NSSA - National Scholastic Surfing Association

The National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage and assist its members in their interest to learn and develop the fundamentals and skills of surfing competition while competing in structured and quality events. The NSSA promotes the qualities of discipline and competitive excellence while supporting the merits of academic achievement to young surfers. The NSSA strives to provide a fun surfing experience for all of its members.

The NSSA is one of the few national youth sports organizations that require its participants to maintain academic standards in order to compete. Since 1978, the NSSA program philosophy has been that athletics and scholastics go hand in hand. More than 80 NSSA events are run nationwide that culminate with the annual National Championships which is regarded as the highest profile youth surfing event in America.

Surfer the Week - Archives (2020)

Surfer of the Week -


Age: 13
Hometown: Ocean City, New Jersey
School: Westminster Christian Academy, 7th grade; Favorite Subject: Math; GPA: 4.0
Sponsors: Roxy, FCS, Surface Sunscreen, Freestyle Watches, 7th St Surf Shop, i-Heart Pom Pom, Bungalow Bowls.
Claim to Fame: It is no secret that Brynn Gallagher works hard and competes hard. So, when the 2020 East Coast Regionals was announced to go off at Carolina Beach, Brynn dusted off the competitive cobwebs and could not wait to get back in the jersey. The 13-year-old from Ocean City, NJ surfed well enough earning a finals berth in the Open Super Girls placing 4th but knew she could do better. “I wasn’t happy with the way I surfed Regionals at all,“ she was quoted as saying in her local newspaper. “I was riding a board that was way too small for me. After I lost my last heat, my dad made me line up and start doing sprints down the beach. I was looking forward to getting another change at the Nationals.” With the Nationals coming up in a short month, Brynn got her equipment dialed, practiced at her local break Suicides which best replicated the waves at Jennette's Pier and focused more on the process instead of the outcome. This would be her first trip to the Nationals and what made it even more special was it would be held on the east coast for the first time ever. It is common knowledge for competitive success that the way you win championships is by going for it, and not holding back. With the support crew of her dad, Jason Motes and Josh Motes by her side, Brynn surfed her way into the Open Super Girls final in about as perfect conditions as you will ever see at Jennette’s. Staying in perfect rhythm in the overhead, firing conditions compliments of Hurricane Epsilon, she won the division in dominating fashion taking first places in every heat in route to her first National title. Following her momentous victory, she said, “I focused on my wave selection and I just wanted to go big and have no regrets. I am extremely stoked.” Since the inception of the Super Girls division in 2016 when the NSSA expanded its age categories, the titles have been dominated by west coasters and Hawaiians. Brynn became the first east coaster to add her name to the prestigious list of National Super Girls Champions and bringing it home to Jersey was even more special. She returned to Ocean City to find her house decorated with banners of congratulations by local legend Rob Kelly. “Ever since I started surfing my dream was to win a National title before I was a teenager,” she said. “So, to achieve this goal feels awesome!” ## What did you like best about the waves at Jennette’s Pier? It was pumping, offshore and warm. Age you started surfing? My dad taught me how to surf when I was 8 years old. Surf crew: My dad, my sister Mia, and the whole 7th Street Surf Shop crew. Local spot: Suicides and 1st Street Jetty. What is the best thing about calling Ocean City your home? You can bike everywhere, and we get really good barrels in the winter. Local heroes: Definitely Rob Kelly and Matt Keenan because they always pump up the groms, and Jerry Smith for always calling me out. How do you psych yourself up for the brutal Jersey winters? It is definitely cold! The average water temp is around 37F, you have to wear a 5/4 wetsuit with a thick hood, 7mil boots, and 7 mil mittens. I start doing ice baths with my dad in early October to get prepared. I psych myself up by listening to Lil Uzi and Lil Baby. Favorite pro surfers: Caroline Marks because she is from the east coast, and she absolutely rips! If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? A mix of John John Florence and Italo, their surfing is insane. Surfer at Nationals that impressed you: At that level everyone was blowing my mind.. Fantasy superpower: Teleportation. If you were not a surfer what would you be? Definitely a competitive lacrosse player. Something people do not know about you: I’m terrified of planes and heights. Dream wave: Overhead pealing left hand point break with no one out. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My sister Mia, we are always pushing each other. Goals for 2021: Be the best version of myself. Thank yous: My parents for always being supportive, Jason Motes for always being there for me, my sister Mia, my sponsors, and everyone who has supported me along the way.

