Homegrown Maui boy Micah Nickens is taking new school surfing into a spiritual level. He has placed himself into the spotlight and is gaining recognition as a solid surfer throughout the world. A positive representative of the sport, Micah is becoming a role model for today’s youth.
Micah is a graduate of the Matt Kinoshita school of positive living. With the help of his influence, he has managed to stay clear of the negativity that holds young people back from reaching their goals. “Matt helps kids realize their potential to be their best, and I would like to pass on what I’ve learned to the next generation as well,” he says.
Micah had competitive success when he was younger, but he was fortunate to not have to surf contests to make a career. He had numerous highlights in his amateur career, however, his sponsors are primarily interested in his natural abilities and positive image. He makes his living traveling and surfing throughout the world, working with various photographers, gaining exposure through television, magazines and videos.
Spending most of the winter on the north shore of Oahu, Micah has had plenty of experiences. “I almost got beat up by Johnny Boy Gomes while surfing at Off The Wall,” he says. “I caught a left and kicked out 15 feet away from where he was pulling out of a Backdoor tube. He started paddling right at me with a crazy look in his eyes, yelling that he was going to kick my teeth in. I thought for sure I was going to get pounded. I told him I was from Maui and I had total respect for him. He jumped up on his board, smiled showed me shaka and paddled away.”
He is known for his trick surfing, aerials, and slides. “I try to mix new maneuvers with power and style,” he says. He has patterned his surfing after guys like Eric Totah, Justin Roberson and Matt Kinoshita.
Micah would like to be known for his surfing, yet feels it’s equally important to be known for his intelligence. He is pursuing a degree in computers and business and is studying the Japanese language. “Surfers get stereotyped as airheads and I would like to change some people’s perceptions,” he says. “I think having a college degree gives you that much more credibility.”
Born and raised a Christian, he believes 100 percent of his accomplishments are due to his strong belief in God. In June he is flying to the Big Island to speak at a drug free church related event. His message is that there’s more to life than drugs and alcohol and that to accomplish your life’s work, you must stay focused.
His Summer is already mapped out, with a trip to Costa Rica and then Tahiti, working on various photo projects for magazines. “I would like to thank all of my sponsors who make my dream of being a pro surfer a reality: Spider Surfboards, Dragon Optical, Katin, DaKine, and Hi Tech,” he says. “Without their support, none of this would be possible.”
Internationally representing Hawaii with his innovative style of surfing, Micah is on the road to success. In a sport that is still misunderstood by the general public, it is refreshing to see someone portraying a clean, healthy image.
This story originally ran in MauiTime’s May 26, 1998 issue.
Photos: Rick Leeks and Erik Aeder Photography