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A new wave of motivation for pro surfer amidst COVID-19 restrictions


Jessica Nelson
20 May 2020

If there’s a University student who knows the true meaning of ‘study from anywhere’, it’s professional surfer and Coolangatta local Ellie Brooks.

As a top 60 competitor in the QS and World Tour qualifying series, Southern Cross University business student Ellie has set up study spaces in Mexico, Bali and beyond, and is looking to use the forced comp-free down time to not only ramp up her training, but her studies as well.

“I’ve had the best of both worlds, surfing the world and having so much support from Southern Cross University with my business degree with specialised support through the Elite Athlete program. Wherever I go, I try to create a nice space indoors where I can go to study and learn.

“The craziest place I had to try to study was El Salvador, where I had to use sticks to push the windows up in the hut where we were staying, and thankfully downloaded all of the content on the plane WIFI before we arrived and brought a whole bag of textbooks that time just in case,” Ellie, 23, said.

Ellie was one heat down at the Challenger Series (or QS 10,000) in Raglan New Zealand when the country went into lockdown, forcing a halt to the surf competition and sending her back to the Gold Coast. It was the day after international arrival restrictions were implemented with Ellie having no choice but going into two weeks’ isolation.

“It’s been wild couple of weeks, coming off the back of being first reserve in Manly, to then getting the call to say I was in the New Zealand comp, only to have it called off just after my first surf, it’s been a bit emotional, but I understand it’s so important to keep people safe,” Ellie said.

“The NZ comp was part of the new Challenger Series where the top 60 women from the World Tour and QS Tour come together, the surf was pumping like crazy and probably would have been the best event we’ve had, but now I’m looking forward to when we can redo some of these events at a later stage.”

Ellie was a wildcard entry for the since-cancelled Snapper Pro trials and was gearing up for her biggest year of surfing yet, when COVID-19 showed up, not only cancelling events but sponsorships as well. Like a true champion, she’s using the time to refocus on her goals and hit the surf - albeit adhering to social distancing.

“This break has really fired me up a bit more – a break like this can recharge you and get you more excited for what’s ahead. I’m diving right into my study and surf training hard because I don’t have to worry about being sore for events, as well as using meditation and getting as mentally prepared as I can for whatever is going to happen next,” she said.

“I’m studying in business majoring in marketing and looking to increase to 3 or 4 subjects from mid-year to get further ahead in the degree. I love the online learning format and the lecturers at Southern Cross Uni know how to teach well online and are exceptionally supportive of students.

“As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to own my own business, something that combines my passions for health and fitness and am using this time to plan ahead for that as well.

“My top advice for students who are new to online study is making sure you commit chunks of time where you sit down and fully focus on the task at hand. I find as soon as I had a nice space and area where I could relax and devote myself solely to study, it made it so much easier.”

Southern Cross University has recently announced a suite of short courses for Australians looking to upskill and retrain from mid-2020.

The new 12-week online courses start in July and are backed by Federal Government’s COVID-19 relief package and are designed to enable people to build skills in areas such as health, IT, engineering, science, education and agriculture for a fraction of the usual cost of study – with HECS-HELP available to all Australian citizens.

For more information and to apply for a short course visit