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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Updated: June 15, 1:35 PM ET
Gold On The Horizon


Check out ESPN Surfing's exclusive gallery of the PacSun USA Surf Team.

The surf star of Team USA, Kolohe Andino.   Launch gallery »

Rabbit Bartholomew is stepping down as ASP president and a replacement has yet to be named. Change is in the wind in Coolangatta (where the ASP is headquartered). The Quiksilver ISA World Junior Championship is two weeks away from storming Ecuador's shore. And add to that, O'Neill is in Tasmania about to kick off the first leg of its six-stop Cold Water Classic series (which is tied directly into big points on the World Qualifying Series). Then you have all of the Grom Searches, Grom Fests, King of the Groms, NSSAs, ESAs and Lord only knows what else.

What do you suppose would happen if everybody came together for the common good of the sport, funneling all this energy in one direction? What would the dream scenario be?

Conner Coffin, America's nuclear threat.

For some, like ISA president Fernando Aguerre, surfing in the Olympics is the crème de la crème. "Presently diverse stakeholders around the world are friendly to the possibility of surfing's inclusion in the Summer Games," he recently explained in a piece online (read Fernando's entire take here). "This is in part because surfing has a well functioning and structured IOC-Recognized International Federation (the ISA) and National Federations, but most importantly it has to do with the realization that without 'pruning the Olympic Games tree' by adding relevant new sports, and excluding no longer relevant sports, the tree itself will become less relevant and vital."

Surfing in the Olympics is great, and I'm all for it ... I guess. In a couple weeks America's young surfers ship off to Ecuador to represent the Stars and Stripes and should enjoy our undivided support. But what about the professional side of things? Major League Baseball has Little League, there's the Little League World Series and every aspiring Derek Jeter or Hideo Nomo is funneled through that same system — whether growing up in Jersey or Japan. That's not the case in surfing, where there are more than a dozen different avenues leading to the same eventual goal. I'm not enough of a pro surfing wonk to know what the solution is, other than adhering to the mantra that's been around since the inception of the Dream Tour: "Put the world's best surfers in the world's best waves" — which sounds pretty spot-on.

Representing the East Coast, Evan Geiselman, who teams with Kolohe and Conner to make up the big three for America's very dangerous under-16 squad.

I only bring all of this up because, as I mentioned, the USA Surf Team is bound for Ecuador, and for the first time in a long time, it is going as a serious contender. Over the past few years I've watched the USA Surf Team and Surfing America evolve, and it's impressive to see the hard work of Surfing America's president, Mike Gerard, and head coach, Joey Buran, paying off. Last year America's team won the copper medal (yes, copper, a giant penny), but this time, anchored by an absolutely stacked under-16 squad — comprised of Kolohe Andino, Evan Geiselman, Conner Coffin and Ian Crane — there's very little preventing the USA Surf Team from usurping the ever-dominant Aussie contingent.

At tryouts in Huntington earlier in the year, USC football head coach Pete Carroll made a surprise visit. "You can feel Joey [Buran]'s passion for this sport and for all of you — in the way he talks and the way he acts," Carroll explained on the beach. "It's been awesome hearing his whole strategy — being aggressive and attacking, turning a 7 into an 8. That's what the great ones do, and all you guys are definitely aspiring to be great."

I guess for now, until the adults sort things out and take our sport in whatever direction they see fit, all the up-and-coming dreamers will just have to keep "aspiring to be great." After all, it's worked so far.

Check out ESPN Surfing's exclusive gallery of the PacSun USA Surf Team.