Surf City Athletes At The Tokyo Olympics
Alex Wolf, Kanoa Igarashi, T.J. DeFalco and Brandon Loschiavo all went to the same high school – Huntington Beach High School – at the same time. All four (Wolf on the water polo team, Igarashi in surfing, DeFalco in indoor volleyball, and Loschiavo in platform diving) are proud Oilers (mascot name of the high school).
Wolf was not only a teammate of DeFalco on the best American boys high school volleyball team in history, but he was only the leading water polo player in America while Loschiavo starred on the diving team while in school.
Wolf went onto becoming the NCAA Championship Most Valuable Player while winning a collegiate championship for UCLA. DeFalco was similarly names AVCA Player of the Year while winning two NCAA championships for Long Beach State. Loschiavo won an NCAA title in the 10-meter platform for Purdue University.
While all three are among the most renowned athletes in their respective sports and have won domestic titles and earned accolades, none of them touch – even collectively – the fame and fortune of their Oiler classmate Igarashi.
Igarashi is, simply stated, a superstar. He won the U.S. Open, the largest surf competition in the world two years running, and has sponsorships from Oakley, Quiksilver, Red Bull, Visa, Beats by Dre, and Japanese cosmetics companies. His likeness is shown in huge multi-story billboards in the center of Tokyo and he pulls in over US$2 million per year.
Igarashi’s parents were born in Japan, but moved to the United States to give their child the best possible shot at becoming a professional surfer. Their long-term strategy was executed to plan as Igarashi surfed daily in Huntington Beach, known as Surf City USA.
“It is amazing that so many accomplished athletes – at the international level – were all students at one public high school at the same time. I can see a good number of international athletes all coming from a private school where students come from a wide area, but these guys all grew up in the same area,” said Steven Munatones, also of Huntington Beach.
“In Huntington Beach, there are 8 miles of a wide sand beach that offer great year-round surfing, beach volleyball, and ocean swimming, with a vibrant community near the pier. You can nearly always swim with playful dolphins just outside the surf break – they literally just pop up and swim alongside you. The coastline is straight there so it is easy to do down-and-back swims along the coast. The water temperature occasionally drops to 56F and usually hovers a bit above 70F in August and September on most days.
It is a wonderful place to swim.”
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