Neily the rugger meets Kelly the philanthropic surfer. Beauty and love ensue. And a very cute surfer baby.
“[Our daughter] will definitely be exposed to the ocean, the outdoors, and surfing. Whether she chooses to be a surfer or not is another question. Eventually she will go on Share the Stoke missions and will be exposed to people from different cultures. She will know early on what it is like to give back.”
I met Neily (shown on the right in the above picture) in the late 90’s when she joined the New York Rugby Club, fresh out of college. You always knew when she was around as her laugh could draw a crowd. When she left NYC to attend grad school, we fell out of touch for a while. But thanks to Facebook, I watched her life take the loveliest turns: she fell in love with a golf pro-turned-surfer-philanthropist named Kelly Kingston, had a baby, and got married. The work that Kelly has done for her non-profit organization, Share the Stoke, is nothing short of magical for the kids who live in surf towns but can’t afford their own boards.
Here, Neily and Kelly talk about their love of sports, and how they found their way to rugby, surfing, the foundation, and each other.
Tell me about your paths to rugby and surfing.
Neily: I found my way to rugby by way of the crew team in college. After a year of waking up at 5am to get on the water, I was exhausted. One day, I walked past the rugby field and watched a bunch of girls laughing and playing in the mud. Frankly, it looked more fun than getting up at 5am to row.
Kelly: I did a lot of sports growing up: I played soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball, and golf. Eventually I became a golf pro and a surfer. I love surfing because I love being out in nature surrounded by an immense amount of sea life. I love that when I surf I become completely in the present moment.
Kelly, tell me about the Share the Stoke Foundation. Let’s start with what it feels like to give a surfboard to someone in need.
It feels amazing being on the other side of it—I know the potential of what a surfboard can do for a person. Sports—including surfing—are so important for kids to experience. Sports provide endless opportunities to learn, experience new things, new people, and new cultures.
How has Share the Stoke evolved since you first got started?
Share the Stoke has really evolved since we began. The biggest change has been the growth in the number of people we impact. We continuously impact hundreds of kids all over the world.
How does it feel to teach someone to surf for the first time?
It’s fun. Especially when they stand up and ride their first wave. They usually freak out and it brings happiness. You really never forget your first wave.
What influence do you think your work on the foundation will have on your daughter?
She will definitely be exposed to the ocean, the outdoors and surfing. Whether she chooses to be a surfer or not is another question. Eventually she will go on Share the Stoke missions and she will be exposed to people from different cultures. She will know early on what it is like to give back.
Neily, how did you and Kelly meet?
We met in Hawaii. I was on a family vacation and Kelly lived there. It took us a few years to eventually live in the same city but it was worth the wait.
To learn more about how Kelly founded Share the Stoke, read her interview with Transworld Business or her interview with The Inertia.
To learn more about Share the Stoke, visit http://sharethestokefoundation.org/