COAST CITIES — Last year, the MiraCosta College surf team took first place at the NSSA’s (National Scholastic Surfing Association) college surf championship.
MiraCosta will defend its title June 16.
Rich Langen, MiraCosta’s coach, likes his team’s chances this year.
“We have a lot of surfers who could end up in the finals,” Langen said. “I think we can win this thing again.”
Langen, now retired, coached surfing as a middle school teacher. Once he began teaching at Oceanside High, he coached the Pirates’ surf team.
In 2000, his daughter Kyla, a professional surfer, began attending MiraCosta. With so many talented local surfers, he wondered why the school didn’t have a surf team.
“I went to the college and volunteered to start a team,” Langen said.
“It was great coaching and watching my daughter do really well in competition,” he added.
It didn’t take long for MiraCosta’s surf team to make a name for itself. The Spartans won the NSSA college national championship their first year competing. Even with surf teams from nearby four-year universities like San Diego State and UC San Diego, MiraCosta has consistently been a standout, wining state and national championships.
Langen said his team plays an important role for many local surfers.
“I think the team gave a lot of surfers the opportunity to compete who wouldn’t have otherwise,” Langen said. “If you don’t go to a university like San Diego State right away, it’s definitely harder to make it on your own if you want to surf contests.”
And then there’s the camaraderie. Langen, who holds practices several times a month, said the Spartans have had no shortage of great surfers over the years. But this year is especially exciting because it has a “great team feel.”
“A lot of the guys hangout outside of the team and take classes together,” he said. “They help each other out, give each other tips — show others the best spots in the lineup to paddle out — things like that.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Devin Tanner, who’s been surfing with MiraCosta for the last two years and will attend Cal State San Marcos in the fall.
“Learning from them, surfing with all these guys, it’s helped out my confidence a lot,” Tanner said. “We all get fired up about each others’ results.”
Lennen Kardas, who surfed in nationals last year, agrees.
“I’ve become really good friends with some other people on the team,” Kardas said. “We surf together all the time and take trips to Orange County and other spots that are close by. It’s good for everyone’s surfing.”
MiraCosta’s red team (it also has a white team) is currently ranked third in the NSSA’s southwest college conference rankings, behind SDSU and UC Santa Barbara. Contests this year have been held at spots like Black’s Beach and Huntington Pier.
MiraCosta will compete in the men’s, women’s, longboard and shortboard parts of the contest.
Last year, Carlsbad’s Brent Reilly led the charge for the Spartans. Winning nearly all of his heats, he was named the men’s college shortboard national champion.
The NSSA contest begins June 16 at 6:30 a.m. at Salt Creek in Dana Point.