Part 1: Beginnings

Reflecting on my past, I realised I stumbled into coaching almost by chance. I understand now that it was my desires, life events, and the environments I found myself in all played a role in steering me towards this path.

I’m going back to my early years in this journey, when I began surfing at the age of twelve in Christchurch, NZ. As I approached the end of high school in the late 80s, our economy was in recession and we didn’t have a lot of money, so it was too challenging for me to pursue the University pathway. Struggling to secure good employment, I sought a route that would allow me to earn a tertiary qualification while being gainfully employed. This quest led me to explore opportunities within the Air Force, prompting me to undertake their entrance exams.

Performing well in the exams, I was encouraged by the recruiter to pursue aircrew selection. However, I “choked” during the impromptu public speaking assessment, hindered by insecurities a lot of 17-year-old have and paralysed with performance anxiety. Although I was urged to reapply for the next intake, financial pressures led me to seek alternative paths.

Me (2nd from left) and some of the local surf coaching crew!

During the selection process, I connected with a fellow candidate already serving in the military, who suggested considering choosing an engineering trade if I couldn’t afford to wait. Following his advice, I enrolled as an aircraft engineering cadet, embarking on a career that allowed me to travel extensively, indulging in my passion for surfing and honing my knack for fixing things.

As I entered my thirties and embraced fatherhood, a newfound sense of responsibility and desire to do different and make a difference began to take root. The experience of nurturing my young daughter had quickly shifted my focus from self to others, prompting me to contemplate what changes I could make in my life to do different.

The idea of becoming a surf coach emerged.

Eager to share my love for the ocean and my wealth of experiences with others, I underwent training as a surf coach, balancing this newfound passion with my existing career in engineering. This eventually led to a part-time coaching role for a chain of surf shops across the south of England.

Becoming a coach marked a pivotal moment in my vocational journey, where my skills and passions took precedence over mere financial considerations. The success of a “girls only” surf event that I organised for the shop chain propelled me into a full-time coaching and sports equipment trainer role. However, as fate would have it, the company underwent a takeover, resulting in redundancy. As a part of my severance package, I negotiated then retainment of the lease agreement with the local council for the surf school, along with all the equipment and my company car. I still have two original beginner boards from 2002 that are still in use to this day.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll delve into what happened next!