Kahuku Surf Club keeps reigning at sport of kings
Kahuku High School
These days, it seems everyone has jumped on the surfing bandwagon. But before board shorts and Roxy girls were "in," Kahuku's Surf Team was ripping up the waves.
While many see the Home of the Red Raiders as the Home of the Polynesian Football Players, Kahuku actually houses an accomplished group of intermediate and high school surfers.
"People outside of the surfing community don't really think of surfing when they think of Kahuku, but we've got some really good surfers on campus," said Taylor Bushman, surfing's representative in the Miss Letterman Court and recent champion of the National Scholastic Surfing Association's second event at Turtle Bay.
Iris Kahaulelio, a biology teacher at Kahuku and a skilled water athlete, created the club in 1995 with hopes of putting the raw talent of students into a focused competition atmosphere.
"Linda and Richard Robb (former NSSA Hawaii directors) came to me with the idea," Kahaulelio said, "and it just grew from there."
Since its start, Kahuku's surf team has championed the high school competition circuit. The 2003-04 season has been dominated by Kahuku: The club has won every competition so far.
"It really helps to live on the North Shore where the best surf spots on the island are all lined up next to each other," Kahaulelio said.
That advantage would explain the plethora of talented watermen from Kahuku. Surfers Kalani Robb, Makua Rothman and T.J. Barron attended Kahuku, along with Garret McNamara and his brother Liam. The Pipeline Hansen's Energy Pro contest's final heat was no stranger to Kahuku: 2001 graduate Mikey Bruneau placed second, edging out fellow alumni Pancho Sullivan and Fred Pattachia.
While the easy beach access seems to help, Reis Harney, a Kahuku senior and six-year Surf Club member, attributes their success to something besides geographical location.
"We have some really good surfers, but so do other schools," Harney said. "I think it's the Kahuku competitive spirit and school pride that carries into the competitions and makes us a better team."
With all this success, one might think the Kahuku team would take a break and relax during the off-season.
The surf team recently ventured into the world of public policy making. Kahaulelio rallied the club to lobby the state Legislature to vote yes on naming surfing as an official Oahu Interscholastic Association sport.
In September the team trekked to the state Capitol, signs in hand, to sit in on the state hearings. Lunches were sometimes spent in Kahaulelio's classroom writing letters to legislators.
"I think the team exceeded the expectations of any person in how involved we are in the process," Harney said. "No one would think a bunch of surfer kids would go and try to change something."
A decision on surfing as an OIA sport has yet to be reached.
The surf team at Kahuku is a well-rounded bunch of teens. Members are part of the paddling, swimming and water polo teams, as well as the National Honor Society and the Environmental Club.
The North Shore's surf culture is no new thing to the kids at Kahuku -- it's been around for a while. The Surf Club is working to continue their success and involvement in the surfing community.
"We want to keep winning," explains Bushman, "and keep surfing going at Kahuku."