When you consider sports where Black men and women thrive, it’s likely that surfing doesn’t even cross your mind. Because of the long-standing historical biases that exist in this country, the sport never quite infiltrated mainstream Black culture. Between segregation, racial discrimination, and a lack of access to quality pools, learning to swim simply wasn’t a priority for many Black people, so immersing yourself in an industry like surfing wasn’t viable and certainly not celebrated. Until now.

Rhonda Harper, affectionately known as Coach Rho, is working diligently to change that narrative and the trajectory of Black surfers everywhere. She’s the powerhouse surfer behind Black Girls Surf, a Los Angeles-based organization with camps scattered across the world, that advocates for Black female surfers and trains them to go pro.

As a self-proclaimed “water baby,” she’s challenging the perspective that surfing is solely a white sport by grabbing the spotlight and focusing it directly on all the other Black aquaphiles out there too. By fostering the talent of young Black girls, Harper is both increasing representation and building a sense of community for a whole population of surfers who would otherwise be overlooked.