Meet Your Instructors:
Kevin is a certified North Carolina Elementary and Physical Education Teacher. Kevin’s passion is all things ocean. From the science of a wave, to the animals, to conservation, Kevin is wealth of information- just ask him! Kevin grew up on the Finger Lakes in NY where he spent as much time as he could in the water wake boarding, life guarding, and was a champion swimmer. He graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a degree in physical education. As an elementary school teacher at St. Marys in Wilmington, it’s only natural that he spend his summer break teaching surf lessons! Kevin is often heard saying that he loves surfing, but there is no greater feeling than helping someone else catch their first wave, which makes him such a great instructor. A combination of skill and patience, Kevin is sure to get ANYONE riding a wave! He is an avid supporter of Sea Shepherd, a die-hard Notre Dame fan, and the head stand master (only on a surf board though). When Kevin isn’t on the beach, he loves spending time with his two furry friends, Koa and Hogan. You can often find him skateboarding through the neighborhood streets of Carolina Beach, with one of the two of them towing him!
Kevin is also one of the pioneers of the non-profit, Ocean Cure. Going back to his determination of assisting others to surf, Ocean Cure helps those with disabilities through surfing. They also focus on giving back to the ocean by helping to protect and clean our beaches.
Chris LaCoe Owner / Surf and SUP Instructor
Chris grew up in rural NC. About an hour west of the Wilmington area. His parents always took family vacations to the beach and his father was a surfer during the late 60′s and early 70′s. Those early childhood memories along with swimming in a pool all day during the summers, sparked his love for the water. No matter where or how he was around it. As he grew older he knew the beach was the place he was supposed to be. After college Chris started working with a local NC based restaurant chain Andy’s, now know as Hwy55. That is what moved him to the Wilmington area. In 2007 Chris was introduced to Kevin through a mutual acquaintance. They had discussed the idea of opening a surf school together and before you know it the company was underway. The 6 years since then have had its ups and down. The business has flourished and along the way started a nonprofit, Ocean Cure. When you get to do something you enjoy it’s not work at all….it’s just plan fun!!! Especially when it’s on or in the water.
Brandon Bonnette Surf and SUP Instructor
Brandon came to the South Eastern NC coast in 2004 for college at UNCW and since then, he hasn’t figured out how to leave. His life has always been about water, growing up he was a competitive swimmer. When he was old enough he became a lifeguard. Once he found himself in Wilmington and on the coast, it was only natural that he picked up a surfboard. Always curious about surfboards he started to make his own, and after many shapes, he still finds there’s nothing cooler than riding what you create.
Matt, a native to eastern North Carolina, has been in and around the ocean his entire life. He has been an avid surfer for 14 years. He graduated from UNCW in 2010 with a B.A. in Film Studies, and a B.S in Marketing; Matt was introduced to Ocean Cure after being hired to film there first feature documentary in 2009 “Surfing Through Barriers”. Since then he has worked on several promotional videos for both Odysea Surf School and Ocean Cure. Matt has been an instructor for the Odysea Surf School since 2010 and looks forward to another great season.
Ben is a professor at Cape Fear Community College. Ben has 8 years of teaching business and freshmen orientation classes. Before that Ben was a banker. Ben bring a tremendous amount to Odysea. He is a Kure Beach resident and can be found surfing every single day. Literally every day! Ben is one of the most committed instructors we have. This year he will attempt to break the world record for the longest continuous surf session ever. In 2013 Ben surfed for an incredible 435 straight days to raise awareness and support for Ocean Cure!!!
Surf Instructor/ Expert Paddleboard Instructor
Jim is a certified North Carolina School Teacher. Jim teaches 4th grade at Mar C. Williams public elementary school in New Hanover County. Jim has been with Odysea for 5 years now. He is a wonderful teacher with all ages. Jim specializes in paddle board instruction. He can often be found doing 20 mile plus down winder journeys. Jim has a heart of gold and loves introducing the love of surfing and paddle boarding to people for the first time.
Micah Tootoo Surf Instructor
Micah Tootoo is a 21 year old Wilmington native who spends his summers at the beach and his winters getting barreled in Raleigh, NC. There’s not many things that Micah loves more than surfing. This summer will mark his 7th year working with the Odysea Surf School Crew and he is excited about teaching you to surf!!! Believe it or not Micah was the North Carolina Cosmopolitan Bachelor of the year! Ladies feel free to call and request a lesson with Micah.
