When Dale Rhodes was in college, he successfully conquered a number of waves in competitions against Pepperdine University’s surf team.
Now, three decades later, the 1985 National Scholastic Surfing Association men’s national champion is the new Pepperdine Waves surf team coach. Rhodes, also the Malibu High surf team’s coach, said he is excited about his new gig.
“It’s an honor to represent one of the best colleges in the country,” said Rhodes, a former surfer for Pierce College and on the pro-am level.
Pepperdine hired Rhodes as the Waves surfing coach two weeks ago, four months ahead of the group’s first meet in the fall.
Rhodes said in anticipation of Pepperdine’s first competition in October at Blacks Beach in San Diego, he will begin assembling the Waves men’s and women’s surf squads. The new coach said he is looking to have around 10 to 12 surfers on each team.
“I’m already doing outreach with some of the kids that will be returning to Pepperdine,” Rhodes said. “Then, at the New Student Orientation Day on Aug. 22 all the sports teams have their tents up to do recruitment, so I will be there.”
The Waves surfing squad is a bit different from other Pepperdine sports teams, such as basketball, baseball and women’s soccer. The group is a club — meaning it is not run out of the university’s athletic department and not governed under the NCAA, the body that regulates athletes at colleges across the country.
The group is one of several college surf clubs in Southern California that compete in meets against each other along the coastline under the banner of the NSSA, billed as the highest profile amateur competitive surfing association in the U.S. The Waves rivals include teams from UCLA, USC and UCSB.
The Waves will have eight or nine events up until the NSSA championships next June.
Rhodes, also the vice president of KATIN USA and A Walk on Water board member, doesn’t expect his time coaching the Waves to affect his time coaching Malibu High’s surf team — also a club — which competes in the Scholastic Surf Series. Rhodes said Cerin Wanderlust, who aids the MHS surfing club in logistics, will help the Waves surf group.
The surfing coach noted some differences between leading high schoolers and college students into surfing events, but he said his coaching style would remain the same with both groups
“I’m a firm believer in building strong character,” Rhodes said, “building self-confidence, teaching teamwork, working together and playing all the athletes.”
He said as head Wave he wants to make Pepperdine’s surf club fun for the athletes involved. Rhodes said he has zero expectations for the first season.
“I’m looking to build something fantastic for the school and the community,” he said. “I’m a firm believer of building firm character in athletes and that helps lead to a bright future.”