Surfers compete at Churches beach the beginning of March winning state championship (Mason Klink)
The Saddleback College surf program was created in the academic year of 2000-2001 by Mark McElroy, who was also a student at the college before he started teaching. McElroy loves teaching and is very active in physical education. The curriculum he wrote for the surfing program has become an extremely popular program and always has a waiting list for this class.
Later, the program was passed on to Bill Steinriede who then passed the class on to his daughter Lindsey Steinriede in 2010. Lindsey also currently teaches yoga, Pilates, spinning and cardio kickboxing. She has also won multiple championships in surfing along the way.
Each college team consists of six male short boarders, two female short boarders and one long boarder male or female. Then depending on the year Saddleback will have one or two teams that will compete. Saddleback has had three nationals championship titles and four state championship titles and most recently, in 2014 the college won the national title.
“Surfing has long been viewed more as a recreational activity, however, I think people are realizing that being a top-level competitor surfer requires an immense amount of strategy and focus, coordination, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, balance, agility, and all the components required of any top level athlete,” Lindsey Steinriede said.
Surfing has been apart of the Polynesian Culture for centuries, never meaning to be a recreational sport. It later developed into an art, then a hobby. In the late 1800s it made its way up to North America, then to other countries as the years went on. It is one of the worlds oldest practiced sport on the planet.
This sport was not created for leisure, instead it was a sport that was meant to keep Hawaiian chiefs in top physical condition and served as a system of conflict resolution. They would test their skills in fierce competitions with winnings of wealth, pride and romance.
Most students on the team do not plan on becoming a professional surfer and have other career paths. However, there are a select few who have performed on a professional platform or dream of being on one in hopes of possibly making it big in the industry.
Competing students range from 18 to 23 years old. There are four league events that run from October to February and three divisions in the National Scholastic Surfing Association intercollegiate—men’s short board, women’s short board and long board.
State championships happen in March and nationals in June. Never knowing what kind of waves that will be ridden during the time of competitions the surfers are always kept on their toes. Although, most competitors prefer the short board division, this year Mason Klink won state championship title for the long board division.
“Competition dates are pre-determined, so it’s all up to Mother Nature. That’s the crazy thing about our sport it’s unpredictable and influenced by factors we can’t always control,” Steinriede said.
With popularity growing and a little understanding of how much endurance is put into the sport, the need for professionals will continue to grow. There is a chance the sport will become part of the Olympics.