Accomplished competitive surfer Josh Holland isn’t allowing waves to get between himself, his schoolwork and his hobby. The Regent University freshman placed first in open stand up paddle-boarding and longboarding at the East Coast Surfing Championship at Virginia Beach Oceanfront. It’s one of the biggest surfing contests in North America, and it’s held annually just miles from Regent’s campus.
“I’ve been doing this contest forever, and I was really nervous about college starting, and it’s the same week, but I was really blessed that my heat was not around my classes, so it worked out perfectly,” said Holland.
Friday’s contest was open stand up paddle-boarding. It includes all age groups, and requires surfers to hit the water for 15 to 20 minutes. Judges look at the paddlers’ maneuvers on their top two waves and average the scores.
“It’s very nerve-wracking because you always know the scores, and you need a better wave to get in a better position,” said Holland.
At the age of 8, Holland picked up paddle-boarding and surfing in Hawaii where his dad was a pastor. Through hard work and a competitive spirit, Holland began competing at age 12 after his family moved to Virginia Beach. He earned multiple sponsorships and succeeded in competitions.
“We have a whole surfing family,” said Dr. Danny Holland, School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC) assistant professor. “We’re all different levels, and we all enjoy different kinds of surfing. He’s by far the most competitive. He’s a professional competitor. He’s been all over the word.”
Holland practices two times per week, and all day on the weekends throughout the summer. He says stamina is the key to coming up on-top in competitions, and plans on using that stamina to tackle his next endeavor, pursuing an undergraduate degree in counseling so he can eventually apply to Regent’s Psy.D. program.
“I love talking to people, and if I get to do that as a job, that’s my goal,” said Holland. “I really feel called to talk to kids. Through church and life, I’ve always been the one talking to others, people coming up to me with problems, and I feel like this is what God is calling me to do.”
Holland says surfing has helped him meet and talk to all sorts of different people, giving him an opportunity to be a mentor. During a trip to Mexico, he helped teach autistic kids to surf. Now, he’s building relationships with his Regent classmates, encouraging them to latch onto a love for surfing and the ocean.
“It’s literally a 15 minute drive down to the oceanfront,” said Holland. “You can tan, surf, go to classes, come back to the beach. It’s perfect. You couldn’t ask for a better life.”
Holland is eager to join Regent’s Surfing and Adventure Club, but will keep his education as his first priority.