There have been many new things I’ve seen since the Midwest has become a part of my life - an Amish woman leading a camel past a corn maze; a thunderous world series parade; the experience of an Indiana family fully embracing their wild new son in law - and much more that I couldn’t have guessed if you gave me 100 tries. My name is Brendan Heffernan, and I’m the new Store Manager at Third Coast Surf Shop.
Growing up in the south bay of Los Angeles, surf was engrained into my life from an early age. Different names of spots were known by surfers and non-surfers alike. Crowds gathered when we’d have a big Wednesday swell. You knew which guys to ask questions about surfing to, and which guys not to. I wasn’t one of those kids who’s got photos of themselves on a board in a diaper; I started surfing regularly after a few summers of getting pushed into waves by my Dad and then a warm water trip to Costa Rica where I paddled in and popped up unassisted, and from there, I was hooked. Surfing filled all the nooks and crannies of my life that weren’t filled already. High school is where I really locked into surfing: tracking swell in class, checking the tides every 5 minutes as if the chart had changed in that time, hoping high tide would be after the sun went down, not right when I got out of class.
Once I was able to drive, get myself back and forth from the water, and take trips to surf, my love for surf gear and having my set-up dialed in thrived. You don’t want to find yourself 6 hours from home with no cell reception realizing the fins you’ve got are too big for your board or your fin screw is missing. During high school is when the adventure element to surfing became available. I wasn’t stuck at the local beach break for hours waiting for a sunset glass off. Instead, my friends and I could book campsites up north, drive down south, and surf waves we weren’t able to handle in the past.
ET Surf in Hermosa Beach is the shop I can attribute much of what I’ve learned about surf gear, besides what my brother and first mate had gifted to me. ET had a classic surf/skate/snow shop that carried everything you needed, and an impressive upstairs shortboard room with a quiver of every shape you could imagine; the chippiest shortboards and steeziest retro fishes. But, next door was where the true desires of my heart sat.
Just Longboards, ET’s longboard shop, was to me what a Ferrari showroom is to the hundreds of entitled transplant finance bro’s living just down the street from it. Rows and rows of polished single fin, triple stringer, square tail logs. D fin tanks hanging from the ceiling. Contraband Crème boards. Fins I could only dream of putting to their full potential. All in one space. There were guys who lived in my neighborhood that rode these boards truly how they were meant to be ridden, drop knee’d and perched. I know logging didn’t originate from this shop but if there was a surfing nuclear fall out, this would be ground zero for repopulating the ocean with style.
I have to give mention to my brother attending Point Loma Naz in San Diego and exposing me to the world of Captain Fin Co. Captain Fin, founded by Mitch Abshire, and all the guys who rode for them, showed me you could throw your arms around, lay into cutbacks, and stick a noseride longer than I ever thought possible. Guys like JJ Wessels, Mason Dyer, Scotty Stopnick, and Al Knost were the oracles to my surfing Delphi.
Later, I went on to attend Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago for 5 years, where I received my Bachelors and Masters degrees. It was tough initially, not being by the ocean, and lake surfing being something I had only heard of - but it felt so out of reach. When I’d go home on breaks I’d surf as much as I could, including early mornings on the way to the airport headed back to Chi-beria.
College was when I met the love of my life, Katie (who’s from northern Indiana) and the Midwest began to become alive and real to me. Spending time with her family (at corn mazes, with Amish women leading camels) & going to cubs games (leading to a world series parade), I realized how different growing up in southern California was than growing up in the Midwest. Yet, I felt fully embraced and loved by my wife’s family and similarly grew out of a belief that none can compare to SoCal. I saw how unique and special the cultures around Lake Michigan are; farmers, Supper Club regulars, salty fisherman on freshwater, and boardriders of various kinds.
For the last four years, I’ve been living in San Diego working as a Youth Pastor, where I got the incredible privilege to invest in the lives of middle school and high school students, and tell them about the Love of God. Much of that time was spent in the water surfing or at the skatepark. In so many ways, it was such a radical blend of my passions and taught me tons about outfitting students with the right suits, boards, decks - and more importantly - tools for life.
In April of 2022, my wife and I felt it was time to move closer to her family. So here I am today, a Southern California kid married to a Midwest girl, managing a surf shop on Lake Michigan. I’m so excited to serve the great lakes surf community with the gear knowledge I have and the surf experience I’ve built up over the years. I may be even more excited to learn, and be a part of, a place that has become so special to me.
See you in the water, or in the shop!