Gromz 2 Men

BY Alex Constantinou and Matt Corpening

Where are they now?

7 groms 8 years later


   Wrightsville Beach Magazine rounded up a group of groms short for grommets generally defined as skilled stoked young surfers who embraced and epitomized the label. Eight years later some members of the group have stuck around town while others diverged to different parts of the state country and globe. Some of the groms chose to focus on jobs school music or other sports. Some still surf and others have since applied their last bar of wax. As they branch out into the world it is their Wrightsville Beach roots that has each admitting hell forever be at heart a grom. 

by Matt Corpening


Jonathan Mincher


Jonathan Mincher left Wrightsville Beach in early July to surf Costa Rica.


JM: Right now Im just working at Two Wheeler Dealer you know stack up some cash and go somewhere. I typically like trying to do some sort of summer trip. My job kinda allows me to make money and then go spend it. I dont go to school right now. Really been skating skating a bunch. If Im not skating Im not happy. Skating keeps me happy if youre not happy youre blowing it.


WBM: Whats your relationship with surfing now?

JM: I was probably more into surfing competitively and I just dont care about that at all anymore. Im personally competitive and like freesurfing you know thats what I like to do – just spend the money and go travel somewhere rad. I mean I always want bigger and better but Im not gonna spend my money to enter an event to try to make money out of the event its not really my drive.


WBM: Where was the last place you went?

JM: Hawaii spent about three and a half months there this winter. Ill typically go spend a month or two in the wintertime. It gets slow here works slow I can get out. I go stay at the Volcom house on the north shore of Oahu directly in front of Pipeline.


WBM: How would you say growing up in Wrightsville Beach affected your current life and more specifically your future?

JM: Its just a rad spot to grow up. It keeps you traveling too though you know you can surf here; but it keeps you traveling a lot keeps you wanting other stuff you know? Future? I dont really feel like moving anywhere to call anywhere else home. I go to Hawaii but Im not moving there. Thats not my home; this is my home. So basically my future right now is just work and go surf when I can get the time off.


WBM: So you are literally working to surf?

JM: To do whatever! Go take a skate trip or go backpacking somewhere do something rad just travel in general. … I gotta go out of my comfort zone thats where I learn excel. Going somewhere and have to figure something out on your own be in a new place where youre not comfortable figure it out. Go somewhere with a different language different food. Using your passport just teaches you. Ill be locked down here soon enough might as well just keep moving for a little bit.


WBM: What do you want to say about growing up in WB?

JM: Knowing everybody just makes it a small community feel. I mean its pretty rad knowing everybody up and down the street but when you got in trouble everybody knows it you know what I mean? Definitely tight-knit. Being able to ride bikes everywhere is the raddest. I bike to work every day.                                                            

by Alex Constantinou


Nick Bland


Nick Bland will graduate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in December with a BFA in creative nonfiction.


NB: Im doing a lot of DJing in town and a few one-off parties out of town. I consistently DJ every Saturday at Red Dogs night club. I also DJ for the Permanent Vacation party crew and DJ Lord Walrus helps me to get a lot of gigs. 


WBM: Whats changed about your relationship with surfing since 2005?

NB: Surfing is still a huge passion in my life. I dont take it to the competitive level anymore just because it caused a lot of stress in my life and now it is purely for fun. Skateboarding has honestly surpassed my passion for surfing  although I still consider my surfing ability to be above that of my skating.

I just really have a lot of fun finding new skate spots and learning new lines much like surfing. I guess you could say I traded in the floaters for frontside grinds.


WBM: How would you say growing up in Wrightsville Beach affected your current life and more specifically your future?

NB: I have met some amazing people and had some amazing times not to mention visited some amazing places while always homeward bound to Wrightsville Beach. In the future I know the lifelong friends I have made here will always be there to help me along the way. Whether it be traveling business ties or just hanging out I love them to death.                                                                            

by Alex Constantinou


Mason Barnes


Now in Tahiti Mason Barnes is sponsored by Hurley and travels to surf California and Hawaii eight months out of the year.


MB: I just got back from Hawaii where I spent the entire winter surfing and videoing working on a short film. Its called Albino Summer. Its me and Logan Beam who I travel with. We drove cross-country two months before that and got some cool landscapes. Then contest-wise I have the US Open [of Surfing] at the end of the summer and thats all I really have planned for now. While Im at home since theres no waves Ive been just making clothes out of the back of The Annex [Surf Supply] and just kinda messing up T-shirts. I go in there on my free time just make clothes and then put them in the store and hopefully they sell. Its very unique everythings single one of a kind.


WBM: Whats your relationship with surfing now as compared to eight years ago?

MB: Still the same; still get just as excited to go surfing as I did when I was that age. When the waves are good here I get more. … Theres nothing that gets me more psyched. All I wanted to do was surf and travel and I guess now its more a part of my life like career-wise cause Im actually trying to do something with it. So theres a work aspect to it I guess. Thats the difference: a little bit more seriousness.


WBM: How would you say growing up in WB affected your current life and more specifically your future?