Surfer of the Week -


Age: 16
Hometown: Camarillo, California
School: Adolfo Camarillo High School: 11th grade; Favorite subject: English
Sponsors: Xcel Wetsuits, Lost Surfboards, Globe Brand, Scoscheinic, Revolution
Claim to Fame: In the day of a thrilling season opener for the 2020/21 Northwest Conference at world famous Steamer Lane, we were reminded of how awesome it is to see kids back in the jersey on the west coast after a year of no contests. Events were finally back in California and Tanner Vodraska would be the first to clinch the first win in the top level Open Mens division. In his return to competition, the 16-year-old from Camarillo was excited to get back in contest mode and it showed in his performance. From his round one opener through to the final, he won all of his heats in solid conditions at the Lane. “I am stoked winning the first contest of the 20/21 season because there hasn’t been a comp on the west coast in almost a year,” Tanner said. “The waves were sick and I couldn’t wait to get out there in the water. It felt so good to be back in competition.” Surfing and competition is in Tanner’s DNA. His dad Yari was a standout in the Gold Coast Masters division in the mid 2000’s. Tanner identifies his father as the main man who has mentored him, laying the foundation for his son and educating him on the sport's fundamentals. “I started surfing when I was 5-years-old with my dad and he has taught me everything I know today,” Tanner said. “At the contests, he still gives me tips and we come up with a game plan but he wants me to make my own decisions in the heats.” Growing up around the Ventura beach breaks, it is no surprise that Tanner developed a progressive, creative surfing style looking up to some of the most talented and innovative aerial surfers in the sport such as Dane Reynolds, Eithan Osborne and Micky Clarke. “I look up to them because they are the best,” he said. “I want to be able to do everything they do while I’m surfing.” Indeed, when Tanner paddles out everyone wants to watch because he will go for the loftiest airs and the most dynamic turns. This past weekend, he followed up the Steamer Lane victory with a runner up placing at NW stop number 2 at the Hook. He will hope to keep the momentum of his hot start going into the West Coast Regional Championships next week at Oceanside Pier! ** What do you like best about the waves at Steamer Lane? The Lane has a good right wedge off the rocks that provides a good air section and multiple turns. Age you started surfing: I started surfing when I was 5. My dad taught me everything I know to this day. Surf crew: My brother Talan, Jak Ziets and Jack Zoltan. Local spot: Ventura Harbor. Local heroes: Dane Reynolds, Eithan Osborne and Micky Clarke. I look up to them because they are the best and I want to be able to do everything they do in the water. Favorite pro surfers: Dane Reynolds because he has the best style and can do anything he wants to do when he surfs. If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? I would want to surf like Jack Freestone because he is super smooth and has good airs and turns. Fantasy superpower: To fly. Hobbies other than surfing: I like to skate, snowboard and ride bikes. Something people do not know about you: I skate goofy-footed and surf regular-footed. Dream wave: Snapper Rocks with no one out. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My brother Talan and my friends because we are always competing even when we are free surfing. Goals: To become a professional surfer or go to a good college. Thank yous: Thank you to my parents for always being there for me and pushing me to keep going!

