A familiar face is playing a new role in the career of professional surfer Kolohe Andino. Long-time competitive and big-wave surfer and contest director Mike "Snips" Parsons recently left his post as Special Projects and Athlete Manager at Billabong after 10 years to become the 17-year-old super-grom's full-time coach.
Parsons's relationship with the Andino family spans three decades, having surfed and coached with Kolohe's father Dino. Both have been instrumental in Kolohe's evolution as a surfer. "I've always been great friends with the family. I've worked with [Kolohe] in the past and been involved with him as a surfer," Parsons told ESPN.
Now it's official. As the end of Andino's junior career nears, his sights set on making it to the World Tour, he felt the time was right to bring on a coach who could shape his talent into a formidable competitive cunning. "I always thought it would be a cool idea because we work really well together," Kolohe said. "The things I needed to improve on, [Parsons] is best at." As Parsons put it, the arrangement "was a mutual thing."
The partnership became formal at the Rob Machado Seaside Pro Junior in late April. Kolohe finished second, but the event prepared he and Parsons for this week's Nike 6.0 (Kolohe's feature sponsor, a list that also includes industry heavyweights like Red Bull, Target and Oakley) Lowers Pro in San Clemente, Calif. "Kolohe's at a point, with all the ability in the world, where someone like myself could help," observed Parsons.
That help often arrives in the form of strategic advice. "There's more scrambling in multiple man heats," Kolohe said, and waves offering solid scoring potential are harder to come by. So, honing his wave selection is key. When heats turn man-on-man, Parsons described the positioning as a chess match. "[Kolohe] has to be aggressive," said Parsons. "He has all the moves and the power now to turn and do carves."
The partnership adds to a growing number of elite surfers hiring coaches, World Tour veterans Joel Parkinson and brothers CJ and Damien Hobgood among them.
For Parsons, chances to coach have been plentiful. Dino and he ran surf camps for top young competitors in years past -- with Parsons teaching strategy and Dino technique. But only the right opportunity would pull him from his position with Billabong. "I wouldn't have coached anyone but Kolohe," said Parsons, whose commitment is exclusive. "It's a lifestyle thing. I wanted to entrench myself in the beach and be around contests." Parsons expects he'll do freelance work, some contest directing and webcasting.
A big part of the job will be traveling with Andino to events in places like Brazil and Indonesia. Parsons said he's looking forward to visiting those places again, but this time with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.
The duo is laying the framework for success early on. "We've identified some goals," Parsons revealed, "he wants to be North American junior champion, and he's in a good position to do that." Strong performances at the junior pro events are a priority, as is qualifying for the Triple Crown in November. To that end, Parsons said Kolohe needs to spend time surfing heavier waves, like Teahupoo and Pipeline, and work on his tube riding in particular.
Their work is in progress: Andino flew to Tahiti for two weeks after the Machado contest. He's advanced in each of his heats at the Lowers Pro. He's jumps rope to warm-up. Turns out Parsons's most important job is providing perspective. "Kolohe needs to keep having fun and still be a 17 year-old," he said.