MB: When Im somewhere else people notice that the way people from North Carolina act is just so much more courteous than the average human but its just normal to us. People in Hawaii love people from North Carolina because its kinda the same country vibe over there and they love the Southern hospitality. [Hawaii] is pretty much a tropical version of us.


WBM: We interviewed you eight years ago. Eight years from now what would you like to be doing?

MB: Id like to be doing the same exact thing that Im doing right now which is the same thing I was doing eight years ago. I wouldnt really want my life to be any different its kinda perfect in my eyes I love it. Im very thankful. This is where I want to live nowhere else. Its my favorite place out of anywhere in the entire world.                                                                      

by Alex Constantinou


Chase Evans


Chase Evans suffered a few knee injuries that sidelined his surfing activity. Now he studies filmmaking at Cape Fear Community College.


CE: Back then I could surf every single day. Now it has to be super good for me to get the urge to go. I feel like its more fun now because I do it less. When I do get out I cherish it more and its more exciting.


WBM: How has growing up at WB affected your current life and maybe your future life?

CE: I kind of look at Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach as a super small town everyone knows each other and will know each other. Everyone keeps the same friends for a long time. If I hadnt grown up here I dont know what Id be doing. Id be a way different person if I didnt grow up here.


WBM: And you wouldnt be surfing either.

CE: Probably not no.                                   

by Matt Corpening


Ben Rose


When interviewed by WBM in 2005 Ben Rose said: “I love it when the waves are good there are hot girls on the beach and it’s nice and sunny outside.”


BR: I said that? [laughs] Thats awesome.


WBM: Since then what has changed if anything and what are you up to now?

BR: Oh man. Its a drastic change actually. Im working at a local record store Gravity Records. I really dont even surf anymore. I play in a band called Free Clinic.


WBM: What instrument do you play?

BR: I actually sing and play the guitar. Im living with my drummer downtown. Were working on an album right now. Hopefully well have that done by August or September. Its just a drastic change like Im not going to school at the moment to really be able to focus on music.


WBM: How did growing up in Wrightsville Beach affect your current life and maybe your future life too?

BR: Well Im very thankful. I was born in Winston-Salem and we moved when I was six years old. It was just like living in paradise for the first couple years you know? I dont know. It was awesome growing up at the beach. Spoiled rotten thats probably what I got out of it.


WBM: Do you think you would have surfed if you had grown up in Winston-Salem?

BR: Absolutely not. Theres no water.


WBM: When we interview you in eight years what will you have to say?

BR: Hopefully you will have heard of my band by then [laughs] thats probably not the case. But that would be what I would hope.         

by Matt Corpening


Dylan Kowalski


Dylan Kowalski will compete in a few more junior pro contests including the east coast surfing championships until he ages out of the division when he turns 20 in October.


DK: I still love surfing but I obviously cant do it my whole life and support myself from it. Ill always surf but Im gonna have to you know find something else. I guess starting college is a good first step.


WBM: How do you think being around WB as a young kid influenced your interest in surfing?

DK: Pretty much right when I moved here I didnt even know there was an ocean or anything. I wasnt expecting to get into surfing but my father was a surfer so he kinda wanted me to get in the water and whatnot kinda started me there and kinda just grew off my other friends like the other guys from the original [2005] story. We all grew up together surfed together you know pushed each other. I guess there was a little rivalry you know but a good healthy rivalry.


WBM: What do you want to say concerning your relationship with surfing now as compared to then?

DK: Its really hard to make a career out of surfing. You have to be one of the top guys. Definitely my views have changed. Then yeah I wanted to be a pro surfer but now its kinda more.


WBM: Eight years from now how would you expect this interview to go or what do you expect to be doing?

DK: I expect to at least have a degree not quite sure yet. Maybe Ill go into marketing or maybe the film industry but at least be graduated from college. Im still having fun right now but I know I need to buckle down. I dont know if Ill still be in Wilmington but well see.


WBM: Wrightsville Beach is a pretty close-knit community growing up here you know everybody. Do you think that had any effect on you?

DK: If anything everything from WB has been a positive influence on me as far as who I am and surfing and yeah you do pretty much know everyone in town. And everyone has helped me in some way or another from tips to [surf] leashes you know just every little thing helped me become the surfer I am right now. Its all because of Wrightsville I started surfing here you know. I wouldnt want to grow up anywhere else. Ive lived in Hawaii and California but I still like Wrightsville the best. Obviously the waves arent the best but you know I love the people the whole community everyone knows each other. I definitely call this place home.                 

by Alex Constantinou


Jack Brandon


Jack Brandon returned from a month in San Clemente California in early July. He says not a lot has changed since he was featured in WBM in 2005.


JB: Im hanging out still and go surfing. I still love it just as much as I did then maybe more.


WBM: How would you say growing up at Wrightsville Beach nurtured your surfing and kind of your current life?

JB: Wrightsville Beach is a good-place-to-grow-up beach. There is good surf but its still a learner-friendly place. You can progress from when it isnt good to when it is good. And I think it helped me surfing with a lot of people I knew because everyones going to see what youre doing.                           

by Matt Corpening