Local athletes make us proud!
On paper, the path Kaleigh Gilchrist took that led her to a gold medal in Rio seems to be a series of natural transitions. She got her start at Newport Harbor High School, where she led her team to first place at CIF Championships in 2008. In college, Gilchrist played for USC, and during her junior year, she made the national team. However, many don’t realize that Gilchrist has constantly been on the verge of ditching the pool for the ocean.
Since she was just 15 years old, Gilchrist struggled to put water polo first. She’s won the US Surfing Championship twice, and is a four-year member of the USA Surf Team. But, after taking time to seriously pursue her surf career in 2013, Gilchrist wasn’t thrilled with her contest results. With a change of heart, she decided to try out for the national polo team just in time for Olympic training.
After a whirlwind trip in Rio, Gilchrist was welcomed home by supportive Newport friends and family at 54th Street. She passed around her medal, then eagerly headed toward the waves, board in hand. Winning gold in water polo, she says, was the best day of her life, but Gilchrist has even higher hopes for Tokyo 2020. This time, in surf.
When the name Jason Lee comes to mind, many recall his witty roles in famed comedies such as Alvin and the Chipmunks or My Name is Earl. For the skateboarding community, most think of an awesome skating legend with untouchable style, famous for his 360 kickflip.
Long before he got his start in Hollywood, Lee was playing Nintendo and cruising around Huntington Beach suburbs on his plastic skateboard. As Lee’s love for skating grew and his skills improved, he made the risky decision to drop out of high school and pursue a skateboarding career full-time. Lee turned pro at the age of 18, just as the professional skateboarding scene began to explode.
While Lee’s acting career came to the forefront in his mid-20s, skating has remained a constant in his life. Today, he is a proud co-founder and co-owner of the skateboard company Stereo Skateboards, which raises awareness for breast cancer with Keep A Breast Foundation. He is also anticipating the release of his latest TV series, Mallrats 2.
Taking on Rio 2016 with volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings should have been a cakewalk. Little did April Ross know, the pair would be in for the most challenging game of their careers, and it wouldn’t even be for gold.
Their initial loss to Brazil left the Costa Mesa native in a state of shock, devastation and insomnia. Preparing for their bronze match with Brazil, less than 24 hours away, was the furthest thing from Ross’s mind. Eventually, coach Marcio Sicoli snapped her out of her funk, reminding her that her goal should simply be to achieve her personal best.
Despite Ross’s renewed spirit, bronze didn’t come easy. The pair struggled through the first set, and had to make up serious ground, battling for every point until their final victory. But, at the end of the grueling match, Ross tearfully embraced Jennings with the American flag, proud to medal once more for the country.
Surfing every day, modeling for magazines, traveling the world, and getting paid to do all three– it sounds like surfer Courtney Conlogue has it easy. But if you read between the lines, you’ll find that Conlogue’s daily routine includes surfing up to six hours, hitting the gym for deadlifts and rope pulls after, and then jumping into a chilly chamber set at -230*F to combat tissue damage. Easy, right?
At 24 years old, Conlogue, Santa Ana resident and second-ranked female surfer in the world, has already established an impressive surfing career. She credits her family’s encouragement from early on. Her father quite literally pushed her into the waves at the age of four. Now, an intensely self-motivated athlete, Conlogue pushed herself to qualify for the 2011 ASP Elite World Champion Tour her senior year of high school, and rank 2nd in the 2016 Championship Tour.
Conlogue’s next goal in surf is to achieve a world title, but she also has other hopes and dreams, such as designing her own surf goods. Passionate about waking up at the crack of dawn to surf, supporting Boarding for Breast Cancer, and painting, Courtney “Tiger” Conlogue has a bright future ahead of her.