2019 Marsh Scholarship Recipients Announced

August 24, 2019 – The Eastern Surfing Association is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of its annual Marsh Scholarship Award.

For over 35 years the Marsh Scholarship Award provide financial aid to deserving student surfers who are pursuing college and/or graduate school degrees. Applicants are judged by a panel of six trustees on the basis of academic accomplishments, recommendations,  and related credentials with winners announced in time for the upcoming school year.

The program was named in honor of the Marsh Family of North Carolina who were ESA pioneers, aad specifically for Mike Marsh who set an example for all students by earning his law degree while fighting cancer.

“This may be the toughest competition that the ESA offers,” said Kit Henningsen, ESA’s special program director who oversees the Marsh Scholarship Fund.  “Academic excellence is an ongoing challenge that demands rigorous discipline and consistent hard work.”

The 2019 Marsh Scholarship Award winners have certainly excelled across all requirements:

Georgia Cook – ESA Georgia District – One of seven students at Samford University (Alabama) selected for a Fast Track combination Bachelor of Science / Doctorate program in Physical Therapy.

Cory Jackson – ESA SSC District –  Flagler College –  majoring in Coastal  Environmental Science with an emphasis on the study of coral reef ecosystems  formation / restoration / biodiversity.

Jade Beasley –  ESA FCFL District – Jacksonville University – School of Nursing – Seeking dual credentials as U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer and Registered Nurse.


“The ESA has given me friends, an understanding of how to be competitive, and a deep love for surfing,” said 2019 recipient Georgia Cook, being carried up the beach for her first place win at the ESA’s Southeast Regional.

“I would just like to thank the ESA and the scholarship committee for their support in furthering my education,” top recipient Georgia Cook said.  “This scholarship shows just how much the ESA cares about their competitors as a whole person, not just the athlete part. My family and I are incredibly grateful for this support to help me achieve my goal of becoming a physical therapist.”

ESA congratulates this years winners and wishes them every future success!

East Coast Surfers Qualify for The Next Level

The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) has made it easier for its members to reach their next level of surfing competition by partnering with the World Surf League (WSL)’s East Coast Qualifying Series (QS) and Pro Junior events.  This groundbreaking partnership creates an unprecedented opportunity for competitors who are looking to pursue a higher level of competitive surfing from the WSL.

Following an exciting season of ESA Regional post-season surfing championship events in Florida, North Carolina and New Jersey, the top finalists may receive an opportunity to compete in the higher level WSL QS & Pro Junior events this summer and fall.  In addition, all ESA Regional event finalists have now qualified to compete in the ESA’s Easterns® Surfing Championship.

The Easterns® is the ESA’s premier surfing championship event that is held every September at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina and sponsored by The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.   This annual competition for all ages has been held for nearly fifty years, and only the ESA’s top Regional event finalists are invited to participate in this elite East Coast pinnacle event for surfing.

“Everyone wants to claim an Easterns® championship,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director.  “Winning at Easterns® has always been, and continues to be, a personal goal for every East Coast competitive surfer, especially if they wish to pursue a professional surfing career.”

Because the ESA wants to be sure its competitors are prepared for the WSL events, they began offering four-man priority heats at the championship level for the divisions from where they are pulling from.  David Portch, ESA Head Judge and WSL Priority Judge, implemented the WSL priority system at all three ESA Regional events, including hosting Q&A clinics on the beach for ESA competitors to learn more about the WSL priority rules.

ESA Head Judge and WSL East Coast Priority Head Judge David Portch led Priority Q & A Clinics to help ESA members understand the WSL system of priority, including the WSL rules. Photo: McMullin

Presenting the Priority Q&A clinics alongside ESA All-Star Coach Jason Motes and Dylan O’Donnell introduced ESA competitors to the strategy and structure of competition of the highest levels of surfing.  These clinics were based on Live Scoring and Priority Heats.

“At the true core and base of Priority, you will find the concept of fair surfing – your turn, you’re up next,” said Portch. “This creates an equal playing field for the competitors, giving them the ability to use their Live Scores and Priority together to choose scoring waves and let their surfing do the talking.”

Strategy in Priority will come in time with experience and understanding the basic rules and concepts.  The ESA has provided this experience at their three Regional events, and will include the four man priority heats for several divisions in the ESA’s 2019 Easterns® Championship.

The ESA invited WSL North America Tour Manager Brian Robbins to be a part of its Northeast Regional event to see how the organization is implementing WSL practices into its events.  Robbins was on hand to participate in the Priority Q&A Clinic as well.

