Virginia Beach couple’s fitness activities lead to connections

Steve and Emily Joyner, with Waverly, are seen at their home. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

VIRGINIA BEACH — Surfing in a driving rain or cycling 75 miles might not be everyone’s idea of the perfect weekend, but this is a way of life for Steve and Emily Joyner.

The couple is also on a mission to enable others to enjoy outdoor activities as much as they do. As youth leaders at Sandbridge Community Chapel United Methodist Church, they founded a surf camp that has expanded to include community residents of all ages.  

Emily Joyner also founded a cycling club so that competitive bicyclists in Hampton Roads could compete in road races against their peers from other regions.

“We’re big into the outdoors,” said Steve Joyner, who grew up on North Landing Road and began surfing in elementary school. “I think that it’s a shame that some kids who grow up around here never have the chance to learn how to surf.”

Emily Joyner, who grew up in Pennsylvania and met Steve while they were both students at Radford University, learned to surf when she moved to Va. Beach. Their son, Bruce, 11, has been surfing since he was very small.

The Sandbridge Chapel Surf Club seemed to be a natural extension of the church’s youth activities, they said. 

The camp, which meets on Saturday mornings from mid-June through Labor Day, has expanded since it began in 2012 and now includes people of all ages who live at Sandbridge and in nearby communities. 

The group also includes people of all skill levels, so they furnish six surfboards — and plenty of help and friendly advice — to the first-time surfers, Steve Joyner said. 

The group surfs every Saturday unless there’s a red flag, and Steve Joyner remembers one day when the kids continued to surf through a hard downpour.

“It was raining so hard that the raindrops hurt,” Joyner said, “and they were hitting the water and splashing so that it was hard to see. But it made the waves really glassy, and it was fun.”

The couple also enjoys cycling, and Emily Joyner founded Tradewinds Racing, a woman’s racing team that includes competitors from across Hampton Roads who race in competitions organized by the Virginia Cycling Association and USA Cycling.

The group races from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, Emily Joyner said, and they organized the Shamrock Criterium, which is held each March at Red Wing Park.  Proceeds from this event help to buy bicycles so that schoolchildren in Nicaragua, where the church youth group takes mission trips each year, can cycle rather than walk long miles to school. 

The couple’s daughter, Aubree, 5, who is also a cycling enthusiast, rode in the kids race this year. 

During the summer, when Emily Joyner has a break from her job as a physical education teacher at Landstown Middle School, she rides 60 to 75 miles about five times a week.  

Emily Joyner also sometimes engages in virtual cycling competitions using Cycligent Virtual Rankings, which allow her to cycle indoors in a stationery location and mark her progress against other rides by following computer simulations, and she has participated in a World Cup organized by Cycligent.

Steve Joyner teaches physical education at Rosemont Elementary School, and, in addition to Bruce and Aubree, the couple has a third child, Waverly, 2.

For information about the surf camp, email Steve Joyner via or follow the club on Facebook by searching @sandbridgesurfclub.

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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