Stab Magazine | Brett Simpson, Tour Notes Heart-Throb, CT Retiree, Named USA Head Coach
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Brett Simpson, Tour Notes Heart-Throb, CT Retiree, Named USA Head Coach

The Olympics is pushed back to 2021, but the USA’s surf team is looking forward. 

news // Jul 12, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Brett Simpson was never fantastic on the World Tour. His best ever comp was a semi-final finish in Portugal, and his highest ever CT achievement was 19th, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good surfer, and certainly doesn’t reflect poorly on his coaching ability. 

On the surfing front he’s won the U.S. Open twice – no easy feat – and on the coaching front, well, Glen ‘Micro’ Hall is arguably one of surfings most successful coaches and we needn’t divulge his CT career. Besides, this won’t be Simpo’s first stint as coach: he has been the US’s elite national junior team coach for a while. 

“I’m honored and proud,” Simpo told the LA Times. “I have great relationships with all four of our athletes. It’s super exciting.”

Simpo was given the position based on the votes of his peers. And no that doesn’t mean the US Surfing committee, it means the surfers who will actually be competing for the US come the Japan Olympics in 2021. John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore, and Caroline Marks voted and Simpo won the spot, beating out other potential coaches Rainos Hayes, Shane Beschen, Mike Parsons and Chris “Gally” Stone, who was the National coach until the end of last year.

Marks, Andino, Simpo, and some tall basketballer I don’t know. Photo: USA Surfing

“When we put it to the athletes they unanimously selected Brett,”  Greg Cruse, USA Surfing’s CEO, told the LA Times. “We have some of the top surfers in the world on our team. They all have their teams that they work with, year-in, year-out, so they really don’t need coaching in the traditional sense of the word. What they need is someone that they can relate to, that they respect, that they can bounce ideas off, that can calm them, or hype them up, and just get them in the best mindset.

“That’s what you need and that’s what Brett brings to the table.”

Whether the Olympics actually run in 2021 is subject to multiple factors – current infection numbers, whether there’s a vaccine, and athlete’s willingness to travel – but even before then coaching isn’t as standard as it would be in normal times. Brett has been surfing with coaching Kolohe and Caroline who both live in California, but coaching sessions with John and Carissa have been over Zoom, which we can’t imagine is too conducive to immediate performance feedback. 

According to both Cruse and Simpo himself, his role as coach is less based on technical expertise and more on his relationship with the surfers. Excluding Caroline, Simpo has spent time on the tour with these surfers, and sometimes surfing against them in John’s case, and this is seen to be more important than simply hiring the ‘best qualified coach’.

“I have great relationships with the athletes,” Simpson continued. “I’m on the younger side of the coaching spectrum but I think it’s become relevant in a lot of sports. There’s similar views you share and when you’re working with top level athletes like this, it isn’t telling them how to surf. It’s more guidance on conditions, focusing on equipment and the day-to-day preparation, putting them in the best situation to perform at their highest level.”

Anyway, we’ll keep you posted on the Olympics surfing front closer to the date. It’s too early for me to speculate exactly how things will pan out in the world at the moment, so I best leave that to those who know best: high school drop outs with a YouTube account. 

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