Nice man gives up dentistry and sells car to pursue WSL dream. And then disappears!
Earlier today, I interviewed the WSL’s Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure, Zach Brown from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Zach was crowned Stoke Ambassador amid much fanfare last November after an exhaustive worldwide search by the WSL where applicants were invited to submit a video CV.
Do you remember Zach? A likeable, goofy twenty-five-year old whose catch-cry was, “Hire me WSL and get me out of my mom’s house”?
If not, refresh here.
Like most, I presumed his job was to become the every-man face of the WSL during the Triple Crown events.
But then he just…disappeared.
“I don’t really know what to say about that,” says Zach. “A lot of people told me the same thing. Stab wanted an interview but never called me. The whole thing was built up so much. The WSL really pushed it on their website, their social channels, and then it didn’t get shown around that much.”
Perhaps the organisation was a little rattled by stories like this where Zach’s all-American ethnicity and gender might be thought tone deaf.
“I heard that a couple of times,” he says. “It’s hard to say. I’m a small-town kid who grew up in the Marshall Islands. My dad was the principal of a school there for six years. I took a year off during college to teach fifth grade on Pohnpei. When I heard stuff like, ‘Oh, privileged white male’ I didn’t realise the extend of internet bullying. The thing was, they could’ve picked a Brazilian, a guy with nothing, and people would’ve been, like, ‘You should’ve picked a girl!’ or they would’ve picked a girl and other people would’ve complained. Somebody is always going to be disappointed for whatever reason. Obviously, I submitted my video like everybody else. It was a bummer to hear that. I don’t feel any more privileged than anyone else. I actually had to sell my car to buy the camera to go out there.”
(Zach’s car was the formidable Nissan Xterra, which he loosed for $2700. He also quit his job at the ticket desk at Delta for the WSL gig.)
Zach says he thought his job was going to be “similar to Peter King’s TourNotes: behind-the-scenes interviewing the surfers, the raw feel of what’s going on. That’s what I envisioned. But they had a pretty curated day-to-day schedule, what they wanted me to do, events I was attending.”
These included playing golf at the Turtle Bay hotel, zip-lining, kayaking, staying at an Air B n B joint and a hotel in Waikiki.
“There was one time when I was in Waikiki during the Sunset competition and Sunny Garcia invited me to come and hang in the channel with him and be the caddy for Zeke Lau. I wasn’t able to make it time because I was on the other side of the island.”
Zach says the WSL’s intention was for him to push it on his own social channel (he currently has 6248 followers on @zacharyjdb. “Jesus, Drones and Oreos,” is his new catch-phrase) but says the WSL did interview him twice during the live contest feed and posted some of his stuff on Instagram and Facebook.
He says that while being ambassador didn’t exactly pan out how he wanted it to, he did get close to the broadcast crew and…epiphany… decided he wanted to pursue a life in film and not dentistry. (Zach has a degree in health sciences, step one in becoming a mouth mechanic.)
Today, Zach, is living in Clermont, Florida, thirty-five clicks west of Orlando, and an hour-and-a-half from his go-to surf spot, as he fulfils his dream of working in film and production for the YouTube channel of wake-skater Matt Manzari.