Coach Josh Inspires Kids and Community With More Than His Positive Coaching
The kids, otherwise referred to as “nuggets” or “groms” by Nugget Surf, were getting ready for their lesson at Church. They were zipping their wetsuits and gathering all their surf gear. Josh Stiers, or Coach Josh as he’s called, saw one kid who needed help and went to his aid.
“Some of them need help getting in their suits,” he says, “but it’s funny because they’ll paddle out in like eight to nine-foot surf.”
Nugget Surf is a Surf School dedicated to leading kids in the right direction, both in and out of the water. Stiers started the school about a year ago after spending a few years as a head coach with Soul Surf. When Soul Surf closed, many parents encouraged him to find a way to keep coaching. They told him how good he was with kids, and this gave him drive and passion to start the school.
The Surf School offers a service to “Nuggets/Gromz that allows them to complete Their Individual Goals (Corrections/Maneuvers) set by their coach on a weekly basis” (NuggetSurf.com). The school offers sessions on a daily basis at different beaches throughout Orange County. There’s an option to be part of a “Surf Club” which allows the kids to receive lessons in a team setting, or lessons can be taken privately. There are summer sessions and camps as well as sessions tailored around school schedules. You can also find more information about the school on Instagram @Nugget_Surf.
The group of kids getting ready for their lesson at Church were part of a summer Surf Club and all surfed at an intermediate level. Church is an ideal spot for them to have lessons partially because of its break. Stiers says Church is in between a beginner wave, such as those found at San-O and an advanced wave, like at Lowers or Uppers. The kids finished getting ready as Stiers gave them preparatory tips on where to paddle out and where to grab the rail. He reminded one student that “where the head goes the body follows.”
While giving the kids tips and getting ready himself, Stiers spoke of his own introduction to surfing. Though he didn’t start surfing until he was 22, he was a natural. He started surfing at T-Street and had friends who came alongside him and encouraged him. He starting competing and ended up winning a few Western Surfing Association competitions. While the natural talent for surfing has helped him to be a good coach, there’s much more to the story.
Part of the reason Stiers picked up surfing at 22 was that his doctors told him he shouldn’t. The bacteria in the ocean water is a threat to his health because of lifelong medical complications. Stiers was born with Cystic Fibrosis and had a double-lung-transplant at the age of 11. A self-proclaimed rebel, he says the doctors told him he shouldn’t do a lot of things, but he did them anyway. Although he has fallen sick from mixing with the ocean water on occasion, he keeps surfing because he truly loves it.
Stiers says it’s not the good things that happen in life that make people stronger, but the bad things.
“If we learn to be thankful for those things and allow them to let us grow,” he says, “that’s what truly makes us stronger.”
Stiers is leading the kids at Nugget Surf by example. It’s not only his love and ability to surf that inspires them; it’s his story. Having overcome so many obstacles in his own life, he is a beacon of hope for the kids. He says if the kids ever think they can’t do something, he reminds them that if he can do it, so can they. He’s teaching them about perseverance and resilience.
On the sand, as he prepared to paddle out, Stiers waxed his own board with neon-orange Sticky Bumps Day-Glo. He continued reflecting on his journey and how it has affected his coaching. He says he has a God-given gift with children. With this gift, he’s helping them to believe in themselves. In and out of the water, he’s helping the kids to think positively and be positive forces in their own lives. Plus, he says, he’s kind of little like them and they love that.