Extra Points: Golf, Surfing Took Precedence Over Eagles Game
The Eagles supposedly looked good in their opener Sunday.
Rumor has it quarterback Jalen Hurts was superb, rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith was outstanding and the defense was dominant in a 32-6 victory over the Falcons in Atlanta.
I wouldn't know.
Because my wife forgot to DVR the game for me, I was restricted to seeing highlights when I got home from some more pressing matters Sunday night. Thus, my weekly Eagles two-minute drill will have to wait until next week.
My afternoon was spent at Cape May National Golf Club, where I was lucky enough to win the men's B Flight - we played from the white tees - of the two-day club championships. It marked my first victory in at least five appearances in the tournament. As happy as I was, I resisted the urge to dive into the pond on the 18th hole, lest I get accosted by a turtle, bass or some other creature lurking beneath the surface.
Afterward, I headed to the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City, where the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame was inducting its biennial ceremony.
The 2021 inductees included a slew of South Jersey legends, pioneers whose passion and dedication to surfing in the 1960s and 70s paved the way for the current crop of standouts.
Atlantic City's Mike Beschen, Margate's Jim Earle, the late Jimmy Kirk from Ocean City, Longport's David Scibal and Brigantine's Bob Simon were among those honored. The Hall of Fame class also included Gary Clayton, the late Ruth Grottola, Same Hammer, Barb Heritage, John Ker, Renny Koseff and Scott Thompson.
Kirk, brother of former South Jersey rowing champion Ron Kirk, created the Hall of Fame in 2015. He passed away last November from complications of heart disease.
Beschen, Earle, Kirk, Scibal and Simon were part of a generation whose lives revolved around the waves. Whenever Beschen and Scibal didn't show up for school, truant officers always knew to just head to the nearest beach.
"It took me five years to graduate from Atlantic City High School," Beschen said with a laugh. "I was supposed to graduate in 1967, but had to wait until 1968. And that was because of surfing."
The lure of the waves also pulled on Scibal.
He attended community college in hopes of earning an associate's degree, but frequently found himself in the ocean instead of the classroom.
"It took me six years to go through a two-year program," Scibal said. "That's because the waves were always good on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I had classes."
They all got their start in the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when surfing had just started to make its way from California to South Jersey.
Simon, who was unable to attend Sunday's induction, was one of the originals. The 78-year-old began surfing in Brigantine in the late 1950's, catching waves at the north end of Sea Horse Pier, known to locals as "The Castle." In 1963, he created the first Brigantine Beach Surf Club and served as a mentor to locals such as Hall of Famer Linda Davoli.
Beschen, 70, got his first taste of the sport while visiting relatives in North Wildwood.
"My cousin (the late Jim Beschen) and I would go to the back bay with an air mattress and that's how I first learned to catch waves," he said.
Jim Beschen went on to become a member of the North Wildwood Beach Patrol before making the ultimate sacrifice while fighting in the Vietnam War. In 1969, the Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard race was created in honor of Jim Beschen and fellow lifeguard Michael Callahan, who also died in that war.
At 13, Mike Beschen and his family moved to Ventnor and he began to hone his craft in Atlantic City and the Ventnor Pier with fellow members of the Downbeach Surf Club.
Beschen could not afford his own surfboard, so he spent two years sitting on the beach and waiting to borrow boards from other surfers before joining the famous Curcio Surf Team in Atlantic City along with Earle and Hall of Famer Mark Neustadter.
Once he finally graduated from Atlantic City, he headed to California.
"The waves were better, the weather was better and the girls were better," said Beschen, who now lives in Hawaii.
"But I never forgot those days in Atlantic City."
Scibal got his start as a 9-year-old in 1963 on the advice of some friends and his swimming coach, Roger Platt.
He rode his first wave at 29th Street in Longport, at a break called "Scriptures" because it was located in front of the Gospel Hall Home for the Aged.
"Once I caught my first wave, that was it for me," Scibal said. "I was in love."
It started an affair that has never ended.