Standing on the edge of PLNU’s soccer field, in the dirt patches where the green park benches used to be, passersby can make out black figures floating along the ocean’s whitecaps. Despite looking like sea lions, they’re actually surfers, campus Sea Lions, just a quarter mile off the Sunset Cliffs beach. With the sand and surf being within walking distance from campus and open to students as well as local residents, there’s rarely a moment where the waters aren’t occupied by aquaholics hoping to catch a wave.
Earlier this month, PLNU was ranked number three in the “Top 10 Best Surf Colleges in America” by Surfer Magazine for its “array of quality waves just a few steps away.” Jordan Kudla, PLNU senior and co-captain of the university’s surf team, said PLNU’s uniquely close proximity to the water was one of the main reasons he chose to attend.
“It was the only place I applied,” said Kudla. “I figured that if I wanted to go to college, that [PLNU] was the only place I wanted to go. I’d say it was 50 percent of my reason for attending.”
Junior Madeline LoMonaco, another member of the team, believes that the university’s campus is like a magnet to other young surfers looking to get a degree and be active in the water.
“I first heard about Point Loma when I just searched ‘best surf schools in the country,’ and it was up there,” said LoMonaco. “I’ve heard about so many people who have wanted to transfer to come here. I guess good surfers think alike.”
Kudla added, “It’s just having the ocean right there… everybody who chooses this school falls in love with the view. Our whole team, everybody chose this school because it’s so close to the water.”
The school’s surf team has certainly helped further the reputation of the PLNU surfing community. They’ve won the NSSA National Championships three years in a row, earning them the season title, the state title and the national title. Having gone against some of the best schools on both the East Coast and the West Coast, this is something the team is immensely proud of.
“Since I have been here, we have won pretty much every single thing we’ve entered in, which is pretty crazy,” said Kudla. “Hopefully we’ll continue that this year.”
Though PLNU’s aesthetically pleasing location and competitive surf team have helped place it in top ranks, LoMonaco and Kudla both believe PLNU actually deserved to be ranked number one in the article.
“I think we totally got jipped,” said LoMonaco. “The photo in the article isn’t even a photo of Sunset Cliffs. It’s a photo of Ocean Beach. For a school where you can see the waves break from classrooms and dorm rooms and has a surf team that’s won nationals three years in a row… I don’t know what else I would want. We can just walk from our campus to the water. In Santa Cruz you have to get into your car and drive.”
UCSD was ranked the number one surf school in the country by Surfer and UC Santa Cruz was ranked number two. Kudla said he was “honestly surprised” by the results and believes PLNU should also have been the winner in the polls.
“I’m probably a little biased but when I was choosing a school to go to, for surfing this is the best place to go to,” said Kudla. “UCSD is in a really good location… but our location is better. At UCSD it takes you 15 minutes to walk down to the beach and 25 minutes to get back. Here, you can get to the water in just a couple minutes.”
He added, “If you want to further your surfing and become better at it, I think it’s extremely important to have good access to the ocean and good waves where you’re at.”