January 14, 2021 – After leading surfing into its first Olympic Games and launching surfing’s premiere youth talent development Toyota USA Surfing Prime Series, CEO Greg Cruse is passing USA Surfing’s leadership baton to Brandon Lowery – a pioneer in the surf and action sport industry.
As USA Surfing’s new interim CEO, Lowery is excited about the opportunity to continue building the next generation of elite competitive athletes. Recognizing the exceptional growth in young American surf talent, USA Surfing separated its association with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee as the National Governing Body for Olympic surfing for the non-Olympic year. Collectively the organizations agreed that USA Surfing can best serve the sport and its athletes by investing in talent development and expanding the pipeline of Olympic hopefuls leading up to 2024 and beyond.
“It is an honor to lead USA Surfing at this exciting time in the sport’s development,” Lowery said. “Surfing is growing and diversifying exponentially, and the progression in youth surfing is incredible! These young athletes are pulling off crazy aerials and maneuvers that are so fun to see. We need to give these young phenoms more support and opportunities to shine and grow!”
Lowery played a leading role in bringing together Olympic surfers, skaters and snowboarders for a three-day 2021 Olympic training camp at BSR Surf Resort wave pool where Olympic athletes and coaches learned about what to expect on the world's largest sporting stage and how to prepare for the unique venue.
Lowery will work with outgoing CEO Greg Cruse to continue and strengthen the Toyota USA Surfing Prime Series, which has helped a generation of WSL pro surfers hone their competitive skills, including America’s first Olympians Kolohe Andino and Caroline Marks (who like Caitlin Simmers, qualified for the WSL Championship Tour while still competing in the Prime Series). In addition, USA Surfing’s ISA World Para Surfing team just won its second team World Gold medal with a powerhouse team that will only get stronger with the right support. It was USA Surfing’s strongest showing in the ISA World Para Surfing Championship event’s six-year history, with nine American surfers making the podium.
“What better time to transition, after coming home with surfing’s first Olympic Gold Medal and chairing Carissa up the beach, and capping off the year with a Para Surfing ISA World Championship team Gold Medal,” said Cruse, named to OC Register's "2021 Top Influencers" list. “It has been a personal and professional privilege to support a generation of surfers who started in USA Surfing’s Prime Series and are now competing at the highest levels of sport. I know youth competitive surfing is in good hands with Brandon Lowery. Brandon is a well-connected doer, who can attract investors and sponsors needed to support the development of surfing’s next generation of talent.”
Olympic coach and two-time U.S. Open champion Brett Simpson thanked Greg for providing him with some of the greatest opportunities of his career. “I’m stoked Brandon will be leading the charge in Prime’s next chapter. Brandon pulled out all the stops for surfing’s Olympic Training Camp at BSR Surf Resort, and worked diligently to make sure all the athletes and staff were put in the best position possible to succeed. We had amazing, healthy meals and hydration, and the recovery room was a huge hit! With his connections, surfers will have even more resources to get better and better.”
While the U.S. has some of the strongest youth surf talent in the world, there isn’t a systemic means of supporting that talent beyond the surf brands who can only sponsor so many surfers and the World Surf League’s Championship Tour. Lowery said he will continue to focus on bridging the gap between budding young amateurs and the WSL’s Qualifying Series and Championship Tour.
Lowery said he’s been encouraged by surfing becoming increasingly sophisticated in its approach to training, motion analysis, injury prevention and recovery. Lowery was the point person ensuring the 2021 Olympic Games surfers had rehab and recovery tools in Japan.
GiGi Lucas, Founder of SurfearNEGRA and recently added USA Surfing Board Member said, “Being based on the East Coast, I’m seeing an increase in extraordinary talent developing. The increased opportunities for young surfers to access competition experience and advanced training opportunities is a recipe for countless future world champs and gold medals.”
“Working with Greg Cruse over the course of the last 18 years has been one of the greatest honors of my career. His drive and dedication to surfing has gone FAR beyond just the Olympics. What he has built for the next generation and through all of surfing's many styles, Adaptive, Shortboard, Longboard, and SUP is the stuff of legend,” declared Christian “Otter” Bailey, Captain, USA Surfing’s 2x ISA World Para Surfing Championship Gold Medal team. “With such massive shoes to fill, I'm stoked that the torch is being passed to someone as passionate, driven and capable as Brandon Lowery. He has a phenomenal reputation within the action sports community and a proven track record of success in taking big ideas and turning them into reality. I very much look forward to working with Brandon, in continuing to grow our Para Team, in our collective drive to the Paralympics!”
Lowery said over the next few months he looks 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,” Lowery said. “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.”
Lowery said he is stoked about the level of support for surfing among corporate sponsors and donors and is looking forward to announcing new partnerships in the coming months.
Several standout athletes in surfing and the action sports industry shared their support for Brandon Lowery’s new leadership and vision for the future of USA Surfing. See below:
“Brandon has a relentless energy and positivity that just won’t stop. As an Olympic coach, snowboard and surf athlete, I’m excited about his USA Surfing leadership.” – Olympic snowboard coach (and surfer) JJ Thomas
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Brandon Lowery since 2018. I am ecstatic to learn that he will be acting as interim CEO for USA Surfing. Brandon is an extremely connected and respected individual throughout the action sports community. He understands the business side as well as doing what is best for athletes and their families. Energetic, goal oriented, and collaborative are significantly important variables to have in any leadership position. Brandon possesses these qualities and understands action sports which distinguishes him from other individuals. His background, personality, and work ethic has made him a successful businessman. I have no doubt that USA Surfing will benefit from his leadership and he will have a positive impact on the athletes and staff.”
– Dr. Christian Glasgow PhD, LMFT sports psychologist, working with Olympic, professional and collegiate athletes in the sports of surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, soccer, football and golf.
“I’m stoked to see Brandon in this leadership role. He understands that surfing is a lifestyle AND sport. He has the connections, energy and vision to bring new support to surfing’s future that also honors and celebrates its special past.” – Rob Machado
“Brandon is an exciting and innovative leader in the action sport industry. He has that perfect blend of business savvy, connections, authenticity and get-it-done power to succeed for the sport and its athletes.” – Mike Stewart, 9x world bodyboarding champion, innovator in board design, big-wave tow-in pioneer, “Mr. Pipeline”
“Brandon is such a respected leader and innovator in surf and action sports. There are so many talented up-and-coming surfers. I’m excited about what Brandon and USA Surfing can offer to help young surfers continue to progress and grow as people and athletes.” – Damien Hobgood
"Brandon has a supercharged network. He’s not a name dropper, but he works with some of the biggest names in the action sports, music, entertainment and corporate worlds. He has them excited about surfers, which will translate into greater influence and financial success. I’m stoked to see him take the lead at USA Surfing." – Kevin Zinger, entertainment industry executive, and documentary film producer
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