Brian is a certified North Carolina Teacher. He has 10 years of teaching experience in the public schools. Brian specializes in 3-5th grade instruction. He is currently a teacher at Lake Forest Academy. Brian has been with Odysea since its inception. He brings a love of the ocean and the sport. Brian has also moved into shaping surfboards. He has completed 5 custom boards. Brian is usually the first person to arrive at the office each morning and comes with a great enthusiasm that makes him one of our best instructors.
Beca has been with Odysea for 3 years now. She is a teacher assistant in Carolina Beach. Beca is also an amazing artist creating beach art from reclaimed wood. She has an amazing attitude every day and truly loves surfing, the ocean, the environment and making people smile. Beca has been a dedicated volunteer for Ocean Cure for 4 years and continues to inspire.
Byron is certified North Carolina Teacher. He currently teaches Social Studies at Murray Middle School in New Hanover County. He has been teaching for 13 years. Byron lives in Carolina Beach and is graduate of East Carolina University. Byron came to us last year with a desire to share the love of surfing with others. He had an insatiable attitude and dedication to his work. Byron has been an excellent addition to Odysea and we look forward to years of teaching with him.Kerri Cunningham Surf Instructor
Kerri is a certified North Carolina School Teacher. She currently teaches Math at Murray Middle School in New Hanover County. Kerri has been teaching for 15 years. She lives in Kure Beach and spends almost all of her time on the beach. Kerri is also a world traveler searching for that perfect wave. Kerri was new to Odysea last year but certainly left her mark. She clearly loved teaching children and watching them catch their first wave was her inspiration. Kerri has a wonderful attitude and spirit each day. She is also an expert yogi even cranking out some crazy arial yoga.Ryan Rice Surf Instructor/ Kiteboard Instructor/ Paddleboard Instructor
Ryan has been with Odysea for 4 years now. He is an unbelievable waterman. Ryan covers all of the board sports and is an expert free diver and scuba diver. Ryan can take you on a journey you will never forget. Ryan brings excitement to Odysea like we never thought before.Jenn Rollins Surf Instructor
Jenn Rollins wants to be a mermaid when she grows up! She absolutely loves the ocean and all things in it. She attended UNCW and majored in marine biology. She has worked with all sorts of sea creatures around the world ranging from the fish at the Fort Fisher aquarium, the sea turtles in the Topsail rehabilitation hospital, and dolphins at Dolphin Quest Oahu and Discovery Cove in Florida. She is an avid SCUBA diver, surfer, body boarder, beachcomber, and sand castle builder.
Other qualifications include certified life guard and registered nurse.
Jill Kraz Surf Instructor
Aloha! My name is Jill, I’m going to spare you all the stuttering with my last name and stick with, Kraz. I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, so surfing was merely a dream of waves after a hurricane. It wasn’t until I moved south and enrolled at UNCW that I picked up a board. The last couple of years have been a learning process. Upon graduating, I packed up a suitcase, skateboard, and sunnies and jetted off to the pacific on search of adventure. First Hawaii, then Samoa, and finally New Zealand, which I set up camp for a year. There, I blended into the Kiwi culture and found work as a personal trainer and an elementary school Red Cross Instructor. Not long after my visa expired, I returned to Wilmington, the land of endless sunshine and outdoor activities. Even thought traveling is a thrill, it’s feels great to be back! If there were one thing I’ve learned while wandering, it would be to share. Share what you know, what you see, share your experiences, and most importantly, what you have. This is exactly the reason why I got involved with Ocean Cure. I figured what better way than to teach what I am most passionate about? And who could complain when you are in the ocean?
Scott Taylor is an Eastern North Carolina native. Having been raised along the shores of the Crystal Coast, Scott began his love affair with the ocean as a child. He has been surfing for more than 25 years, and as his passion for surfing grew so did his dedication to the environment. Scott has used his life experience as a waterman and woodworker to create a unique line of eco-friendly wave riding vehicles known as Engrain Surfboards. He is actively involved with several local organizations who share the same vision which is what brings him to Odysea.
Surf Instructor / Videographer