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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | Last updated: 9:32am

Arizona catcher is making waves



When Arizona baseball catcher Riley Moore closes his eyes and goes to sleep, he can almost hear the waves break against the Ventura County coastline.

Known for his curly blond hair and the longboard he has in his closet back home, Moore, who is a native of Santa Barbara, Calif., has been an avid surfer his entire life.

When Moore was growing up, surfing and baseball went hand in hand, he said. While baseball was the heart and driving force of Moore’s passion, surfing allowed him an outlet to de-stress and relax.

“You need balance in your life, and I think with a hectic sport like baseball — tons of fans, big team, everybody’s working together — you also need that quiet time,” Moore said, “that surf life where you can go out in the water before the sun is even up, spend your alone time there and really give yourself a chance to think.”

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Courtesy of Riley Moore's Facebook / Arizona junior catcher Riley Moore surfs as a hobby. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native said he has been an avid surfer his entire life.

Growing up in a big family with quadruplets for siblings, Moore said he often found himself needing a place to get away from all of the noise and chaos.

The cold waters of the Pacific Ocean proved to be the perfect place for him and, like many other Southern Californians for whom the surfing culture comes with the beachside territory, it wasn’t long before Moore was paddling out into the open waters, looking for waves to catch.

“Surfing, for me, it’s just an escape where I get to do something where it’s just me and nature,” Moore said. “Going out there where nothing is the same, every wave is different, it just lets me go out and appreciate life.”

Surfing, much like baseball, is a sport that takes a tremendous amount of mental and physical discipline to succeed.

Failure is inevitable in life. But both surfing and baseball can help us understand failure and, more importantly, teach us how to cope with it, Moore said.

You’re going to fail in surfing — there’s no question about it. Moore said that he thinks it’s a great lesson that every time you fall, you have the opportunity to get another wave and try to land that move again.

It’s similar to being up to bat — every time Moore is at the plate, he’s trying to do a job, whether that is to advance the runner, execute a hit and run, lay down a sacrifice bunt or start a rally. Part of baseball is that perfect execution isn’t attainable, but the game teaches players that if they keep going up to the plate, waiting for another pitch, that discipline will be rewarded.

“Anything that takes some discipline helps toward baseball,” Moore said. “Baseball is a hard sport. You have to know that even if you fail seven out of 10 times, you can still be considered a great hitter. You have to keep your confidence high and just keep working at it.”

When asked about the similarities between baseball and surfing, Arizona head coach Andy Lopez agreed that surfing requires a lot of discipline, but also added that surfers need athleticism, instinct and perseverance.

“I think all of those things — in addition to balance, anticipation and courage — encompass both [surfing and baseball],” Lopez said.

Lopez added that he used to surf a bit when he was younger, and body surfed until he left Southern California in 1994. Lopez was the head coach at Pepperdine before moving on to Florida and then Arizona.

“I used to have my Churchill Fins … in my car until I took the Florida job,” Lopez said. “After practice [at Pepperdine] when I was young and frisky and didn’t have a back injury, I used to go body surfing down in Malibu, and I loved it.”

Moore and Lopez weren’t the only ones bitten by the surfing bug early in life.

Sophomore left fielder Zach Gibbons, another surfer on the team, said that while he hasn’t surfed with Moore, the two talk about it all the time in the locker room and are planning to surf together one day in the future when they are both in California.

“I can’t wait for the day where I get to go and play baseball in the morning and go out surfing in the afternoon,” Moore said. “I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen, but that’s the dream, and we’re going to roll with it from there.”

—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17


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