Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, July 23, 2001


"We still get cards from kids who never thought they'd graduate
from high school, and now they're in college," said Richard
Robb, who with his wife, Linda, has led NSSA Hawaii

Amateur surf group
loses ‘cornerstones’

Richard and Linda Robb
step down as heads of NSSA Hawaii

By Brandon Lee

The Hawaii contingent completed another successful campaign at the National Scholastic Surfing Association's National Championships a month ago, yet may have suffered its biggest loss -- not in the water, but on land.

Richard and Linda Robb, the husband-and-wife duo from Kapolei who served as co-directors of the NSSA Hawaii Region for the past seven years, quietly relinquished their positions earlier this month. Six-year NSSA Hawaii volunteer Bobbi Parker has assumed the directorship for next season, which is tentatively set to start in mid-September.

"Richard and I are still very much involved in supporting Bobbi," Linda Robb said. "We'll still be around to help out, just not on the front-line anymore. (The NSSA Hawaii competitors) are all our kids, and when people ask me how many kids Richard and I have, I tell them 450."

Though the Robbs have only one son of their own -- World Championship Tour professional surfer Kalani Robb -- they have influenced scores of other Hawaii youths both in the surf and in the classroom.

Unlike other amateur surf organizations, the NSSA requires a 2.0 grade-point average from high school participants as well as all students in open divisions (NSSA explorer divisions are not GPA-restricted).

Long-time surfers and all-around ocean sports enthusiasts themselves, the Robbs got involved in amateur surf contests when Kalani, now 24, began to compete as a youngster. They initially focused on their son and were more behind-the-scenes at contests when he was an amateur.

After their son moved on to the pro ranks, the Robbs decided to take a more active role as NSSA Hawaii co-directors after seeing the positive influence the organization had on Kalani.

"This program was what made Kalani successful," Richard Robb said. "We want the kids to really stay with the program because it's a good one.

"For me, whether the kids become professionals is not important; the aspect of what the program does in school is paramount. We still get cards from kids who never thought they'd graduate from high school, and now they're in college."

Four years ago, Linda Robb was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. The couple wants to devote more time to treating the CFS problem as well as helping their son pursue some business interests here in Hawaii.

After spending so much time ensuring that Hawaii's youths maximized their potential in the surf and at school, the Robbs plan to spend more time in the ocean themselves.

"I'm purely Linda's support (with NSSA Hawaii)," Richard said. "If it were left to me, I wouldn't be able to do it.

"Us leaving does not end our involvement, but we need to take care of 'Lin.' She wants to get back in the water, and I want her back in because that means the more I'm in the water."

The Robbs said they are comfortable stepping down at this time because they have accomplished most of what they planned upon taking control of NSSA Hawaii seven years ago.

At the time, NSSA Hawaii existed primarily in name only. Now the organization offers a nine-contest regular season with both boys and girls participating heavily, and then going on to dominate at the national level in postseason competition.

"We brought the program to the level we wanted to in our time here," Linda said. "The only thing we haven't done -- but definitely got the snowball rolling -- is recognition in the schools (for surfing as an officially sanctioned Hawaii prep sport).

"But I think it's definitely happening, and that's what's left for Bobbi to do. Not everyone is going to play football or other big-name sports, and we can't let at-risk kids fall through the cracks when we don't have to."

One student who greatly appreciated the Robbs' efforts with NSSA Hawaii was recent Kahuku High graduate Garrett Bonner. The 18-year-old Bonner earned a 4.0 GPA during his last trimester at Kahuku, and also received the Kalani Robb Most Improved Surfer Award at last month's NSSA nationals after gaining his best result ever at the competition -- the quarterfinals of the open men's division.

Said Bonner of the Robbs: "It seems that they're always doing things for the kids. I think it won't be the same without them; they are the cornerstones of Hawaii amateur surfing."

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