Huntington Beach’s Brett Simpson was named last week by USA Surfing as its elite national junior team coach, replacing Joey Buran, who retired after serving as coach of both the national and national junior teams since USA Surfing was formed in 2017.
“For me, it’s taken a couple years to find my path, figure out what I want to do,” said Simpson, who competed on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour from 2010-15 and won the U.S. Open of Surfing in 2009 and ’10. “As I slowly got less competitive in surfing as many contests, I really realized how much I enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve learned over the years, at any given level.”
While Simpson will oversee the juniors, Chris Gallagher Stone has been named the national team coach and will head the coaching staff of Team USA’s 2020 Olympic team.
“The young athletes respond so well to Brett’s coaching,” USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse said in a press release. “He listens intently and closely observes their performance, identifying what they need to do to progress and communicating it in ways that stick and motivate.”
The USA juniors program consists of three squads — the Developmental team, the Junior team and the ISA World Juniors training team. All surfers on the teams are under 18.
“Joey did a great job, but I’m different, I’m younger,” said Simpson, 34. “I’m young at heart, I still surf a lot and I see a lot of the kids and the talent and ability, and I think there’s that cohesion there where maybe Joey didn’t really have. He was great at keeping the team tight, but I feel I can bring something a little different.”
The USA’s World Junior training team placed second behind Japan at the Vissla ISA World Junior Championships in Huntington Beach last November, but Simpson said it’s important to balance immediate results with an eye toward improvement for the future.
“I want to push them, I want to see results, but I want to see the kids get better,” he said. “For me, that means a lot. They might not win right then and there, but this is for years down the line, gaining that knowledge with priority, how to utilize it, how to limit mistakes, but still react and surf free. It’s a hard thing to balance. Being young, you don’t think as much, which can be good. But there are situations where you do have to think it through, and hopefully that’s done beforehand.
“Everyone’s good, so that’s a little bit of the strategy side to it, but I am also focused on the technical side and I want to see the kids improve. It might not be an instant result right then and there, but I think over the next few years, we’ll see it.”
JOE HAAKENSON is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeHaakenson