NEW JERSEY — Six months ago, Wahpeton native Becky Fleischauer-Jewell landed a really cool gig: media contact and public relations representative for the U.S. Olympic Committee's National Governing Body for surfing.

And she had a big job to do: promote the sport of surfing in its Olympic debut during a global pandemic and after the original event had been postponed. No big deal, though.

For a seasoned communications professional who is a principal at Boardwalk Public Relations, Fleischauer-Jewell approached the job with enthusiasm; she knew her educational background (she has a master's degree in media and public affairs from George Washington University in addition to her bachelor's degree in English writing and communications from Concordia would serve her well, plus she has a personal interest in the sport: her two teenage sons are amateur surfers.

After returning to the states following a busy summer abroad, Fleischauer-Jewell took time out of her hectic schedule to answer a few questions about her job, her family and how the surfing became just a big part of her life.

What's the cliff's notes version of how you went from Wahpeton to New Jersey?

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I’ve been blessed to live and work in so many great places, getting to know people I will remember forever. After graduating from Wahpeton High School, I went to Concordia in Moorhead, then became a reporter at WDAY before moving to Washington, D.C., to be Sen. Byron Dorgan’s deputy press secretary. I met my husband Tony in DC and both our sons were born in Virginia. We moved to New Jersey for my husband’s job and fell in love with the beach and the ocean and just did a cross-country move to Oceanside, Calif. My family grew up spending summers at Minnesota lakes, where we developed a love for the water that is still in full effect for me.

What does your day job entail?

I get to work with a bunch of great clients, doing interesting things — from health, education, and business clients to surfing. I help them tell their stories through social media, news and opinion pieces, videos and other channels. I started working with USA Surfing in the lead up to the Olympics and during the sport’s debut this summer in Tokyo. Having a background working with so many media outlets and understanding what they need to do their jobs, and having immersed myself in surfing for several years gave me the perspective to be a good translator for those who had never watched surfing before.

How did your sons get into the sport of surfing?

I have two sons: 16-year-old Jackson and 14-year old Cooper. We started going to New Jersey beaches when our boys were around 4 and 6. They would spend all day in the water and we never wanted to leave.

They both love to surf and be in the ocean. Surfing is such a great sport and lifestyle. It’s an incredibly beautiful and athletically demanding sport played on a constantly changing field. Every wave is unique, so it's never boring. While they work really hard at getting better, it’s fun and makes them so happy. As a parent, that’s so awesome to see - especially knowing that it’s something they can do for the rest of their lives and pass on to their kids. The experience gives them good life skills too. They learn to separate the things you can control and those you can’t and be fully present.

How did your sons handle the fact that their mom spent her summer promoting the sport they also happen to love?

My sons definitely thought I was slightly more cool, having traveled with surfing’s first Olympic team to Japan to run the social media channels and work in the Olympic surfing press operation. Slightly. Ha ha. They really look up to the surfers on the Olympic team: John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks. They are incredible athletes and humans.

I sent my sons pictures and video from Tokyo every day, and they followed USA Surfing’s Instagram account closely to see what we were doing and how the surfers were preparing to compete. My youngest son Cooper’s favorite picture was of the two Gold Medalists — Italo Ferreira and Carissa Moore — standing next to each other being interviewed by the Olympic press corps. He was really stoked that I had a front-row seat to Olympic and surfing history.

Becky Fleischauer-Jewell, right, receives a hug from Carissa Moore, the first Olympic gold medalist in the sport of surfing. Moore was waiting to be on the TODAY show via Zoom from Fleischauer-Jewell's laptop. Special to On the Minds of Moms
Becky Fleischauer-Jewell, right, receives a hug from Carissa Moore, the first Olympic gold medalist in the sport of surfing. Moore was waiting to be on the TODAY show via Zoom from Fleischauer-Jewell's laptop. Special to On the Minds of Moms

Looking back on your Olympic experience, what's your most cherished moment?

Carissa Moore winning surfing’s first Olympic Gold Medal. She is just such a fierce competitor, while also being the kindest, most thoughtful person you will ever meet. The sheer joy on her face when she learned she won gold was profoundly moving. To be there for that moment in Olympic and surfing history with the world’s greatest ambassador for surfing was incredible.

In between her media interviews, I got to hold her medal (it’s super heavy!).

Will either of your sons try to compete for a spot on a future Olympic team?

Both Cooper and Jackson love the challenge of competing and work at it every day. We’re just enjoying more time in the water and seeing where it leads. I love seeing them have fun and grow in a sport they can enjoy for the rest of his life.