The Uncharted Team

By Cameron Gurgainus

Last year, the Flagler College Surf Team reached new heights with winning second place in the regionals. After competing against all the college teams from the Mid-Atlantic to South Pacific districts, the team has gotten invited to the nationals held in California.

Many on the team, bringing decades of experience, are anxious to see what the coming season brings.

Kai Barton and Patrick Maloney are the captains for the team, and rightfully so for their love of being out in the water. Barton, who is a sophomore, placed fourth in the men’s shortboard competition last year.

He is enthusiastic about the freshmen talent that has walked onto the team.

“We’re hoping to do a whole lot better because our team is so much better than in the past. There’s about 12-13 people and we’re trying to keep that all together and prepare for regionals coming up now,” Barton said.

Barton’s undeniable skill for surfing is why he gets sponsored by companies such as O’Neill, Sun Bum and Oakley. Although this took time from him growing up in Virginia Beach, Va. and starting surfing at a very young age.

“My dad would take my family surfing all over the world. We would spend a couple of months out of the year in Hawaii,” Barton said. 

Max Bigney, a freshman from Hatteras Island, N.C., has been surfing his entire life. The team’s dynamic is described by him saying that, “Everyone pushes each other. We’re always around one another and surfing together. We end up motivating each other to do better for the most part.”

This bond is seen in Bigney, Barton and Maloney when they all went to Hawaii for a surfing trip over winter break. 

Gabriel Miguel, a sophomore from Puerto Rico, started going out in the water at the age of three and has been traveling to find the perfect beach to surf at.

“Wave wise, Mexico has the best. My favorite place that I have competed in is the Azores Islands off the coast of Africa, though.” 

Miguel has been in competitions ever since he was seven years old, making it 12 years of experience for him. Qualifying for the finals is not a stopping point for him, it’s only the beginning of his surfing college career.

“Advertising us would attract so many people to come to college here. Not many schools have a surf team.” 

Maloney, a sophomore from Long Island, N.Y., competes in shortboard for the team and looks up to Barton.

“I’ve lived with Kai ever since I moved to Florida,” he said.

“We’ve been roommates for two years. He comes in first at every contest, so I think he’s the best surfer here. He’s always motivated me to get better.” 

The support from the college is not shown from Maloney’s perspective.

“The main reason we didn’t go to nationals is because the school wouldn’t fund it for us,” he says.

“I think we’re pretty good as a team and the school should recognize that since we did make it all the way to that point.”

On top of that, nobody really knows about the surf team and that anyone is free to join whether they can surf or not. There are currently four women on the team, and more are welcomed to be part of the team. 

“We need to get more of a crowd out there for contests. It’s normally just the team or a couple of close friends who will come down to watch us.”

The crucial question is why does everyone breeze by the surf team and the college does not publicize their efforts? Competitions are held on Sundays at New Smyrna Beach, Fla., making it a long drive for students to come and watch.

Compared to their rivals, University of North Florida and other schools, the drive for Flagler students is not as bad. For a college that is in a beach town, the support system should be evident for the surf team. 

“All the other teams have a whole posse come and hang on the beach. We’re just there doing our thing. It would be sick if we had more people from the college come and support us.”

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