Sea Kings' surf team's back

All Mikey Pawell wanted to do was to be a part of a surf team at his high school. Who knew he had to lead a boy scout troop to make it happen.

For the past 15 years Corona del Mar High has been without a surf team. Pawell, a senior, wanted the drought to end. There's no way a school so close to the beach should be without a team of kids who love to surf, he thought.

Venturing a boy scout troop, attaining sponsors, recruiting surfers and coaches were some of the efforts he would need to take on to recreate a Sea Kings' surf team. Most high school surf teams venture a boy scout troop to acquire insurance for their squad.

On Wednesday, Pawell finally saw the payment of his hard work. Surfers tend to admire the beauty of waves. Pawell said he was stoked to see CdM finally compete.

"It's like I lost my voice today," Pawell said in a raspy tone over the phone. "I was yelling a lot today. I was pretty excited. It was fun."

CdM's renewed surf team beat Mater Dei in its debut Wednesday at Brookhurst in Huntington Beach.

Three years ago, Pawell never thought a surf team at CdM could happen. As a sophomore he found out he could compete at Estancia High instead, and so off he went to surf with the Eagles. But when he was a junior, surfers from CdM started to outnumber the Estancia kids on the team, Pawell said. He realized surfing at Estancia would not happen in his senior year, so he knew he had to start a team at CdM.

With his friend Peter Anastos, he went to work. They went to the CdM administration with a plan. Pawell didn't want to see that plan die. More than six years ago, his older brother, Ryan, hit dead ends with his friends when they tried to bring a surf team back to CdM.

Mikey Pawell remained determined. When he saw his friend's dad while surfing at Blackies, he told him of his idea. Jake Hoose, whose daughter, Bobbi, is now on the team, wanted to help Pawell. Hoose, who graduated from CdM in 1986, was on the surf team while in high school. He wanted to help bring the team back.

Hoose, who works for Volcom, is immersed in the surf industry and helped the Sea Kings land Cordell Miller as the head coach. Hoose works as the assistant coach. Miller, a former pro surfer, is a local shaper who helped give the CdM surf team instant credibility. The Sea Kings don't seem ready to compete on the level as powerhouse Newport Harbor, but they believe they one day soon will.

"We're just going to keep taking small steps," Hoose said. "We want to continue to build our team. Hopefully we can recruit more kids in the CdM and Newport Beach area and build our team. We'd be excited to have more kids on the team."

Pawell says there are 25 surfers on the team. They grew anxious to compete recently. They had their past three competitions canceled because of rain. But the sun came out on Wednesday.

Pawell was one who helped the Sea Kings start off right. He won the boys' longboard division against Mater Dei. Shane MacGilfrey and Raymon Kennedy also came out on top in boys' shortboard, Saliha Cetik was the top girl and Finn Kallal was first in the boys' bodyboard.

It helped to win, but Pawell already felt like a champ Wednesday. He saw his dream come true.

"It's been a long, long process," Pawell said.

He never realized all the work that goes into starting a club team at a high school. He never received any school credit he said, he just wanted a team that he could surf for.

Anastos, and others, were there to help as well. They had to raise $10,000 to make it happen. Getting local companies, Hobie Surf Shop and El Ranchito, as sponsors helped.

Pawell also helped design T-shirts and special team wetsuits for the CdM surfers.

In November, they're hoping to schedule a competition against Newport Harbor.

"It is pretty surreal because I never thought a year ago we would have a team," Anastos said. "Four months into it me and Mikey realized it might happen. It took a lot of persistence. [Wednesday] felt like the end of the longest school project I've ever done in my life. I'm so stoked for the team and all the kids did really well."

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