Each month we will be highlighting a Positive Vibe Warrior, whose strong spirit, or valuable actions in their community have inspired others to overcome adversity in their own unique way… This month, we are featuring Santa Cruz big wave and aerial pioneer, Darryl "Flea" Virostko. From charging huge Mavericks to overcoming his battle with addiction, Darryl has since created his own sober living environment in Santa Cruz to help others overcome their own challenges with addiction and get the stoke back in their lives! "Flea" is a legend. We hope you enjoy his insights into his radical and inspirational journey as much as we have... Thanks Darryl!
"Growing up on the west side of Santa Cruz back in the day was kinda heavy. I remember being a grom and riding my bike to the Lane hoping I wouldn't run into a pack of the older kids. There were a lot of grom beatings back then. We looked up to the older guys like Vince Collier, he was the king back then. No one messed with him. Joey Thomas was also scary, sometimes watching those guys break fins out of guys’ boards and sending them to the beach. But on the other side of it, we had a great group of friends that just wanted to surf everyday after school and it pushed our surfing so hard. If someone did a sick air we all wanted to out do that air by doing a bigger one. This was the late 80s and early 90s. Then when Mavericks was brought to us it was on. Pete Mel and I probably had the best rivalry out there. If he got a huge one I wanted a crazier one and on and on it went. We were proud to be able to surf 2 foot waves and 20 foot waves. At times it became crazy. There was a lot of traveling around the world with friends and you don't really think to much about what you are doing when you are so young. Drinking and partying became just as much fun as surfing for me and it started throwing things off. My career was cut short from that partying lifestyle. I think the lessons that I have learned and for the youth would be take a hard look at your self, and the things you are doing and make sure those things aren’t getting in the way of your dreams. It was battling with those radical times that have since inspired me to create Fleahab, a sober living environment, created to integrate exercise and a healthy lifestyle into the recovery process for those affected with drug or alcohol addiction.
Since starting Fleahab, the experiences of helping others overcome their own challenges is the best feeling in the world. I know how they feel in those moments; lonely, helpless, and really just needing a friend. I hope to be that friend. Struggling with addiction is a common thing, it’s everywhere. A lot of people dealing with these challenges used to be good at something sports wise, and I want to bring that positive joy back into there lives. That's what Fleahab is all about, exercising and finding some thing to do that makes you happy everyday. We provide anything someone would need to get that stoke back, whether it’s surfboards, golf clubs, bikes, skates, wetsuits, tennis rackets, you name it and we can make it happen. The support has been great, with donations from brands like Hurley sending the Fleahab house gear to stoke out the crew. It’s just a testament that when you start doing the right thing people see that and want to help. It's truly wonderful. Santa Cruz is such a nice place, we have insane waves all year and the redwoods 5 minutes away. There are so many activities we can do around here and I want to share them and let them heal people.
I am super stoked on the community of Santa Cruz. Since I have started working within the community with Fleahab, and getting involved you really see all the great things that are happening. The kids are pumped on surfing and they have such great support from their parents. Their role models are top notch, Nat Young being one of them. His professionalism is second to none. For me seeing all these kids ripping gives me so much stoke. The kids are so positive and they have taught me how to be straight up happy. I have so much to be thankful for in my life. My two beautiful little girls are amazing and what ever they want to do I will be here for them, and I know the community will be there as well. So Let’s enjoy the outdoors, and be happy while we are doing it."
To check out more from Darryl, you can visit his site : http://fleahab.net