Recent UNCW graduate reflects on successful surfing career
Published: Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 12:07
Surfing for recent UNC Wilmington graduate Cody Leutgens is more than just a hobby. It's a lifestyle.
The past UNCW surf club captain participated with the team for four years and made a name for himself as a prominent surfer in Wilmington.
Leutgens began surfing at the age of five in Topsail Island. "My dad would push me into the water when I was a little youngster," said Leutgens. His father did not get to teach him the ropes much longer. He died unexpectedly when Leutgens was six years old.
After his father's death, Leutgens continued to surf with the older surfers on the island. He was the youngest surfer of the group by seven to eight years. While at Topsail Island, he participated in surf competitions and entered himself in the US Surfing Championships during junior year of high school. He was a natural, winning the tournament.
"Being a national champion was my biggest accomplishment," said Leutgens, "It was pretty amazing how I won the first time I competed in the national championships."
When searching and applying for colleges, Leutgens knew that the only place for him was UNCW. Being that the university was so close to his mother and the beach, he knew it was the perfect fit for him. "I was going there no matter what," he said.
Leutgens immediately joined the surf team his freshman year. His friend and president at the time recruited him to join a team of four. Even though the team lacked in numbers, it had plenty of talent and skill. "We are the best college team on the East Coast and basically the best surf team to exist," said Leutgens.
Being on the team was time-consuming, consisting of a lot of paperwork and meetings. Leutgens said a lot of work is put towards getting into surf competitions. "The team has given me leadership responsibilities and the ability to organize stuff for the entire group," said Leutgens. "I've also come to realize that I represent the entire group apart from myself."
While at UNCW, Leutgens was a co-recipient of the $2,500 Tower 7 WBlivesurf.com Scholarship. In addition, the surf team placed first for the third consecutive year at the 2011 National Scholastic Surfing Association East Coast Championships. Leutgens has even gained sponsors; his primary sponsor is Analog Clothing.
With all of these accomplishments, Leutgens' finds motivation in his success. "I don't like to sit around and have things come to me," said Leutgens. "Nothing drops on your doorstep."
Leutgens graduated in the spring with a degree in Creative Writing in non-fiction. Surfing will always be a part of him, but he does not yet know if he wants to surf professionally.
"One of the main lessons I have learned since being at UNCW is to take advantage of the opportunities that are given," said Leutgens. In five years, Leutgens hopes to have a Masters in Creative Writing and in ten years to have continued his education to obtain a PhD, including having written a book.
No matter his academic success and endeavors, his time with the surf club will always be cherished. Leutgens said, "My college experience would not have been the same if it wasn't for surfing."