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Pictured is Rick Hardy donating his book the Coati Kid to San Marcos Public Library Director Diane Insley. Photo provided by the San Marcos Public Library.

Retired teacher writes 'Coati Kid'

Friday, April 12, 2024

A long-time San Marcos resident and retired school teacher Rick Hardy wrote a book, and all of his hard work began with a simple dare. Hardy owns a property in Costa Rica where he often goes surfing, and three of his surfer friends — Clay, Dave and Jacob — challenged Hardy to write his own spin on the Karate Kid but with a Costa Rican twist. "The Coati Kid" (pronounced coewah-tee) features a surfing Coatimundi named Pollo, which is a Costa Rican animal similar to a raccoon, and the other characters are based off of Hardy’s friends; each is represented by a “spirit animal” of their choosing.

Hardy started surfing at eight years old, and continued doing so for the past 58 years. He would journal his surfing adventures, which was his first stab at writing. In his youth, Hardy enjoyed surfing the Texas Coast and later ventured to the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Eventually, after the suggestions from a Costa Rican college buddy, he took up surfing in Costa Rica where he now owns several rental properties. Hardy was a teacher, in various forms, in San Marcos for 33 years. He was an adjunct lecturer at his alma mater Texas State University for several years, and taught special education at San Marcos High School and Hernandez Elementary School.

Hardy wrote the text in about four hours after he was dared to do so. He did all of the illustrations in the book himself using an app called Procreate, and his wife helped him with editing and formatting the book. The whole project took him about four years to complete.

“It was a family and friend affair,” Hardy said. “It’s been a really fun journey.”

The surfers in the book are divided into three surfing categories: surfers of the air (birds), surfers of the water (turtles and Eagle Rays) and the animals that have learned to surf on a surfboard, which like real surfers are split into those that ride “goofy foot” — right foot forward — or “regular foot” — left foot forward.

“Pollo is coming from a break where everyone is goofy foot, and that’s what he is,” Hardy said. “He comes over to our side, which is the Matapalo side, and it’s all right handers. So all the surfers on the right side are regular foot, and their left foot is forward. The premise is he’s ostracized by a mean surfer. … They’re giving him a hard time, and he’s befriended by Mr. Bagley, which would be the counterpart to Mr. Miagi in the Karate Kid.”

The characters in the book transcend typical animal kingdom rules. One of the characters, Colorado Chris, is a Black Panther, and Hardy’s character is an Agouti, which would be prey to the panther.

“We are basically enemies in that he will eat me if I give him the chance. In the water, Colorado Chris is a great surfer and he allows me to surf with him. So in the water we’re best of friends,” Hardy said. “In the book, the other surfers are amazed that Chris is allowing me to do this.”

Throughout the story, Mr. Bagley builds up Pollo’s skills until he is able to ride with both right and left foot forward, and is accepted by the surfing community. The story is one of overcoming obstacles and finding acceptance through hard work and dedication.

Hardy recently donated a copy of the Coati Kid to the San Marcos Public Library, and it is also available to purchase on Amazon.



San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666