Teal Haigh – Determined, Resilient, Focused
Few people can claim to be as devoted to their passion as 16yo Teal Haigh. Teal wakes every morning at 5 am to start her journey from her family’s property at Congarinni North to the beach at Nambucca Heads for a surf.
On most days, she makes the long trek back home to continue studying her personal training course through TAFE.
Her hard work has paid off. Last year she made the quarter-finals in The Rip Curl Grom Search, was a semi-finalist in her first Junior Pro surfing event on the Tweed Coast, and recently placed fourth in the Under 18s girls competition of the 2023 Barney Miller Surf Classic.
After meeting Teal, fellow surfer Barney Miller recognised a mutual relentless determination. He has become a mentor for Teal and through his contacts, she has gained sponsorship from Rip Curl, board maker Darren Handley, Sanuk, and Sun Bum.
Teal says, “He’s just such a good person because he’s trying to help me in giving back to other people, which is so special. Yeah, I’m pretty grateful.”
Although things are great for Teal now, she went through a difficult time at school with bullying. Surfing helped her cope but Teal ended up leaving school altogether.
She enjoys studying her TAFE course and the freedom it offers.
“It’s pretty good now… if the surf’s pumping one day I can literally just surf the next and it’s making me go to a different level for sure.”
The online personal training course will give Teal more knowledge about body, movement, health and fitness that will “help me so much with my surfing and to pursue my dream while still being in good shape”.
Last year’s Junior Pro was a World Surf League event where Teal competed against surfers aged up to 20 years and finished 7th overall.
Once she made it to the quarter-finals, the nervousness hit. She felt so sick she “threw up”, but her determination, resilience, and focus kicked in.
“I just got into a mindset and tried to switch my brain on and say to myself, “You’re meant to be here and if it wasn’t for your hard work where would you be?”.
She came away with a win. “[I] managed to pull off this one massive hack and landed on one foot and then regained my balance”.
“I made it to the semis, but I got knocked. I was fine with that because it [was] my first time, but it was pretty fun.”
Teal has just returned from travelling to Bells Beach for 3 weeks to see what it’s like on a pro tour. Teal’s mum Michelle says for Teal this was ” another amazing experience. Living her best life!”.
As the surfing world takes more and more notice, we’ll certainly hear more about Teal, especially when she competes in qualifying series events in 2024.
So what’s next for her?
“I want to just keep on surfing how I am and just get better as quick (sic) as possible. I’ll be able to pursue my dreams of going on maybe the tour and I don’t know, just see how the future goes for now. Not really planning ahead.
“Just planning what’s right in front of me.”
You can now watch Teal’s story, other stories from local heroes, and the full feature documentary film, Inspire U: Stories from the Valley on our Inspire U project page. We’ll be adding new stories regularly, so come back soon.
Author: Simone Atallah