Kolohe Andino Interview

It seems appropriate that "Hope" is one of the rallying cries for the new administration. Because in the surf world, with yet another ISA World Junior Championships around the corner, we have a squad filled with Hope. Hope that they've finally gelled enough to work as a unit. Hope that their "supercrew" consisting of Kolohe Andino, Evan Geiselman and Conner Coffin has finally matured enough to make an impact on the big stage. And hope that after 13 years, the US will take home the gold in an international team event. After a demanding series of trials last week at Huntington, whittling down the squad from 30 to 12 and a pep talk from USC football coach Pete Carroll, the crew is ready to put hope into play. We caught up with Under 16 trials winner Kolohe "Brother" Andino – fresh out of a surf with the team during the stormiest day of the winter – to see how high this round of hope will float.

SURFING Magazine: What's going on, Brother? Heard you just toughed it out in some San Clemente Pier storm surf.

Kolohe Andino: Yeah, it was super fun, actually. Hard to get out. Howling south wind, but good little rights next to the pier. All the guys were out – Evan Geiselman, Luke Davis, Ian Crane, Riley Metcalf…oh, and my dad, too.

You aren't sick of those guys yet after the trials process last week?

Nah, but it was pretty grueling, for sure. I think I surfed a total of 20 heats during those trials at Huntington. Just non-stop. A lot of storm surf, too, so it was really tiring.

But you came out on top.

Yeah, it felt good to achieve that because everyone was pushing it hard all week. You could tell how bad all the kids wanted it. In the end, Conner [Coffin] was in the finals for the Under 16, so Evan [Geiselman] and I had a man-on-man heat to see who would also be in the final. I made that heat, then beat Conner in the final. But really, I think all four of us in the Under 16 – Evan, Conner, Ian Crane and myself – can do well in the worlds. We all work well together and motivate each other.

You must have had a good board to get through all those heats. You going to ice it until the worlds?

I rode a Mayhem 5'7 " – a really good board. But I'm afraid that I'll probably outgrow it by the time the contest starts. [laughs]

You've now had Joey [Buran] for a coach for the last year and a half. What's your assessment?

He's been great. He's really good about keeping us motivated as a unit. We feel a real camaraderie as a team and a lot of that – most of that – is because of Joey. He'll make us do breakfasts together, group talks, that kind of stuff. The kind of stuff you probably do all the time in other sports but rarely do it in surfing because it's so individual.

Do you feel you've improved under his leadership?

Yeah, definitely. Practice makes perfect and we run a lot of heats, so…

Now that the squad is set, have you thought about matchups? Who are some of the other Under 16 surfers with big reps?

Well, in Australia there's {{{Cooper}}} Chapman and Matt Banning. They're both solid. Brazil has Jesse Mendes and Ian Gouveia. Those are definitely good programs and they're churning out good surfers, but I feel like we're finally hitting our stride as well.

What about the wave you'll be surfing in Ecuador? Know anything about it?

I just know it's like the lefts at Salt Creek. Kind of a lefthand point.

How was [USC Football coach] Pete Carroll's talk with the team?

It was cool. I had no idea who he was before he was introduced, but you can tell he knows how to motivate athletes and get them to be their best. He said a few good things, but one I remember most is: you can only worry about yourself; not what anyone else in your heat is doing.

You've had a lot of US Team time the past few years. Has it made you a patriot?

For sure. I'm excited to surf well for our country and for USA to take the gold. It's a part of competitive surfing that not many guys get to experience, and we want to make the most of it. Like, if I won the contest and the US got third, we didn't achieve our goal.

So, you care more about the team doing well than you doing well.

The perfect scenario would be to do well in the event and the team taking home the gold. Let's just leave it at that.

Team USA

The 2009 PacSun USA Surf Team competition squad:

Nat Young
Evan Thompson
Fisher Heverly
Chase Wilson
Alternate: Balaram Stack

Kolohe Andino
Conner Coffin
Evan Geiselman
Ian Crane
Alternates: Jacob Halstead and Colin Moran

Courtney Conlogue
Lakey Peterson
Kaleigh Gilchrist
Lani Doherty
Alternate: Taylor Pitz