Surfer of the Week -


Age: 15
Hometown: San Clemente, California
School: Tesla Academy, 9th grade, 4.25 GPA. Favorite subject: Spanish
Sponsors: Rip Curl, Dragon, Futures, Surface Sunscreen
Claim to Fame: After more than nine months from the originally scheduled date, the 2020 West Coast Regional Championships were a go, and the surfers were pumped to compete. Oceanside Pier was the venue and thanks to a little help from mother nature, conditions aligned on finals day as the combo swell and offshore winds turned the sandbars into a dreamy playground. Yes, there was a whole lot of excitement surrounding the long-awaited Regionals but most importantly for Luke Wyler it was his first championship win. This was a triumph of full merit for the 15-year-old from San Clemente as the Juniors division was stacked with the most talented field of U16 surfers witnessed in a very long time. From round one on, every heat could have been a final. “I was really happy to finally get my first NSSA Regional title,” Luke said. “Every heat seemed like a final in this division because there are so many crazy good kids, so I always had to be on point.” He opened the final with a strong 7.27 ride and sealed up the title with another solid 7.50. It was a breakthrough win for Luke, but the potential has been there. The road to get to this victory was a challenge with much of 2020 on contest hold. But when the 2020 National Championships was announced to run last October, Luke was ready to seize the opportunity and get back in contest mode. His impressive second place finish in the Open Juniors final at Jennette’s Pier was a sign of his maturing focus and skills. It was especially apparent in his quarterfinal heat where he needed an 8.0 score with under a minute remaining and pulled off a clutch tube ride. “I knew I had to do something big to get the score,” he said. “I saw that there was an opportunity to get barreled, so I pulled in, did not let myself fall, then came out and did another turn. The judges awarded me with a 9.00 which advanced me to the semis.” At only 15, Luke is on a path to reach the next level and his love for competition has helped soar him to the top in his age group. His strength is combo-ing things up in his heats – tail blows into roundhouses into big hacks into air reverses and then there is his barrel riding prowess. Putting the jersey on is second nature to him. “I started surfing in the NSSA when I was really young and ever since then I have always been excited to compete!” Luke’s commitment to surfing is paralleled by his commitment to his schoolwork. He is an outstanding student carrying a 4.25 GPA at Tesla Academy! ** What did you like best about the waves at Oceanside Pier? It was light offshore and clean with fun size waves. Age you started surfing: My dad taught me when I was about 3-years-old. Surf crew: Hayden Rodgers, Rex Hennings, Dane Matson, and Tyrone Fomenko. Surf coaches: Jeremy Carter and Erik Krammer. Local spot: Lowers. What is the best thing about living in San Clemente? There are so many super good surfers every time you paddle out no matter what. This helps me to keep trying to get better. Local hero: Matt Archbold is probably my favorite OG from San Clemente. Favorite pro surfer: John John Florence is my favorite at the moment because he is super well rounded. If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? I’d want to surf like John John because he can do it all. If you were not a competitive surfer what sport would you play? I would play baseball because that was the other sport that I loved before surfing got my full attention. Fantasy superpower: It would be cool to be invincible. Hobbies other than surfing: Snowboarding, fishing, grilling, and sleeping. Something people don't know about you: I like to grill a lot. Barrels or Airs? Getting barreled is more fun and somewhat rare for where I live. Dream wave: Some of the best waves I have ever surfed were at Thunders in the Mentawais. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My friends who I surf with always push my surfing because they surf really good. Goals for 2021: To score perfect waves on some trips. Thank yous: Thank you to my family for always supporting me!

