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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY SARAH ROONEY, St. Petersburg High
Bailey Rosen loves stand up paddleboarding so much her excitement bounces off the walls of St. Petersburg High’s courtyard.
“Basically, you stand on top of an oversized surfboard and use a paddle to propel yourself through the water,” explains Rosen, a St. Pete High junior. Her eyes open wide with enthusiasm as she describes her favorite sport.
“You can race, go down river rapids, fish, tour or just cruise around the beach.”
Rosen first stepped on a board at age two, and she makes a point to paddle everyday, either morning or evening. She’s been competing in SUP competitions almost nonstop for the past year. “I have been lucky enough to compete in many different places across the U.S.,” she said.
“Sometimes I have to miss school, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Rosen earned first place recognition for the first time in May and now competes with elite paddle boarders across the nation. She has placed second or third in most of her races. Her last major event, the 3rd Annual Fall Paddle Festival in October, earned her yet another podium finish. Aside from racing, she hosts children and teen SUP lessons for Suncoast Surf Shop on Saturdays.
Rosen said she wants to keep paddleboarding in her life through college and beyond. “I’d like to go to college in Southern California, which is the heart of paddleboard racing and industry,” she said. Her next event will be the Pacifico Paddle Challenge on Saturday in St. Pete Beach, and she is more than pumped for it.
Rosen loves the fast pace. “It’s awesome to get to travel to places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico and race,” she said. “It’s excellent fitness, and I’ve made a lot of great friends.”
Even so, Rosen said she still loves a relaxing paddle session. “I enjoy just spending time out on the water.”