The University of South Carolina might not be a school located on the coast, but the Carolina Surf Club is bringing surf culture and community to campus for students to join.
The Carolina Surf Club is a student-run organization and was recently re-established, as the club made its return to campus this past fall semester. First-year environmental science student Nick Virga, president of the Carolina Surf Club, took matters into his own hands in re-establishing it.
Virga, an avid surfer, said he wanted to bring love for the water to campus.
“I’d love to be able to have an easy way to get to the beach and get to the beach with a bunch of other people and be able to surf with easy access,” Virga said.
The club welcomes all students, from advanced surfers to students who've never caught a wave before to those looking for a group of friends to go to the beach with — the club embraces them as well. As of right now, the club consists of around 30 to 40 members of different skillsets.
First-year public relations student Ben Crispin had never surfed before but is a member of the club. He said surfing can be intimidating at first, but surf club officers and members are very supportive of beginners and are part of an extremely welcoming group.
Fourth-year psychology and theater student and social media chair Nakoa Zurlo is a more experienced surfer. When he found out about the surf club, he said he joined immediately.
“Surfing is a solo thing, but it’s nice to have people that understand the passion you feel for it,” Zurlo said.
With its recent re-establishment and COVID-19 restrictions, the club has faced some challenges. Due to new guidelines for club sports, the club cannot travel outside of a 25-mile radius from campus. Therefore, the organization has not been able to make any trips to the beach and actually hit the water.
Virga said he and the other officers are currently expanding the club beyond surfing due to the travel restrictions.
“It’s kind of just like, we're going with the flow, trying to brainstorm new ideas and new things to do until we're allowed to travel outside of 25 miles,” Virga said.
Some of these new ideas include going to the local skate park, having club movie nights and doing community service projects. Going to the local skate park has been a common outing for some members of the club, as they can practice their skills on land rather than water.
“It’s been really fun,” Crispin said. “It’s been a very inviting atmosphere, just to hang out and go down and do something a little bit athletic, a little bit involving a board, whether that’s water or land.”
In hopes the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted soon, the club plans to do regular trips to the beach to get the members out on the water in the future, according to Virga. The main destination for the surf trips will be Charleston, though Virga said the club wants to expand its travels to more places, such as the Outer Banks, North Carolina.
First-year international business student and treasurer Matt Heiser has big goals for the club. He said he would love to see the members go to even more iconic surf destinations.
“Hopefully, by my senior year, we’ll be hopping on flights to Costa Rica,” Heiser said.