WSL North America Tour Manager Brian Robbins (right) was on hand at the ESA’s Northeast Regional in Belmar, NJ to witness the organization’s implementation of four-man priority heats into its premier divisions. ESA event officials (L to R) Dylan O’Donnell, Comp Director Joe Grottola, Head Judge David Portch, Lisa Roselli, Pam Hill, Michelle Sommers and Robbins. Photo: MEZ/ESM

“Visiting the ESA’s Northeast Regionals in Belmar was a great experience and really showed me the value of making this partnership happen,” said Robbins. “To have the ESA embracing WSL rules and formats is so beneficial for the up and coming competitor base who are looking to participate in Pro Junior and Qualifying Series events in the future. We couldn’t be more appreciative of their support and we look forward to seeing who takes the championship titles at Easterns® in September.”

ESA Regional event top finalists who meet the evolving criteria within the Men/Women, Jr. Men/Women U18 and Open Shortboard divisions may gain slots into the next East Coast WSL QS events.  Champions in the Boys/Girls U16 divisions may qualify for the ESA-sponsored slots for the WSL Pro Junior events.  All slots will be allocated based on WSL offerings.

Overall district, regional and Easterns® performance, along with age and ESA dedication will be factors that determine which ESA competitors will be given the ESA-sponsored slots.  The partnership with the ESA and WSL has already shown that there is a lot of unnoticed surfing talent along the East Coast.

“Many talented competitors may not have the financial means to travel in order to participate in the other events that claim to be where they must participate in order to advance themselves so they give up,” said Sommers.  “The ESA knows there are plenty of qualified competitors who just need support to be able to show their skills, and they shouldn’t have to jump through so many hoops to get there.”

“We want to be sure we are sending the best of the ESA to represent the ESA into these WSL events,” added Sommers.  “While that certainly includes their ability to perform at that next level of competition, it also makes sure we are sending competitors who are proud to be representing the ESA.”

Rip Curl has also partnered with the ESA to sponsor the top ESA All-Stars from the Boys/Girls U14 divisions into its Rip Curl GromSearch Series that will be held in Florida and North Carolina this summer.

“The ESA is proud to offer its competitors all of these opportunities that may not have been achievable for them personally for various reasons,” added Sommers.  “We are offering our members a pathway to get to where they want to go, without the unnecessary financial and travel burdens that may have held them back previously.”

“What an incredible time to be a part of the East Coast and the ESA. With these changes, you will find that the ESA provides development at all levels, from the beginner, amateur and pro level,” adds Portch. “The ESA is a family and wants to see your surfing dreams come into fruition. Over time, these practices will catapult the competitive level of every ESA surfer.”

ESA Crowns Northeast Champions in Belmar, NJ

Clear skies and warm weather welcomed the Eastern Surfing Association last weekend in Belmar, New Jersey as they held the 2019 Northeast Regional Surfing Championships presented by Surfer Dudes.  The event was the third, and final, regional contest that the ESA holds each spring for competitors to qualify for slots into The Easterns® Surfing Championship, as well as East Coast WSL QS/Pro Junior events.

The contest was located in front of Eastern Lines Surf Shop, a major supporter of the ESA through the years.  Belmar local Cecil Lear, ESA’s co-founder, came out to watch the event.
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ESA’s Northeast Regional Surfing Championship begins Friday in Belmar, New Jersey

ESA All-Star Cole Deveney surfing at the 2018 Northeast Regional. Photo: MEZ/ESM

The Eastern Surfing Association will hold its 2019 Northeast Regional Surfing Championship presented by Surfer Dudes this weekend across from Eastern Lines Surf Shop at 16th Avenue in Belmar, New Jersey. The third, and final qualifying event for ESA’s Easterns® Surfing Championship will begin Friday and run through Sunday afternoon.

ESA surfers from Maine through New Jersey and the Great Lakes will be competing with hopes of being named “Northeast Champion” of their age divisions. They have qualified to surf in this regional event by earning points in their local ESA district events throughout last year’s season.
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ESA Mid-Atlantic Champions Crowned At Jennette’s Pier

Jennette’s Pier always offers contestable surf for ESA events. Here is Jack Viorel of ESA’s sponsor Indo Jax Surf School in his heat on Friday. Photo: MEZ/ESM

The Eastern Surfing Association held its second championship event of the season last weekend at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina.  The weather and waves provided great conditions for the best surfers from Delaware through South Carolina to claim an ESA Mid-Atlantic Champion title, and to qualify for The 2019 Easterns® Surfing Championship.

“The Outer Banks delivered again,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director.  “This is one of the best locations for our championship events because there always seems to be contestable waves at each of our events.”

While the high tide delayed the early morning start times, the waves showed up when required for the adult and youth divisions throughout the weekend.
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ESA Crowns Southeast Champions In Florida

The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) kicked off its championship season with its 2019 Southeast Regional Surfing Championship this past weekend at Paradise Beach Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida.  Competitive surfers from Florida, Georgia and Alabama enjoyed sunny, warm weather with consistent small surf.

“Central Florida is a great location for our event each year as is always produces contestable surf for our competitors who have worked so hard to get here,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director.  “We were blessed this year with great weather throughout the entire event.”

While the smaller waves created challenging conditions for the adult divisions, the younger age divisions proved that there is a lot of talent rising in the south.
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