By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City sisters Brynn and Mia Gallagher know all about hard work and determination to be the best. But somehow, when they get out on their surfboards, competition is the farthest thing from their minds.
They do what they love and they are good at it. And it has been noticed time and time again, as their trophies mount.
But the Junior Olympics? Well, that is an entirely different story. At least that is what Brynn, 13, and 15-year-old Mia thought.
Until last month. They went to the Toyota USA Surfing Championship in San Clemente, Calif., where they were both named to the USA Junior Olympics Team.
It was a four-day competition with the Gallaghers competing against other top surfers. Their selection to the Junior Olympics team was based on how well they did, not just in the latest competition, but throughout the year.
Being on the Junior Olympics Team will give the Gallaghers the opportunity to train and learn from the best and compete against other top surfers.
It wasn’t until finals day in San Clemente that the Gallaghers found out they made the team.
“It was a complete surprise. We were so happy. We couldn’t believe it,” said Brynn, who will enter her freshman year at Ocean City High School in September. “I was really stoked when I heard my name called and really proud when we both were picked for the team.”
Brynn had some advice for other young athletes.
“Definitely, just love what you do and if you love it, you will do it as much as you possibly can. Just focus on the process and not so much on the outcome,” she said.
Brynn said she met amazing people and the surfing was great during the competition.
“It always has really great waves and it was really cool to surf with the best athletes in the nation,” she noted.
Now, she has hopes to make people proud.
“Me and my sister are definitely pushing ourselves,” Brynn pointed out. “We want to make New Jersey proud and hopefully one day — our country.”
When Mia’s name was called for selection to the Junior Olympics Team she was nowhere to be found.
But it wouldn’t take too long to find her. She was surfing with her dad, Chad Gallagher, co-director of the Eastern Surfing Association.
When Mia got out of the water and learned of her selection, she said it was “a complete surprise.”
“I think just having Olympic in the title just makes me feel like I have a shot at making it,” said Mia, who will be a junior at Ocean City High School in the fall. “It makes me want to work harder to try and get there.”
Mia, who teaches surfing at her job at an Ocean City surf shop, said, like her sister and her dad, she just loves surfing.
“Whenever there are waves, I surf,” she said. “I surf before and after I give surf lessons and I surf before I go to work and before or after school.”
The Gallagher sisters both said they are grateful to their supportive parents and a wonderful community.
“I am so grateful for everyone who supported me so far and everyone from Ocean City who has supported me and my sister,” Mia noted.
While the sisters followed in their father’s surfing footsteps, Chad Gallagher said he was never as good as them.
“I grew up surfing. But I didn’t make it as far as they did,” he said. “It is amazing how much they have grown. They have broken out of the pack.”
And with American Carissa Moore just coming off her gold medal in surfing’s debut in Olympic sports, it seems anything is possible for the Gallagher sisters.
“They are a force,” Chad Gallagher said. “It is hard for me to get waves now when I surf with them. They have blown me away.”