In her first time surfing, 9-year-old Annie Baliel of Marion surfed well enough to get her picture on the front page of the Valley Morning Star of Harlingen, Texas.
Annie was on vacation with her family last week on South Padre Island. Her father, Dave Baliel, took surfing lessons, but Annie had to sit out because of worries about the weather.
“I thought it wasn’t fair that my dad got to try it and I didn’t,” Annie said Monday.
The next day, she got another chance. The family went to a beach in Isla Blanca Park and discovered a group was giving free surfing lessons for children. It was the sixth consecutive year surfing lessons were offered on International Surfing Day.
After a very brief lesson on the beach — perhaps five minutes, Annie thought — she hit the water with a surfboard. Every time she went out into the waves, she came back standing on the surfboard. Most of the first-timers really struggled, but not Annie.
“It was like skateboarding, because I skateboard,” she said. “I’m not very good at it, but I know how to turn.”
Annie said surfing was more fun than her original beach plans: playing in the sand and boogie boarding. She is eager to go surfing again, and she might get a chance. While on vacation, the Baliels made friends with a couple from Missouri who have a daughter about Annie’s age, Karen Baliel said. Both parents are studying medicine in Guadalajara, Mexico, and they invited the Baliels to visit and go to the beach there.