By Tommy Fellner, Online Sports Editor
For a select group of students at Acalanes, 3:05 doesn’t signal the end of the day; it signals the beginning of an adventure. Nathan Brickman is one of those students. Brickman spends his weekends and breaks frequenting the surf of California.
Brickman became interested in this unique sport a couple years ago on a family trip to Mexico. Ever since that trip, he has a had a burning passion to surf.
“I went on a trip to Mexico with my family and a couple other families and we all took surfing lessons,” said Brickman. “And we surfed and it was super fun and when I realized a couple kids surfed around Lafayette, I wanted to try it too. So a couple of my friends and I went and checked it out and I’ve been going often since.”
Brickman loves the water and tries to go out with anyone that is heading to the shores just so he can get in the water and continue to surf. He tries to learn from everyone with whom he paddles out to keep improving and learning more about the ocean.
“I surf with anyone who I can find a ride with or that will let me tag along,” said Brickman. “Vinny gladden, Will Audley, Gavin Thatcher and a couple of dads from the area are some people that I normally surf with. They are really knowledgeable about surfing and they teach me a lot about it.”
Brickman surfs for a lot of reasons: he loves the water, the culture, and hanging out with friends, and it’s a great excuse to get outdoors. To Brickman, it’s also great to be able to share the thrill and enjoyment of dropping in and harnessing the waves’ energy and forming a synergetic relationship between oneself and nature.
“Surfing to me means that I can enjoy something without harming the environment, that I can just be in the elements, and I can spend time with my friends” said Brickman. “I love to go surfing with friends because it’s not only fun when you catch waves, but it is just as awesome when your friends do too because you get to share the stoke.”
Surfing is also one of the few sports where there is no intensity or pressure. There’s no practice times and no one is forced to go out and surf. It is a choice to go out and paddle around, and that is what makes it so fun and satisfying.
“It’s always fun to go surfing to get away and escape stresses, mostly school,” said Brickman. “But what really sets surfing apart is that oftentime you’re competing with and against yourself, because you get to push your own limits, and you get to see and feel your own improvement.”
Brickman also draws inspiration and gains knowledge from the people he knows in the surfing community. One local friend, Dave Neugebauer is a great role model for Brickman because he is able to balance his passion for surfing along with his family and job. Another one of Brickman’s mentors in the surfing community is Patagonia ambassador Keith Malloy. Malloy is a part of a group of bodysurfers known as the “Torpedo People,” and he travels the world surfing, body surfing and documenting nature.
“Keith Malloy is really inspirational to me because the life he lives is really just all around awesome,” said Brickman. “He grew up on a ranch, is an environmentalist, knows how to play the guitar, and he has really good morals. He inspires me to be him because he is the sickest guy ever and he contradicts the stereotype that all surfers are bums. He’s done a lot of great surf films that are about the environment and about a lot of different things.”
The thrill and elation of being one with nature fuels Brickman’s desire to surf and inspires him to paddle out again after each wave he catches or each time he wraps up a surfing session.
“It’s always fun to be out in the elements and appreciating this wave of energy that the earth is making and harnessing it and making a sport out of it is truly a really a neat idea,” said Brickman. “Every time you catch a wave there is this thrill to it that makes you want to do it again. The only way to recreate that feeling is to paddle back out and catch another one.”