Former Garnet Gull revives surfing culture

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The Point Beach surfing team is making a return this fall thanks to former surfer and student-athlete Christina [Jarosinski] Wetzel. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINA WETZEL]

POINT BEACH — The Garnet Gulls will officially be back in the water for the fall season with the first surf team since the early 2000s and at the helm will be former Point Beach surfer Christina [Jarosinski] Wetzel. 

The district teacher led the charge to return the sport of surfing to Beach along with wholehearted support from parents, administration and around 20 students interested in joining. The team is considered a club by the Beach school district and is strictly self-funded, with sponsors and different fundraisers. 

“It’s really circuitous and I feel really blessed,” Wetzel said. “It was so well received by the administration … and I’m excited, it feels even better than being a part of it the first time.” 

After a hiatus, Wetzel decided it was time to bring back surfing after two years working in the district. After researching other local teams, she approached Nathan Grosshandler, Point Beach High School principal, who was open to the idea and the interest of the students.

“It was a mix of me being passionate and the students being really excited and wanting to help lead the charge, which really made this go faster,” Wetzel said. “It wouldn’t have gotten off the ground if it wasn’t for the students.”

In addition to Wetzel’s push and the students’ passion, the past played a role in the easy process. With Wetzel admitting if it wasn’t for the past, the team would have still been developing.

“I just remember it being a great experience and didn’t realize what went into it and what people did behind the scenes to get everything going, to really get the team started,” she added. “If it wasn’t for those people starting the team back then, I don’t think it would have been so easy to get it back, they really paved the way.” 

With the season beginning in the fall, Wetzel has potential team members attending contests during the summer to gain a grip on what the school season will entail. She also addressed the tryout scenario, in which some knowledge of surfing and ocean swimming is mandatory.

However, Wetzel is adding a twist to the revived Beach program, having two components meld into one. The team will be split into competing volunteers and noncompeting volunteers. 

Wetzel will have her surfers but then will also have her team participating with Friends of Island Beach and POAC. Since the team is self-funded, Beach will be hosting different fundraisers throughout the summer and fall, including a second gear sale before the season begins, and is open to local sponsorship opportunities.

“If you want to be a part of this club, you have to volunteer and do community-based events,” Wetzel said. “We have to give back to the people who are helping us.” 

The Gulls also have a social media presence on Twitter @PointBeachSurf1 and Instagram @PointBeachSurfTeam. Students interested in joining can reach out on either platform or can email the team: pointbeachsurfteam@gmail.com.