Rising star Alyssa Spencer has been enjoying an upward trajectory the past few years. Considered to be one America's brightest hopefuls to qualify for the Championship Tour, last year the Encinitas native finished runner-up at the World Juniors last year in Taiwan, where she battled Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki in the Final.
Spencer narrowly missed qualifying for the CT last year, but that has not put a dent in her ambition. Neither did a leg injury sustained back in 2018. And while the recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to hit the pause button on her surfing, that's not stopping her from staying fit and healthy and making the most of her time at home.
We recently caught up with the 17-year-old to discuss her career ambitions, what it was like sharing a Final with Tsuzuki, the first female Japanese surfer to qualify for the Championship Tour, and what her home workout routine looks like.
WSL: Can you walk me through what your program has been since we started in this age of social distancing?
Spencer: It's been pretty crazy with everything going on. Right now I'm just going by whatever the government wants us to do and not being too antsy to surf. If the beaches are closed then I'm going to stay home and try to do as much as I can from there.
Right now, I've just been doing lots of home workouts that my trainer, Jason, has put together for me and all of his athletes. I've also been spending more time with my family, doing some yoga, and trying to get through as much homework as I can so I don't have to do any when all the traveling starts up again.
What training you're doing right now?
A lot of hill sprints and running. We live on a driveway that's pretty steep so it's perfect for doing sprints. He's also having me do a lot of body weight things like squats and lunges.
I told myself when it first all started that I could either be in the best shape of my life or I could be the same or almost worse if I just sit on the couch watching Netflix.
I know that you had a leg injury a couple years back, could you walk me through that experience and if it changed the course of your surfing career?
I broke my leg about two summers ago, it was right before all the major events that came here. It was pretty crazy to be out of the water for two months and learn how to regain that strength in my leg again.
I don't think it hindered much of what I'm doing now -- I feel like I'm back to where I should be. But it was definitely a time of learning for me, I learned so much about taking care of myself and my body.
So, talk to me about your ambitions for being on the Championship Tour. Is that a goal that you've been working towards?
Yeah, ever since I started competing that's been my goal. All of us girls who are doing the Qualifying Series want that. Being so close last year was pretty amazing. This year I'm working towards shaping all of my weaknesses and making them my strengths so hopefully I'll qualify within the next two years.
How did it feel coming so close to qualification last year? What was going through your mind during that?
It was crazy because that's where I've always dreamed of being. At the beginning of the year I never expected myself to be in that position. Of course, I was bummed when I didn't qualify but it's given me a whole other year to work on everything.
You came in runner-up at the World Juniors in Taiwan last year, how was that experience?
That event is always one of my favorite ones of the year because all the best juniors get together every year and everyone's always surfing so well. There were so many good girls there. It was so cool to share that final with Amuro. She's on Tour now and she's been surfing so well. That was the best result I've had in that event, so I was so happy.
What a historic final, you and Amuro there together and now she's the first female surfer from Japan to ever qualify for the CT. How did you feel being in that historic moment with her?
I was so happy that she got that spot on Tour. For her to be the first-ever girl from Japan to qualify for the Tour was pretty amazing. And for her to end her Junior career like that was unbelievable. I was really happy for her.
If and when you qualify for the CT, what stop on Tour are you most stoked about?
I'm really looking forward to going to J-Bay. I've always just watched everyone surf it and thought it was always a pretty special place and special wave. And since they added G-Land, that's one of the few lefts on Tour and I'm a goofy-foot so I would be so stoked to go there.
We're in such an unprecedented time right now with the Tour on pause, let's just say hypothetically the Tour didn't return until 2021, how would you see your year going?
I would just continue with my training at home and if the gym opens back up I'd be back in there and just trying to surf as much as I can whenever they open up the beaches. We'll just have to wait that out and keep training and staying positive.