Get to know USA Surfing Interim CEO Brandon Lowery
As USA Surfing’s new interim CEO, Brandon Lowery is stoked about the opportunity to continue supporting the next generation of elite competitive surf athletes.
With a background in economics and finance, Brandon helped launch high-performance sports training facilities, a series of wave pools and skateparks around the world, and initiatives like the 2020 pre-Olympic Games training camp that brought together athletes from snowboarding, skating and surfing to learn about preparing for the world’s largest sporting stage.
We asked Brandon a few questions about his background and plans for USA Surfing:
Q. Congrats on the new job! How are things going so far?
A. It’s an honor and privilege to be brought in to lead USA Surfing and build upon what Greg, Andrea and the board have established. I’m deeply grateful.
Young surfers want a platform and trusted feedback as they continually strive to get better and better.
The Toyota USA Surfing Prime Series and Championship events are a highly respected means of providing that valuable feedback and a core part of the future.
I am in listening and learning mode this first month, and am pursuing new relationships and supporters both in and out of the surf community.
We want to create a powerful platform to tell the world about surfing and empower people who are passionate about the sport.
Q. How do you intend to do that?
A. I’ve been blessed to work with influential players in sports, music, entertainment, finance and business. And in those circles there is so much interest in supporting surfing.
I’m here to put that big, dynamic network to work. Everyone I’m talking to is so excited about the opportunity for surfing to continue growing and being successful.
Building on the success of the Prime Series and Championship, we have an opportunity to focus even more on the athletes — from the young up-and-comers to the elite-level pros heading to the 2024 Olympics.
Our goal is to have a strong talent pipeline that will be supported in preparing for successful careers.
Q. One newspaper article questioned whether USA Surfing would be taking athletes to the 2024 Olympic Games where the surf venue is 9,800 miles away from the host city, Paris, in massive, and often-dangerous Teahupo’o. It states that the USOPC will be folding that work into their organization. How will that work?
A. Based on my conversations, that is inaccurate and would certainly be unwise considering the imperative of having strong local knowledge and relationships at Chopes to give Team USA the competitive edge and safety needed to be successful. I have been having great working meetings with USOPC’s high performance staff, those with relationships in Paris and Tahiti, and my own network on the ground.
The USOPC has asked us to lead the work, leading up to 2024 and we expect that all our efforts to expand and strengthen USA Surfing programming will lead back to NGB status.
The U.S. has the best Chopes surfers in the world and Teahupo’o is now part of the WSL CT schedule. It would be irresponsible not to leverage decades of local venue and big-wave, barrel knowledge and medical support to set them up for success.
In addition, and perhaps most important — USA Surfing remains the recognized governing body under the International Surfing Association, recognized by the International Olympic Committee as surfing’s world governing authority for the Olympic Games.
Q. The next generation of American surf talent is taking off, what kind of support will USA Surfing offer them?
A. I had the chance to watch two elite junior Prime Series events — Salt Creek and Steamer Lane and am looking forward to many more. It’s clear surfers and their parents value and rely on the unparalleled feedback and fun they get through the USA Surfing Prime Series and Championships at Lowers.
America’s best talents — Caroline Marks, Lakey Peterson, Courtney Conlogue, Caity Simmers, Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Gabriela Bryan, Alyssa Spencer, Conner and Parker Coffin, Crosby and Griffin Colapinto, Jake and Nick Marshall, Taro Watanabe and more all frothed to compete in USA Surfing Championships at Lowers. It really is a proving ground, and front row seat for the future of surfing.
We know that supporting and growing young surf talent is continuous — not just every four years. The Prime Series and Championships is core to that work.
I’m also having conversations with those involved in the regional and other national organizations that prepare and/or qualify surfers for the Prime Series locally.
NSSA, HSA, WSA, ESA, TGSA, Grom Search, Grom Tour, fantastic coaches, surf brands, shops and so many others play a critical role in fielding talent and giving them a platform to hone their skills.
We want to be a rising tide that lifts all of surfing’s prospects.
