Isabelle Paris always wanted to start a surf club at USC.
The fourth-year environmental studies student saw a surf club as the perfect opportunity to build a community of people who share her passion. Paris said she tried to start one before, but it fell through due to COVID-19 regulations, or lack of planning.
But Paris and third-year management student Sarah Esmail finally saw the club come to life when they launched it in the beginning of the semester.
Both Paris and Esmail said they hope to build a community of surfers and get more USC students into the water.
The club is dedicated to both surfing and skateboarding and plans weekly trips. Any year, major or level of surfing experience is welcome to join, Paris said.
Paris is also the vice president of the Mountaineering and White Water Club.
Starting a club, she said, can be difficult to navigate due to paperwork, the process of setting up finances and overall planning and advertising, but Paris said that thanks to her leadership position, she was able to manage it.
"I was like, 'Okay, l know what I need to do. I just kind of need to actually do it now,'" Paris said.
Paris will be graduating in December, motivating her even more to start Gamecock Surf Club, she said.
"I wanted to start something, because I'm leaving so soon," Paris said. "I really wanted kind of something to like, make my own."
Surf Club has gained around 22 members since its starts at the beginning of the semester. The club meets every Tuesday night to discuss their weekend trips, sometimes day trips to Folly or other South Carolina beaches or skating trips to Owen's Field Park.
But the club hasn't come without its difficulties.
One of the biggest challenges has been coordinating trips, Esmail said. The closest beach, Folly Beach, is two hours away.
"Figuring out who's driving, figuring out who has a roof rack and figuring out who has a surfboard and what the sizing surfboards are has been a hard task." Esmail said.
The group, however, has still managed to overcome the logistical challenges and have taken surfing trips to Folly Beach, Carolina Beach and Ocean Fest — a charity music festival in Surf City, North Carolina.
"It's fun to just be on the water, in the wilderness doing your little thing because that's like the whole fun part about surfing," Paris said. "You're just one with the water."
But the main goal for Paris and Esmail, they said, is to create a community.
“We've brought people together that have a shared love of the beach and surfing of all levels," Esmail said. "It’s a really inclusive environment."
Surf Club welcomes surfers across all levels, said Cade Stocker, a third-year computer science student.
He doesn't have any experience surfing, but said he's enjoyed his experience all the same and appreciates the effort that Paris and Esmail put into coordinating trips.
In order to make it more inclusive for beginners, Esmail, who works as a surf instructor in her hometown during the summer, teaches any beginner surfers, so they don't feel overwhelmed.
"It's a hard sport. It keeps you so in shape," Esmail said. "But it's something like you'll, you'll never experience."
The close proximity with each other on trips as brought the club closer together and has made it easier to make friends, all three members said.
Paris said she hopes the club will continue to grow after she graduates.
“I'm hoping that they really just continue to build a community," Paris said.
Students who are interested in joining the Gameocock Surf Club can find more information on its GarnetGate page.