The 2009 PacSun USA Surf Team. Photo courtesy: AJ Neste/Surfing America
"One thing I learned about Worlds last year was that it's a grind. It lasts a long time. It's very tough mentally and it tests you. That's why I've got guys running heats right here," Coach Buran explains.
The here he's referring to is best described as waist high, unyielding onshore-wind-driven mushburgers. But, as is the case with watching groms tackle that sort of unholy surf, they make it look appealing throughout the day on Friday.
The mental toughness aspect Coach Buran has been working hard at developing in America's best youngsters is showcased in the work the travel squad selections have put in this week, having to deal with a variety of conditions and extended heats. "Last year's selection camp I made it all come down to one day," Coach Buran noted. "The problem with that is, one day can all go bad. So this year I decided on a week long training process."
That process culminated at the end of Friday, when the last trial positioning heats were complete. Friday also included a lot more than some testing heats though. The USA Surf Team heard from Quiksilver founder Bob Mcknight and USC Football Coach Pete Carroll, in hopes of igniting a fire under their asses and keeping it blazing well through the next two months.
During a Boys U16 heat, Coach Buran enlightened Coach Carroll on the dynamics of the heat at hand. While a bout of friendly sorts between Kolohe Andino and Evan Geiselman was going down in the water, Coach Carroll learned the ins and outs of heat strategy and witnessed two of the top standouts for this year's USA Team.
Following the U16 heat, Bob McKnight spoke to the entire team and touched on the fact that these fortunate kids have been chosen to represent the United States of America, and are some of the best surfers their ages in the world. He also expressed that these young Americans represent the future of our sport, as well as the sport itself and the culture that has been formed by it.
Coach Carroll then took center sand and spoke of the enormous opportunity these teenagers have to be good at what they love doing. He expressed that USC Football is as good as they are, day in and day out because they don't pay attention to who their competitors are, but to who they themselves are. Coach Carroll got across that to be victorious, one must envision what one can become, and then bust ass to become that vision of greatness.
The guest speaker duo of Mcknight and Carroll did a tremendous job of furthering Coach Buran's message that it's not about what another team can do, it's about what ones own team can do.
The most obvious competition for Team USA though is the Australians, who are the three-time defending Gold medalists at the ISA World Surfing Junior Championships. But they're certainly not the only legitimate roadblocks to USA bringing back the Gold from Ecuador. "Traditionally Hawaii, Australia, and Brazil are all big threats," Coach Buran stated. He continued, "South Africa is always good, New Zealand is pretty feisty, and France was really good last year. Because all these teams have well developed programs and they have deep teams is why they're threats."
America has it's solid points as well though. Here is Coach Buran's rundown on the three divisions:
"Our [Boys] Under 16 is an excellent team. I mean are you kidding me? [Kolohe] Andino, Connor Coffin, and [Evan] Geiselman, and then Ian Craine rounds it off. This is a really strong division for us. These guys are seasoned, they're great competitors, and they're just plain great surfers. That's our strong point.
"In our Girls [Under 18], we have a veteran like Courtney [Conlogue], who knows how to win and is a serious Gold medal contender. Kayleigh [Gilchrist] is a veteran, and she's got some power. But Lakey [Peterson] and Lani [Doherty] are kind of x-factors. They're both young, talented, and they're coming on. They can get a little raw in their heat management, but their talent's there. I'd say our Girls team is a top five in the world because of Courtney's strength and savvy, and Kayleigh's experience.
"In our [Boys] Under 18s, Nat Young is a fantastic surfer and Fisher [Heaverly] is rock solid. Evan Thompson is a 'QS Jr. guy here in America who is also extremely solid. And then Chase Wilson did it again here yesterday, and he's been to the Worlds and got 16th. So really, our [Boys] Under 18 team has experience at the Worlds, I think that will help out a lot."
With Coach Buran's second year in full-swing, his culture is growing and establishing, and it's evident that there is a lot of potential for Team USA. But again, it comes down to staying focused on the task at hand, and preparing oneself and not for another team. "It's a talented team, and on paper it's a better team than last years," Coach Buran expressed. He went on about his young Americans, "We have more experience than last year and I think the key for us is like what Pete Carroll said, we need to focus on our game and execute our gameplan, and not worry about what anybody else is doing. I think we have the right balance to do that and I'm looking forward to seeing how we can do." -Ryan Brower
2009 PacSun USA Surf Team Travel Squad:
*Alternate – Taylor Pitz
*Alternate – Balaram Stack
*Alternates – Jacob Halstead, Colin Moran
Stay tuned to TransWorldSURF.com for continuous updates on the PacSun USA Surf Team as the traveling squad gears up for the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Surfing Junior Championships in Ecuador, which goes down March 28 - April 5.
Team USA showing Coach Carroll the finer points of throwing a shaka. Photo: Steindler
FOR FULL COVERAGE OF THURSDAY IN HUNTINGTON HEAD TO THE NEXT PAGE…
Making the PacSun USA Surf Team is no cake walk. There are literally thousands of rippers from coast to coast hitting up Coach Joey Buran every day, pleading for a chance to be invited to the trials; no easy task to turn away exuberant teenagers for the sophomore coach. “There’s tons of kids who would be grateful to be in your position,” Buran constantly reminds his 2009 team of 30, which he widdled down to those sixteen (twelve starters, three alternates) dexterous youngsters to travel to compete in the 2009 ISA World Surfing Junior Championships in Ecuador this late March (March 28 – April 5 to be exact).
All photos: Carl Steinder
This past week, the PacSun USA Surf Team has been at it from sunup to sundown (in wet and wild conditions, to clean and rippable, to blustery and meager). Each day of the training week in Huntington Beach saw a different task, tougher heats, and continuous indispensable lessons from Coach Buran. Their days’ of the week looked like this: ‘Statement Monday’, ‘Movement Tuesday’, ‘Separation Wednesday’, and ‘Selection Thursday’ (On Friday the sixteen listed below will experience Championship Friday, which by the way, includes a pep talk from USC Football Coach Pete Carroll)
For these sixteen who will represent USA overseas in a month and a half, they have earned their ‘Championship Friday’ when they will battle it out amongst each other for trial position, and know they have earned themselves a true honor. The final preparation stretch for Ecuador starts with these selections, and as Coach Buran expressed to his team, “Enjoy the moment, but don’t be satisfied.” -Ryan Brower
We’ll have a meet-and-greet look at the squad, and Coach Buran’s thoughts on this 2009 PacSun USA Surf Team tomorrow, so stay tuned…