That could be providing kids and their parents access to mental health resources and tips for building resilience, giving the kids help in making and marketing their edits, helping them make decisions about agents, continuing their education, livestreaming more events, recruiting more judges to participate in ISA’s judging certification program, and more. The potential is huge.
Q. What about USA Surfing’s 2x Gold-Medal-winning ISA World Para Surfing Championship team with multiple medalist surfers who are frothing to compete in the Paralympic Games?
A. I’m blown away by the level of skill in USA Surfing’s ISA World Para Surf team. The para surf athletes and their support teams are putting in hours of hard work training, dialing in their equipment and more. They absolutely belong on the world Paralympic stage.
We are grateful to the ISA for putting on outstanding events and continuing to push for para surfing to be in the Paralympic Games in 2028. We want to do all we can to support the athletes and get them to that pinnacle sporting stage.
Much progress has been made to put surfing on a path to make a 2028 Paralympic debut, but probably the hardest and most important work remains.
Q. You have focused a lot on the role of recovery and rehab in action sports. Why is that so important?
A. I’ve read the research and know first hand about the therapeutic powers of surfing. After a skating accident paralyzed my leg, I was in a wheelchair for a good bit and had an intense recovery program that included surfing.
You can’t beat the healing power of surfing and being in the ocean — emotionally, physically and spiritually. The stoke, lightness and freedom of riding across a wave is a transcendent therapy. I couldn’t skate for about four years, but two years after my injury, I was able to start surfing again — switch stance!”
Action sports are punishing and our athletes are naturally resilient, but we are learning a lot from other sports about the role of recovery in performing at higher levels. This is especially true with the increased air reps that come with wave pool practice and more time spent in the gym. I’m looking forward to strengthening surfers’ access to the latest in recovery science and tools.
Q. How would you describe your background and preparation for this role?
A. I was born in North Carolina and grew up skateboarding and surfing in Australia and got to become good friends with legends like “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Mick Fanning, Dean Morrison and others from Oz. I loved it. How could you not seeing those legends every day?!
I also participated in traditional sports such as tennis and soccer. I was on my way to a full-time professional career for soccer after serving a full-ride scholarship to a university in South Carolina; but snapped my leg at the skatepark which ended my professional career as an athlete. Believe it or not, that pushed me farther into action sports where I spent the following 13 years living in Sydney, Australia developing business enterprises.
As a previous member of the U.S. National Olympic Development Program for soccer, a competitive tennis player, avid skateboarder, surfer and snowboarder, I’m passionate about community development programs with a focus towards action sports, music, and education that lead to lifelong skillsets including financial literacy, marketing, and career building.
I’ve had more than 15 years of experience in developing athlete-centric initiatives, training facilities and real estate projects around the world. My background and expertise are anchored in due diligence, strategy, joint ventures, fundraising, programming and partnerships.
My goal is creating long-term financial strength and independence.
We’ll achieve that by delivering more value to surfers to help them progress, leveraging existing and new partnerships, and continuing to do our part to elevate surfing as the incredible sport and lifestyle it is.
Over the next few months I look forward to meeting more surfers, parents, coaches and industry leaders and hearing their thoughts and ideas for surfing’s future. Clear and consistent two-way communication will be a priority. I want to hear from surfers, parents and coaches about what’s working, what they’d like to see more of, and prioritize. I view this as an important building year that reflects the values and priorities that make our sport and lifestyle so special.
Q. You talk about the role of education and career building in surfing. What do you mean by that?
A. I think that’s somewhat of a missing piece in surfing. I’m stoked to see Stab sharing investment advice, and NSSA’s focus on higher education.
We need to do more to help create generational wealth, impactful marketing/media and career planning in surfing.
These are the kinds of things that will lead to million-dollar appearance fees for surfers and other enterprises that set more than a handful of them up for life.
- Read more about USA Surfing’s path forward and hear from others who shared their support for Brandon Lowery’s new leadership and vision for the future of USA Surfing
- Find out more about USA Surfing and how to support the next generation at www.usasurfing.org