Cudgen Mentor Celebrates 20 Years

The 2016 Stramit NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships were the 20th consecutive Country event for Cudgen Headland SLSC Youth Coach Phil Klein.

Coach Phil as his charges affectionately call him like many parents was drawn to lifesaving through his children’s involvement in Nippers.

His children are still very much involved in the ocean. Son Dylan contested the Open Water events at the Country Champs, while daughter Codie is competing on the World Qualifying Surfing Series, and has won multiple medals over the years including at the Australian Titles.

After completing his Bronze Medallion the planets were aligned as the previous club coach was nearing retirement. He put his hand up, and the rest as they say was history.

He now coaches children aged 8-14 and takes pleasure in passing on skills to kids that will not only help them become better competitors, but also help them stay safe in the surf.

“I absolutely love coaching it’s such a rewarding activity. It also has the added bonus of helping keep myself fit as well as I’m out there paddling every day with the kids. It’s great to be able to do something and give back to the club and community,” Phil Klein said.

“I’ve seen and coached a few generations. Kingscliff is a small town so you always run into the kids who have grown up and they’re always happy to come and have a chat. You see the parents often as well, and I’ve made a lot of friends over the years.”

Aside from his coaching, Phil still competes when gets the chance though he didn’t take to the water this year. Whenever he races his pupils can often be heard shouting encouragement to their mentor, which he grins, means there can be a little pressure!

He is very proud of the reputation that Cudgen Headland has built in recent seasons, and sees maintaining and enhancing it further as a key part of the club’s future success.

“I think part of the reason why we have enjoyed so much success is we have a fantastic coaching program. Most of our juniors do go on to our seniors who have a very good coach.

"There’s plenty of healthy competition in the Far North Coast which is great, but also a lot of solid friendships made as well,” Klein said.

“While it’s nice to win medals at the end of the day it’s about the skills you learn and the friends you make.”

He also has an important safety message that he wants to reaffirm to all parents.

“I think that if you live on the coast it is that essential that all kids learn how to handle the ocean.

“If you enrol them in Nippers and swimming school when they’re young then by the time they get to 11 or 12 you can feel confident that they can handle themselves in the surf, and as a parent it is an important thing to know that they’re safe.”

Wed 10 Feb 2016