TRESTLES — Malibu High School’s surf team has secret weapons.
As Malibu prepares to participate in the Red Bull Riders Cup National Championship at Trestles in San Clemente against high schools from across the country, Head Coach Rich Lawson has a feeling that opposing squads may not take his team seriously.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“(Other teams) might take us lightly and that’s fine,” Lawson said. “We’re the only squad with a girl and no seniors. They might look at that and say we don’t have the experience.”
Ironically, the team’s lone female member is considered one of its most talented. Junior Chandler Parr, the only female in the competition, has been surfing in national contests since the ripe age of 10 and has earned the praise of her coaches for her ability to rise to the occasion and challenge even the most aggressive male surfers in the water.
“I think it’s fun being the only girl,” Parr said during practice. “It pushes me to surf my best and improve my abilities.”
Assistant Coach Pascal Stansfield, himself a pro surfer, said that if his team is to win the national title Parr will have to come up big, as has been the case all season.
“She’s kind of our secret weapon,” Stansfield said. “Nobody expects much from her.
“It’s pretty nice to have that.”
He said that it’s obvious in the faces of male competitors that they feel that having Parr on the squad is a disadvantage for Malibu.
“She is very unassuming and very humble until she hits the surf,” Stansfield said. “When she goes out there her real personality shows through her surfing.”
Parr’s sun-filled days of surfing stretch back nine years with her first national contest coming a heady 10 years ago. Her penchant for riding waves doesn’t come from surf-riding family members. Parr said that she just woke up one morning and wanted to surf. She said she had seen surfers in the waves off of Malibu and wanted to see what it was like.
“That was it, that’s how it went down in history,” Parr said.
Her time atop a surfboard has yielded a WTC national title and she has also appeared in international competitions.
“It was really cool being the only girl from the U.S. [team],” Parr said. “It was interesting to see the different talents out there. I got a chance to see where I stand up internationally.
“It was an awesome experience.”
It is an experience that may help lead the six-member team that includes Duke Van Patten, Colton Sarlo, Conrad Carr, Skylar Lawson and Chance Lawson to a title over seven other schools. The field includes Malibu, Aptos High, Satellite High, Mira Costa High, New Smyrna High, Ocean City High, Newport Harbor High and San Dieguito Academy.
The eight teams in the contest come from Florida, New Jersey and California.
Lawson said the contest gives competitors a chance to see how surfers from diverse areas approach the sport. He added that it also gives surfers an opportunity to shake any negative connotation associated with the sport.
“A lot of people look at surfers as slackers who are involved in negative behavior,” Lawson said. “These kids who surf competitively don’t get to go to Friday night parties when they have a 7 a.m. heat.
“There are a lot of sacrifices, but they are the right ones to be made by these kids.”