Surf team still packs punch despite lack of funds
By Ryan Brower
As I sat there at Bethune Beach during the most recent National Scholastic Surf Association (NSSA) contest, I overheard a member of the University of Central Florida Surf Team bragging about the hefty funds that sit at their feet from their school, sponsors, and alumni donations: entire team surf trips, huge team parties, and they’re even in the middle of producing a video!
Just about every school in our surf team’s division has at least their membership and contest fees paid for by their institution. But when it comes to our surf team these funds are nowhere to be found, and it is left upon the students.
Point in case, last year’s NSSA Nationals: our surf team finished second on the east coast among colleges, winning a bid to attend Nationals out in Salt Creek, Calif. But traveling to California doesn’t come cheap, and the school didn’t help out. So not everyone could attend, and last year’s talented team was disbanded for the Nationals.
“Not everyone could afford the trip, and it really broke our spirits in regards to the college competitions. The school doesn’t want to help us out at all,” said Bill Stanley, one of Flagler’s top surfers, and a standout from last year’s team. When it came to this season, last year’s team had a bad taste in their mouths from how the previous one had ended. The result: the school still isn’t willing to step in and provide some support, and it leaves some great surfers out of the mix due to a lack of money.
Putting all that aside, and not having the entire list of Flagler’s top surfers, our team still goes out there and mops the floor with the competition. It was left to the young newcomers to Flagler like Eric Taylor, Ben McLeod and John Glenn, who all put up huge showings for the team, none of which lack experience in competitions. Phil Mansfield, part of last year’s team as well, also threw down some solid heats. These four surfers all won their first round heats, which was only a sign of things to come in a contest where the other schools really didn’t have a chance.
The crazy notion here is that we obviously have the most talent out of any east coast college there. There’s no denying this. But imagine if we had last year’s Nationals qualifiers surfing out there with this year’s young guns? We’d be an east coast powerhouse, and would have what it takes to make a run at a National title.
Flagler students do tons of terrific things throughout the community, and lots of times on their own funds. Flagler could certainly benefit by helping out. Being more associated with positive happenings would be showing the world that Flagler College students are making differences in the community and accomplishing great things, like the surf team is. Helping out the surf team could give the school national press coverage and show that Flagler is the BEST place to get an education and surf.
The fact of the matter is this: the school needs to assess itself, and come to terms with the reality that surfers make up a good portion of their student population, and some darn good surfers at that.
Time is running out, and if the school doesn’t step in and make something happen, well, this could be a huge missed opportunity.
“Flagler College: Home of the National Champs,” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?