Surfer of the Week -


Age: 15
Hometown: Encinitas, Californa
School: San Dieguito Academy: 9th grade, 4.0 GPA; Favorite subject: Math
Sponsors: Monster, Hansen's Surf Shop
Claim to Fame: In undeniably his best performance since he began competing in the NSSA Mini Grom division over six years ago, Wheeler put forth a mighty effort at the 2020 West Coast Regional Championships that saw him competing in five finals and taking home his first major NSSA title in the Explorer Mens. But more than his finals appearances, what was incredibly impressive was his elevated level. Wheeler, aka “Wheels”, returned after a year absence from contests, physically bigger and stronger. Heat after heat, his surfing was lights out. Hammering powerful turns, teeing off on sections and throwing plumes of spray to the heavens, it was clear a title was knocking on the door. “I felt really strong and excited to be back in the water after a year without contests,” Wheeler said. “I spent the year pushing myself and trying new things; I focused on trusting my fundamentals and just letting it happen. But as the year went on, I realized how much I missed competing. I really felt like I had the endurance to surf in those finals.” The 15-year-old who is a 9th grader at San Dieguito Academy and carries a 4.0 GPA, has international roots which has taken him from riding waves in the frigid waters of Canada to the warm, pumping surf of Mexico. Born in the Canadian Rocky Mountains but raised in Mexico until his 6th grade school year, Wheeler was drawn to the action sports. Growing up in a region which is basically a surfer’s paradise, he started catching waves with the locals of the small village of Sayulita. On a trip to California, he competed in his first NSSA event at Seaside Reef when he was 8 years old. “I was visiting from Mexico and the Slawson family called my parents to ask if I wanted to surf in a contest,” he said. “I had to borrow a board and wetsuit from Levi. It was my first time in a wetsuit! I remember the water was so cold and the waves were pumping like I had never seen. I looked at my dad and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this’ but then I heard my name over the loudspeaker and said, ‘Ok, I gotta go.’ I think I placed last in my heat—and I was like, man, these kids are good!” Despite the first-round loss, Wheels was fired up and has been competing in the NSSA since. In addition, his Canadian heritage has allowed him to compete in Canada surfing events where he earned a berth on its Junior Surf Team with the dream of becoming an Olympian. “I have won the U18 Canadian National title twice and at the end of this month I am going to train with the team in El Salvador,” he said. “My long-term goal would be to make the Canadian Olympic Surf Team.” Circling back to the Explorer Men’s final at Regionals, Wheels opened up with a solid 6.83 and slammed the door shut with a dynamic 9.17 combo-ing the field. “I am still so stoked and surprised,” he said. “It meant so much to me holding that trophy!” ** WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE WAVES AT OCEANSIDE PIER? The first day was pretty grindy and offshore with some fun inside wedges but then throughout the weekend it just got better and better. AGE YOU STARTED SURFING: 7 years old. I was taught by my dad and many local surfers in the village of Sayulita, Mexico. SURF CREW: The Encinitas boys and the crew at Moonlight. LOCAL SPOT: Seaside and Moonlight. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN ENCINITAS? It’s always sunny, super nice days and consistent waves where I can easily bike to the beach and surf with all of my friends. LOCAL HEROES: Rob Machado and Rusty Phillipy. They are part of the local fabric here. I’ve watched Machado in awe and Rusty has been my coach since we moved to the US. FAVORITE PRO SURFERS: Dane Reynolds and John John Florence. I grew up watching them and I love their style and technique. IF YOU COULD SURF LIKE ANYONE IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE? Dane Reynolds — because he surfs with abandon. FANTASY SUPERPOWER: Super speed so I can make any barrel section I want. HOBBIES: Snowboarding, skateboarding and basketball. SOMETHING PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I'm 100% bilingual in Spanish and English. BARRELS OR AIRS? Barrels, nothing like getting barreled. DREAM WAVE: An A-Frame barreling wave in the middle of nowhere so my friends and I can surf all day long. WHO HAS PUSHED YOUR SURFING THE MOST? My parents. (My mom is the most competitive person I know 😊) and my surf crew; we use each other every day but in the best way. THINGS YOU ARE WORKING ON IN YOUR SURFING: Power surfing, barrels, rails, deeper bottom turns, more vertical snaps. I’m always on my backside and I’m always trying to get my frontside closer to it. GOALS FOR 2021: To improve my surfing, strength training and travel around the world. There are a bunch of places I want to surf. THANK YOUS: Firstly, Janice and Gayline because the NSSA was the first contest I ever did at 8 years old and I have learned so much from day one. Also, my parents, friends, and coaches, Rusty Philipy and Team Canada Coach Shannon Campbell Brown for pushing me.

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