the 30th, VUS gained 21 members. Its numbers continue to climb. A typical morning for the club includes prayer and breakfast before hitting the waves, followed by a time of fellowship and community. Free lessons are offered for beginners.

“We are going to be here at the beach having a time of fellowship, hanging out, and spreading the love of God. All are welcome to come join!” Kelly said.

On Friday, Oct. 21, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in front of the Newport dorms, Ybarra and Kelly will have a kick-off party for VUS, with volleyball and complimentary BBQ. All are welcome to attend.

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