“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
— Frederick Douglass
Exceptional surfers are often called “heroes” by those of us with far less talent. And, while I’m not against the elevation of sports figures, so long as they are good role models for our children, I see nothing heroic in riding a wave, no matter how well or how big.
Surfing is a selfish endeavor, and I have ridden thousands of waves, only a small fraction for the benefit of anyone but myself.
I rode those, the most significant waves of my life with a tight group of friends tagged the “Manhood Project.”
Trust me, there was nothing heroic or even noteworthy in the way I slid straight off on the tiny inside froth at Cardiff Reef on Saturday, Nov. 13, of this year.
Nonetheless, those waves mattered, not so much to me, but to the fatherless boys who will benefit from my riding them.
The same can be said of my teammates, including Cameron Trickey, Ed Wright, Scott Dickson, Dan Dorsey, Francesco DeMeo, and our ringer, pro ripper Damian Hobgood.
Founded in 1996 by a former director of Father Flanagan’s Boys Town, Herb Sigurdson, his son Joe, and Craig McClain, Boys to Men has made a major difference to over 12,000 participating fatherless boys.
Since Herb’s passing in 1997, the leadership of Boys to Men has fallen primarily to Joe and Craig.
The 100 Wave Challenge (think aquatic walk-a-thon) is designed for each participant to raise money through sponsorship. The idea is for surfers to ride 100 waves, and I committed to doing just that (give an old guy an extra week or so?) even though I fell far short of the goal on the 13th.
The challenge, which was disrupted by COVID (isn’t everything?) had formerly been held on the same day each year, with hundreds of surfers riding waves together in Mission Beach.
Since last year, however, each team spreads out and rides waves in their own areas, on a mutually decided upon date. The result is the raising of roughly a half-million dollars.
Boys to Men is dedicated in part to serving fatherless teenaged boys and encourage habits like self- accountability. The problem of fatherless boys may not seem immediately apparent, but quickly comes into focus when viewed through the cold lens of statistics, which prove that children with absentee fathers are five times as likely to commit suicide than the national average, and that 85% of all youth in prison have no father in the home.
If fathers would do their job, McClain and Sigurdson could happily retire. Sadly, however, deadbeat dads are on the increase. After the mess made by their irresponsible actions (or lack of actions) it is left to Craig, Joe and their team to bat cleanup.
Joe Sigurdson was there for a day in the sun at Cardiff as the Manhood Project racked up an impressive wave count. This is not at all surprising — he’s there whenever the welfare of kids is at stake.
I am not certain how many statues exist of Boys Town founder Father Flanagan, but there should be statues to both McClain and Sigurdson. This, in spite of what would certainly be their disdain at such a suggestion.
The other problem in casting those two in bronze is that there’s no way to incorporate the size of such giving hearts.
To learn more about Boys to Men Mentoring Network, visit: https://boystomen.org/about-us/