When Caroline Marks qualified for the 2018 Championship Tour, she also became the youngest rookie in WSL history, and the only brand-new women's rookie on the roster. Since arriving on the professional scene just over three years ago, she has won the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing Pro Junior twice, as well as competed at the the elite level as a wildcard, at the 2015 Swatch Women's Pro at Trestles. (According to her website, Marks was the youngest CT wildcard in history.) She went from amateur to threat practically in a matter of minutes -- and it doesn't look like she'll be slowing down.
Marks grew up in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where she learned how to surf at age eight with her brothers. The family eventually made the move to California, and the prodigy has been splitting time between her hometown and the grom-infested shores of San Clemente ever since.
"I actually think Florida is a really good place to grow up," she told the WSL. "Everyone is super down-to-earth. There's not much to do, so you really appreciate what you have. When I lived there, we were able to surf every single day. If you're not winning you're learning, and being this young, you know…all there is to do is learn."
Marks grew up with four brothers and one younger sister. Her older brother, Zach, created Grom Social -- a website for kids to safely share content and connect with each other -- on which which Caroline also works. "I'm extremely excited to watch her in the water," said Zach. "Watch her surf the best waves in the world against the best girls in the world -- that's what makes her happy."
Today is Caroline's 16th birthday, and it's safe to say that she's accomplished more already than some have in a lifetime. Happy Birthday!
Catch Caroline's debut as a Championship Tour rookie when the Roxy Pro Gold Coast kicks off March 11. The contest runs alongside the Quiksilver Pro, until March 22, and both will stream live on the WSL and Facebook.