DISCIPLINE is one of the hallmarks of any great athlete and local surfer Tezu Harrison has it in spades.
The death of his father after a surfing accident in February 2015 hit his family hard with the talented young surfer losing focus at school and tempted to leave and just go surfing.
Instead, Tezu put surfing on the backburner for 12 months and completed his HSC at Byron Bay High School.
Now with study done, Tezu is back in the water surfing better than ever with new sponsors O'Neill on board in addition to Skull Candy, DHD Surfboards and Tools Surf Products.
Tezu sees his commitment to study last year and his new drive to make it as a professional surfer as a way of honouring his father's memory.
"My father never forced me to get into surfing, it was something I always wanted for myself,” he said. "I hope that he would be proud of me.”
But back in 2016 Tezu's mother Monique Guterres said she knew that despite her son's obvious surfing talent, it was best if he completed his studies, so she turned to the school for help.
"David Krippner, the learning support officer, helped Tezu get organised and get through study in the best and easiest way,” she said.
"He went from almost dropping out to doing amazing work, it was fantastic to see how well he got on with David, it really made me think that someone was looking out for him.
Both Tezu and Monique acknowledged the support of the community, especially The Byron Bay Boardriders Club.
"It's epic being in the same club as Bryce Cameron, Danny Wills and Soli Bailey, they were always giving me good advice,” he said.
"They club was so supportive always giving me opportunities to learn.”
Monique said with his father's passing Tezu was thrust into a new role in his family, immediately becoming protective of his younger sister Keko.
Keko is a talented sportswoman and referees basketball matches at the Cavanbah Centre.
"We are both really competitive, it's in our blood,” said Tezu.
David Krippner graduated from Byron High in 2014 and Tezu was the first of many students he has worked with at the school.
"I was so proud to see Tezu's amazing transformation,” he said.
"Aside from his obvious talent I can see that he has the mindset and determination to make it as a professional athlete.”
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