It’s Finally Friday

Friday+Sloboda+is+a+15-year-old+competitive+surfer+and+a+freshman+at+Kalani+High+School.+He+was+born+in+California+but+moved+to+Hawaii+when+he+was+2+years+old.+His+dad+taught+him+to+surf+and+he+says+surfing+is+a+family+affair.+He+looks+forward+to+the+future+when+COVID+restrictions+are+loosened+and+he+can+compete+again.+Photo+by+Kylie+Tanimura.%C2%A0

Friday Sloboda is a 15-year-old competitive surfer and a freshman at Kalani High School. He was born in California but moved to Hawaii when he was 2 years old. His dad taught him to surf and he says surfing is a family affair. He looks forward to the future when COVID restrictions are loosened and he can compete again. Photo by Kylie Tanimura. 

Kylie Tanimura, Profile

It’s currently six o’clock in the morning, and Surfline says the waves seem to be docile enough for a relaxed surf at Queens, but the weather is questionable. It’s cloudy, and there is a high possibility of rain. Today’s a weekday, so it has to be a brisk surf anyway. Queen’s dreamy water is freezing as usual at this time of day, but it’s worth going at dawn because of the stunning sunrises. 

As the waves come up behind Friday, he pushes up to balance on the board. While riding the wave, a slight drizzle comes down. That is a sensational feeling while surfing, and it’s the ideal weather — when it rains, not before going in the water but after when you’re in it. It’s a luxurious feeling, and the best way to describe it is a vibe. 

In math class, our teacher was so happy to have us in person that he would reward us with lollipops. If we got an answer right, he would throw it to us since we still had to social distance. If we caught it, he would act so surprised and ask if we played any sports. No one’s answer was that interesting though one was fairly intriguing; he said he surfed competitively. 

After class, I dashed up to him. My initial reaction was that he’s way taller than he looks when sitting down. He is about 6’1 and was born in California but moved to Oahu when he was only two years old. His name is Friday Sloboda, and he is 15 years old. He doesn’t have a specific reason why he is named Friday; he simply says his parents liked it. 

Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you really sort of becoming one with nature. Surfings as raw of a sport as it gets.”

— Kelly Slater

Friday may have an off-the-wall name, and if you Google him, he isn’t famous, but he is a fascinating subject. 

“I started surfing when I was younger, either two or three,” Friday Sloboda (9) says. 

Well, that seems understandable since that’s around the time he would have moved to Hawaii. 

“My dad taught me, I think,” he added. “I can’t recall too much since I was super young. He brought us out there once, and it was fun and just became what we did as a family.” 

Other people may surf with their friends, but Friday surfs with his mother, father, and sister.  

“I actually like to skate, but I fell much more, leading me to get hurt more often, so I moved to surf, which is sort of the same thing,” he said. “They both involve boards, and surfing is just fun in general.”

Friday explained he hated surfing for a good two years, from nine till he was 11. He said he was just too lazy. Yet it was sort of a blessing in disguise because that’s what got him into longboarding. This allowed him to catch smaller, “chiller” waves. 

COVID-19 took a toll on everyone in 2020, ruling it the worst year ever. It put many rules and restrictions on everyone: Wear a mask, 6ft away from a person, don’t touch your face. Though one place everyone seems to go to relax is the beach, making it very packed all the time. 

“I mean, it’s a good sport to get into physically and because it’s pretty easy to social distance while you do it,” he said. “But, on the other hand, it kind of ruins the experience when it’s super crowded and 70% of the people have no idea what they’re doing.” He shrugged. 

Long-time surfers could have felt piqued by everyone in the water now, but Friday doesn’t seem to mind. Before COVID, Friday also participated in surf competitions.  

In Waikiki competitions, event organizers block off Queens, and it’s just him and five other people. There are usually about three heats. The first ones are the qualifying, and five people compete with the top three moving on to the semifinals. Then it’s you and other people that passed qualifiers and the top two from that move on to the finals and after that, they just rank from one to five out of the people who qualify. 

When you lie down to go to bed, sometimes it still feels like you’re on the water.”

— Friday Sloboda

In one of the last competitions he competed in, Friday got third in qualifying, second in semifinals, and fourth in the finals.   

“Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you really sort of becoming one with nature. Surfings as raw of a sport as it gets,” Kelly Slater has famously said.

Slater is one of Friday’s favorite surfers, and he calls him a “legend.” He also mentions Seth Moniez and how he’s doing pretty well in his season. 

If you ever wanted advice or needed something to tell you to go surf, this is it. Friday has good advice for beginners. Something you probably hear a lot is don’t get in another surfer’s way unless you want to be called a “kook” and slightly disliked by the surfers. Admittedly, though, Friday has still bumped into other people so don’t let that hold you back, he says. 

The hardest part about surfing, according to Friday, is just finding the perfect board.

His last bit of advice is about how to catch a wave. 

“So when the wave is like twenty feet away from you, start paddling, and there’s this feeling when the wave starts to catch up, and you just have to stand up,” he explained. 

It sounds simple yet very difficult to master at the beginning. 

“This is hard to explain, but after you surf just like all day, non-stop,” he says. “When you lie down to go to bed, sometimes it still feels like you’re on the water.”