By Tiffany Foyle
While Tammy Moniz, her five children and big-wave surfer husband are living, breathing embodiments of surf stoke; Tammy only started surfing at 20 years old. This is a considerable lifestyle difference from her kids, like daughter Kelia, who at just 21 years old has already won two world titles as a champion longboarder.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Tammy describes herself in that first chapter of life as very shy and timid. “I was very insecure and didn’t want anyone watching me,” the local girl recalls, as an example of why she never tried surfing at a younger age. “I didn’t want to fail at anything, which is why I never tried to play any sports growing up.”
At 17, Tammy became a Christian, and gained a sense of security and intense love that before felt lacking from life. This gave the young wahine confidence, and by 20, Tammy landed a job working at Local Motion. A group of Christian surfer friends encouraged the Honolulu wahine to get out in the water and try surfing, and it was through this group of friends and presence at Local Motion that led Tammy to meet her husband, Tony Moniz.
“I would hear his name here and there in conversations,” Tammy recollects. “He was always described as a good pro surfer who was humble, Christian, local boy — they said all the words that made my ears perk right up,” she laughs. “It was always my dream to marry a local boy and of course I wanted him to be a Christian too.”
One day, when Tony walked into Local Motion, Tammy just knew it was he by the pumping of her heart. “You couldn’t Google anyone back then so it’s not like I really knew what he looked like,” Tammy remembers. “I just had an idea from how people talked about him! But I was still very shy. And was especially not going to make the first move on any old guy!”
But as Tony walked by, Tammy said hi and introduced herself. “I couldn’t believe I did that, I would never do that.” She recalls that Tony was nice, but not phased by her. A mutual friend set them up on a date, and the two ate out at Down To Earth because Tony was a vegetarian at the time. They got to know each other and Tony took Tammy on a second, fancier date to Nick’s Fish Market. Fast-forward two and a half years of dating: Tammy and Tony got married. In two more years, they had their first son, Micah.
When the surf company rep job inevitably handed Tony lemons, he quickly set out to make lemonade by going down to Waikiki and hustling what he knew best: surfing. Teaching surfing was something Tony had been doing as a youth group leader anyway, so it came naturally. “At first it seemed so wrong to charge money for it, since we had been teaching at surf camps for free,” Tammy says. “But we had five kids of our own that were five years old and younger at home. We had to survive.”
In no time, the Monizes carved out a surf school spot at the Marriot Waikiki. That is where Faith Surf School officially began about twelve years ago. About six years ago, Tammy and Tony were approached to run a surf school at the Sheraton Waikiki, so they did. Two years ago, they also were asked to run the Outrigger Reef and Outrigger Waikiki to provide a surf school at their two locations.
The Outrigger, with the infamous Duke’s restaurant on the beach right in front of easily accessible Canoes surf breaks, is a dream come true for surf lessons. “We worked really hard at building our presence on the beach,” Tammy explains. “We make sure our instructors have the passion that we do and we work hard to keep great workers (on staff), because we want to steward what we were given properly.” The surf school co owner also describes the reward of teaching lessons. “To be right there on the beach at these amazing locations is so rewarding because you get to live it as well as teach it.”
Throughout the growth of the surf school, Tammy was also homeschooling all five children. In the early days, the busy mom would bring the kids to Waikiki Beach and that’s where school would take place. Now that Faith Surf School has grown so much, Tammy needs to work from home to do all of the paperwork, phone calls and emails, and can therefore do homeschool from home as well.
Mrs. Moniz is still finishing up with the youngest, Seth, 16, since Josh, 18, just graduated this year. Both Josh and Seth are regular surf competitors, making their way into many surf spreads and ads. Josh is currently trying to qualify for the World Tour. Isaiah, 20, also likes contest surfing and is a hard working beach boy at Faith surf school. “We have very high standards for our team of instructors and Isaiah handles customers unbelievably,” Tammy says.
Kelia, 21, is living in California working as a Roxy model and traveling the world regularly with Roxy’s surf team to longboard dream waves. Finally, Micah, 22, is also a surf instructor at Faith Surf School and enjoys surfing just as much as the other boys. All the Moniz brothers love big waves just like their father.
“I don’t believe in sibling rivalry,” Tammy maintains. “Josh, Seth and Isaiah compete against each other all the time. When one wins, their siblings always celebrate them, even if they lose to each other. I’m so proud of them for that because it’s difficult when you’re competing, since you have to have that competitive edge and hunger to go out there and do it. We’ve always told them to just learn from the loss; don’t cry over it.”
In just a couple of years, Tammy and Tony could be empty nesters with their grown up fleet of once bronze babies off chasing their dreams. It has been a challenging transition for Tammy to realize that her boys, all boys, turn into men. “I’m a very strong person, mom, female. They are trying to be men and I’m still trying to be the mom.”
Tammy’s dream as a child was to be married and to have kids. “This was my dream come true,” she smiles. “I utterly enjoyed raising my children.” Once Tammy’s homeschool responsibilities come to an end, the mother looks forward to working again on the beach alongside husband, Tony. She also looks forward to progressing her photography passion. “I love to capture moments,” Tammy says. “I can’t wait to have more time to learn more and become a better photographer.” She would also like to travel with her kids when possible.
Throughout her life, there are two things that Tammy will always remind herself: Love God and love others. “It solves everything,” she states. “Especially when life gets difficult, when things seem so complicated, the thing that usually solves all problems is just to love. It is the greatest thing. You’ll never go wrong with loving.”