Releasing exclusively in-store and online this Saturday, September 27th.
Five years ago it was all a dream for Kamehameha Surf Team Head Coach Lea Arce. It took half a decade for the Native Hawaiian squad to win their first National Scholastic of Surfing Association (NSSA) High School Team Championship, which happened this past June in Dana Point, Calif. The Kamehameha Surf Team was the only school representing Hawai‘i at the NSSA Interscholastic Championships in June and narrowly beat San Clemente High School 110–107, ending the So Cal school’s 4-year reign. For the Kamehameha Surf Team Head Coach, who is a science teacher at Kamehameha Kapālama campus, this national title is a product of five years of sweat equity invested into the program.
“I’m very excited that the validation [of this NSSA High School Team National championship] is something I’ve been searching for a long time and I hope that this validates our team as a real surf team and that the national championship will open doors for other schools [in Hawaii],” said Coach Arce.
Although Gov. Neil Abercrombie named surfing as an official school sport in 2011, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) has yet to implement a formal structure of events and competition format. Currently, OIA and ILH schools organize their surf teams as club sports and compete against each other under Hawai‘i Surfing Association. According to the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) regulations, it takes at least three schools to form a league and three leagues need to request a high school state surfing championship in order for the HHSAA to implement it.
“I’m hoping that with this championship it will solidify the need for surfing as an interscholastic sport in Hawaii,” Arce continued, “surfing can be used as a way to motivate these young men and women in their culture, but also their passion for that ocean and land as another outlet in addition to the sports that are already offered at schools.”
Arce was instrumental in forming the Kamehameha Surf Team and getting the current club-sport approved by the school’s administration in 2009. Since its formation, the Kamehameha Surf Team is undefeated in Hawai‘i with five consecutive state championships. At the time, the squad was formed to allow professional surfer Zeke Lau (class of 2012), who was a student at Kamehameha at the time, to compete in the NSSA Varsity Boys Shortboard division.
“Just being able to experience the whole team aspect is good for a student that surfs because not everyone is gifted to play football, basketball, soccer, etc. so having a surf team gives the other kids a chance to do something they love and be apart of a team just like every other sport,” says Zeke Lau.
“I think making surfing an interscholastic sport in Hawai‘i would just legitimize the sport just like football, baseball and basketball!”
What started as a way to allow Zeke Lau to compete in an additional division at NSSA Nationals has evolved into a showcase of excellence and the value of competitive interscholastic surfing. For the past five years, Fitted has supported the Kamehameha Surf Team with team hats, longsleeve shirts and towels for the NSSA National Championships.
This year, to celebrate the Kamehameha Surf Team’s first national title we are collaborating with our homies at Pai‘ea Projects on a limited-edition, neoprene Kamehameha New Era snapback in navy and “The Great” t-shirt in white and heather charcoal. The t-shirt design features Kamehameha I and relates to the heritage of the Native Hawaiian school and the fact that Pai‘ea was a skilled waverider himself. I mua…
(Photos courtesy of Paul Kema. Mahalo Paul!)