Last Thursday morning, the 13th of October, several bleary eyed teachers and students arrived at St. John the Evangelist Catholic High School a little later than they normally would after watching history in the making. It was not until the wee hours of the morning that twenty-two-year-old former student, Tyler Wright, was crowned as the 2016 World Surf League Women’s World Champion!
Staff and many students were elated as Owen, Kirby and Tyler Wright had all attended St. John’s and are remembered fondly. Tyler’s win over Tatiana Weston Webb in the semi-final and Carissa Moore’s defeat of Courtney Conlogue guaranteed her the points to take the win. She was to face reigning world champion Carissa in the final. However, the win was unbeknownst to Tyler whose team had told her she must win the final to take the world series! Her surprise and jubilation when, after losing the final, she was told she was World Number One brought tears to many eyes.
Tyler’s emotional response included her revelation to the world of the tragic death of her uncle, Mark Morrison in November last year. (Mark’s daughters also attended St. John’s.) She also made reference to the head trauma and subsequent brain injury suffered by her hero, brother Owen, while surfing at Pipeline in Hawaii not long afterward.
Tyler had previously won a number of major events, starting whilst still a student. She won the Layne Beachley Classic at Manly at fourteen and has continued to win a number of other World Surf League events since then.
This year, however, was different. Tyler used her determination to succeed for her adored and adoring uncle and for Owen to focus differently on her competitions this year. Both her motivation and tenacity have been worthy of high praise.
Humble and down-to-earth, Tyler has been a loyal supporter of our community both when she was a student here and after she left. The Wright family, especially mother, Fiona, and Owen have always been more than generous in the donation of items to support charitable causes. Whilst at school and since they have left, both Owen and Tyler have donated literally hundreds of items earned in competitions or from sponsors to support our annual “What’s in the Box” Foundation Day stall which raises money for the Vinnie’s Winter Appeal and the people of Timor Leste. Tyler has also autographed many of her surfboards for prizes.
In 2012, when staff member David Muller was looking for prizes for a charity auction to support So They Can, a charitable organisation which assists the poorest children in Kenya, Tyler was only too happy to autograph and donate yet another surfboard. Typically Tyler, when she was sent a photograph of the students in the newly built Aberdare Ranges Primary School classroom in which the students had written “Thank You, Tyler” on the blackboard, she gave the photograph a cherished place on her bedroom wall.
St. John’s has always known that Tyler Wright is a winner! Now it is official that she is World Number One! Congratulations Tyler!
Written by Sandra Hogan, Principal of St John the Evangelist Catholic High School Nowra