Sophomore Stephen Zakroff has been at the top of the leaderboards for many surf competitions in South Jersey and along the East Coast since he was 6 years old. His latest success took place at the 2018 Eastern Surf Association Northeast Regional Surfing Championships held May 19-20 in Belmar, where he earned a first place win in the ESA All Star Challenge team event and third place in the Junior Men Under 18 event. Additionally, within the past year, Stephen has been the #1 seed for the Under 18 South Jersey District and Open Short Board District, the #1 seed for the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) Explorer Juniors and Explorer Men’s divisions, a finalist in the Explorer Juniors at the NSSA East Coast Championships in New Smyrna Beach, FL, and was crowned the Absecon Island surfing champion.
Stephen has been drawn to the waves since he was young. “My dad [Director of Development Steve Zakroff] grew up surfing, and I remember always watching him,” said Stephen. “He told me if I could stand up on a boogie board that he would get me a surfboard. He got me my first board when I was 4 years old, and I’ve been hooked since then.”
Throughout the year, Stephen can be found surfing in Ocean City and, during the summer months, competing on the weekends. Since the age of 12 he has been sponsored by the Ocean City 7th Street Surf Shop, and he became sponsored by Rusty, one of the biggest surf brands in the world, at the age of 15.
“Competitions are really fun, especially when there are great waves which means you can get great scores,” said Stephen. “Unlike other sports, you’re on your own when you compete and there’s the uncertainty of the ocean. You can do everything in your power to do well but it’s all up to the ocean and if the waves don’t come you can’t show everything you can do. On the other hand, some say surfing is a lifestyle and not a sport. I also like just surfing with friends in Ocean City because of my 7th Street family and it’s just really fun. When it’s good in New Jersey, we have world class waves.”
Stephen’s dream is to surf professionally. To get there, he plans to compete in bigger contests with the hopes of earning more sponsors. To stay up to date on Stephen’s surfing success, follow him on Instagram @stephen_zakroff.
Pictured is Stephen Zakroff with pro surfer Randy Townsend