South Coast Team Manager Profile: Donn Clark
By Robb Bailey
Grew up in: South Mission Beach
High School: Mission Bay High
Competitive Surfing Experience: Western Surfing Association (70′s), The Coalition of Surfing Clubs (current)
South Coast Team Manager: 3 years
The South Coast team riders are a group of local up and coming surfers who are sponsored by South Coast surf shops. Ranging in ages from eight to 25 years, the young wave sliders are being groomed not only to become great surfers, but a positive part of the surfing community as well. Their team manager, Don Clark, affectionately nicknamed “DC”, is a local soul rider who grew up surfing and living in South Mission Beach.
DC is a generally cheerful guy, with a soul patch and silver-streaked blonde hair. Although a self-admitted “old man”, his presence indicates that his attitude and outlook on life remains youthful. Now in his fifties, DC smiles a lot and seems to enjoy his work. Surprisingly, his competitive surfing experience from the seventies to present day has little to do with the way he manages the South Coast team.
“South Coast believes its surf team should be a little more home grown.”And home grown it is.DC’s team guidelines are centered more around life coaching than surf coaching, and he demands respect from all of the team riders in a unique way. He rips like he’s still in his twenties, remains a very humble person, and sets a great example. “I was never good enough to go to the pros,” DC is quick to explain as he summarizes his surfing career. But he also admits that his leadership role is validated by his surfing ability when the kids
see him in the water. “Once the kids saw me surfing, there was a sort of mutual respect.”
Team manager responsibilities such as acting as the liaison between the sponsors and riders, as well as coaching the riders through heats are all part of the job. DC’s other duties as manager include keeping the team in check, making sure their school grades are in line, and helping them keep an overall great attitude.
” [Sponsorship] companies want good kids to represent them. Some kids think surfing ability alone will
give them anything they want. I tell them, ‘Don’t get cocky. Be modest.’ You gotta work for it and be a good person to sponsors, and thank them every once in awhile.”
In an industry where kids who rip are becoming a dime a dozen, DC seems to have the right approach. He also encourages his riders to remember that they surf to have fun. South Coast team riders are not required to compete, and the team is more a family of kids than individuals surfing with free gear.
As the South Coast family grows and changes, it’s good to know that there will be a new group of young bucks out there continuing to surf and live life positively in our community. As DC continues his work, we get a more positive vibe, which the surfing world could use a little more of in this author’s opinion.