This isn’t a story bashing the idea of leaving your small-townsurf club for the glitter strip (GC) or honey toast (Sunny Coast) in QLD.
Because in the words of Redhead coach Isaak Costello, to leave your home and chase your dream takes guts and its harder than it seems.
But it is a story about a guy who didn’t leave; he stayed at his home club, raced hard, made mistakes, helped grow a culture and almost a decade later is reaping the rewards.
Love them or hate them, there’s something about Redhead;the people, the club, and the community – Costello explains the philosophy that’s made the Blue and Gold such as force.
“As a kid, What do you join a surfclub for?” he asks.
“It’s friends and fun…. it’s about in 60yrs time having a few beers on a Sunday at the club talking about the races you’ve won with your mates.”
“I fully respect anyone who goes up there and chases the dream because it isn’t easy, but for me, I am a clubman. I love seeing people go all the way through to create a culture in a club and stick too it.”
And who can argue with that.
Redhead has always had champions; 4x Australian Board Race Champion Stewart McLaughlin, Australian Ski Race Champ Pete Scott & Current Ironman giant killer Dan Collins just to name a few. But the 28-year-old former ironman turned coach of the Hunter superclub has quickly turned Redhead into one a breeding ground for the best up and comers in the sport.
Over the last three summers under Costello, Redhead has brought home 7 gold and 8 minor medals in the surf events at the Youth Aussies, not to mention some major results in the open arena, including a Bronze in the Ski Relay and a podium for Justin McMorland in the board race.
But Costello is refusing to take any credit.
“I take my hat off to the guys who did it before me, because they not only showed me what we should be doing, but I think having that sort of culture at Redhead Surf Club has helped shaped me as a coach.”
The man who finished 3rd in the Shaw and Partners Summer of Surf Swim Series in 2023, Dan Collins agrees.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some incredible role models in the club and I hope that I’m able to provide a similar level of leadership that was offered to me. The culture and support in Redhead is second to none,” said Collins
Talking to the redhead pair, you get the sense it’s more aboutthe people than the placings. A philosophy many promote but struggle to fulfil.
“As a coach, you should probably just be a coach, but that’s the opposite of what we do at Redhead, we’ve all got a really good relationship and its more about being mates, not so much the coaching thing,” he said.
Leader of the Redhead next gen Lani Waller believes it’s the secret to their success.
“it’s like one big family where everyone is your mate, not just your training partner. There are so many champions in the club who are willing to share their advice and guidance along the way,” she said.
After finishing third in the u17 Ironwoman series under Costello’s guidance, Waller says it’s their partnership that’s been key.
“Isaak is such a passionate coach who believes in all of us; our dreams and goals are his as well. He is pushing us to be our best and guiding our growing squad to the next level.”
While it’s not the priority, more and more athletes in Redheadcaps are standing on the podium, and Collins says they’re loving it.
“We’ve been trying to keep the ball rolling and foster a positive culture off the back of so much junior success. I love the fact we are a small country town club and we can take it to the biggest clubs in the sport built off purely hard work.”
And as he always manages to do, the man in charge simplifies the drive behind the small-town juggernaut.
“The end goal is not to have anyone leave the club, not just to Queensland but from the club and sport, to have the resources to cater for the people who want to be at the top of their game and that’s what drives us, to be competitive with the top clubs is the country.”
And they’re certainly doing that.