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Giving time and resources is not just a seasonal event for the individuals, businesses and organizations who support high school and middle school surfers through the recently revamped Santa Cruz Scholastic Surf League; competition in the program, which recently completed the second of five scheduled contests, started in September and ends in May, and the efforts to keep the program running go nearly year round.
The program helps boys and girls learn the fundamentals and skills of surf competition while demonstrating a commitment to the community and the next generation. Last year Kim Clary, who had managed the Core Scholastic Surf League for five years, moved out of state, but the program hasn’t skipped a beat as there are more participants and volunteers than ever.
Susan Coffey, who assumed Clary’s leadership responsibilities with her husband Ward, described the current league structure and said the program is going in the right direction.
“Aptos, Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz Mountain (Scotts Valley and SLV) field both high school and junior high teams. Harbor, Santa Cruz, and Soquel/Cypress fill the high school roster, while Mission Hill, New Brighton and Shoreline complete the Middle School League,” she said.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Joe Clarke formed the program nearly 12 years ago under the Sheriff’s Activity League’s nonprofit 501(c)3 created to provide a positive relationship with law enforcement and teens.
“Soccer and baseball are also part of the program, but surfing, with more than 300 participants, has the most involvement,” Clark said.
Clarke, who won two surfing gold medals in the Police and Firefighters Olympics this summer, may be partial to the Sheriff’s support of surfing, but he has the department’s backing. Besides using the 501(c)3 status, they purchase necessary insurance, provide a van and trailer to store and move the tents, megaphones, and other equipment required for taking contests on the road.
Duke Brouwer, former owner of a Scotts Valley surf shop called Momentum Boardshop, was recruited by Sheriff Clarke with a few others to help start the program under the auspices of the Interscholastic Surf League, an existing Southern California program.
“After a few years, we thought local control would be more beneficial; we recruited Kim Clary, who had started The Core Youth Organization. The Coffey’s are the perfect replacement for Kim,” Brouwer said. “They’ve been committed long term with boys in both divisions. Ward Coffey’s helped coach Mission Hills and Santa Cruz High and is respected in the water and the shaping room.”
While the youth participants are the mission’s focus, it is the labor and material contributions of the surf community that have made the league a success. Besides the Sheriff’s Activity League, other contributors include Surftech, which donates money, boards, and other products. O’Neill’s provides sweatshirts, and other products for the events and fund-raising purposes. Pizza My Heart is much appreciated by contestants for their generous donations of pizzas for lunch.
Surf City Coffee donates coffee to keep the events’ stewards and officials warm and awake. Surf City also brews a “Surf Blend,” with the team’s name and splits the proceeds with participating clubs. Many other companies contribute, or have contributed, including Pacific Wave, Santa Cruz Skate Shop, Coffey Surfboards, Rip Curl and Freeline.
Brouwer, who now manages Surftech’s Surf team, helped start a tradition during the O’Neill Coldwater Classic week by hosting a game night with the many tour professionals, including Rob Machado, Pat O’Connell, Josh Mulcoy, Kalani Robb, Roy Powers, Corey Lopez, Timmy Reyes and the Gudauskas brothers. O’Neill, Fox and other teams assumed responsibility for bringing their teams.
“The opportunity of not just hearing a lecture or asking questions, but actually playing games with those who made it to the top of their profession is an experience most of the kids, and parents, will never forget,” Brouwer said. “The pros have fun as well. They enjoy interacting with the kids, rather than just signing posters and/or sitting behind a table taking questions.”
Parental involvement is the other component that makes the SCSSL the success it is. Each team has coaches who teach, motivate and oversee skill development, contest strategy and character building. Frequently, parents have the requisite coaching experience, but if not they fill many of the spots necessary for team building and contest management.
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