He rode his bike to the East Coast Surfing Championships as a teen; now he’s the chairman
- August 12, 2017
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Lee Belote | For The Virginian-PilotCharlie Pitts is chair for the Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships. He’s pictured here on the Oceanfront at 68th Street.
When Charlie Pitts was a student at Virginia Beach Junior High School, he would ride his bike from his Red Wing neighborhood to the East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC).
“It was a fun thing to do as a teenager. It was a big crowd, music and a lot going on,” said Pitts. “I loved the freebies from vendors, the energy of the event and the girls in the bikinis.”
Now 37, he is the chairman of the 55th annual Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships. The major professional and amateur event for the United States Surfing Federation attracts several hundred surfers and thousands of spectators. It also offers swimsuit contests, volleyball, flag football and live music.
Pitts was originally introduced to ECSC volunteer opportunities through a roommate. He was recently divorced and was looking for opportunities to meet people.
“I could sit home and play video games or try to meet people,” said Pitts. “I volunteered to branch out but also because ECSC was one of the coolest events. I wanted to be a part of it.”
Pitts has been volunteering since 2011 in many roles, including operations and chairman in 2014. The Virginia Beach Jaycees, a community service volunteer organization, hosts ECSC and raises funds through the event to support programs in the community such as Camp Grom, a Christmas Shopping Tour and Special Olympics.
Pitts said to make sure and check out the new “I Heart Pool Party,” which has an in ground pool on 4th street featuring a mermaid for photo-ops. He added a few other highlights: the free showing of “Endless Summer,” an iconic surf movie; the motor cross bike exhibition; and the Miss ECSC Swimsuit Pageant.
His favorite part is giving back to the community.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “But it’s still one of the coolest things you can do in Virginia Beach.”
What do you enjoy most about being ECSC chairman? The challenge! I did it to prove to myself, that I can, again.
What is the greatest challenge being ECSC chairman? The schedule. This is an all-volunteer event. I’m busy at work and home. ECSC is something I do on my personal time. Sometimes meetings are necessary at the last minute, sponsors need attention, and there’s a lot that happens in my company’s prime season. It goes back to the last question, rising to the challenge.
What do you love most about the people you work/volunteer with? Hands down, it’s the camaraderie. We bicker constantly, but when you spend a week bleeding in the sand together, you know how tight the friendships are. We would all go to the mat for each other.
What inspires you to do what you do? It just seems like the right thing to do. The money we earn at ECSC goes straight to the VB Jaycees Charities to benefit local people in need. We give Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas presents. We work to clean Rudee Inlet and support the Survivors of Suicide.
Who or what in your background best prepared you for doing what you do? My dad and scouting. You do what you say you’ll do, or what good are you?
Favorite movie(s): Hardest question, so far! I think the Christian Bale, Batman series. Admittedly, “Dark Knight Rises” was a little underwhelming. The characters were well done, and the action was excellent.
Pet peeve: Chargers that break!!
Hobbies: I’m an outdoorsman. Life often gets in the way. I like to camp, hunt and fish. My wife is becoming a backpacker and hiker herself. Look out from a peak, or down on a waterfall. You’ll understand, this is something only God could create.
Best/worst job: Worst was working retail at Lynnhaven Mall. That was a long time ago. Best was driving a limo. It was a 16-passenger, which made it a bus, so it required a commercial driver’s license, which I have. I could tell you some stories. If you use your imagination, you’ll get close enough. It was fun to watch people have too much fun.
Favorite Virginia Beach spot: Baja Cantina has $3 lobster tacos on Wednesday. Great place for a mid-week date! Guys, take your wife/girlfriends on dates as often as possible!
Favorite local band? Krunch
What’s your favorite ECSC memory? Probably my first one as a Jaycee. I was working with security. There were a lot of 16- to 18-year-old kids crowd surfing at the headline concert on Saturday. They’d end up over the first row of security fence, and we’d grab them and drag them out. We made every one look like they were going straight to jail without passing go! Of course, we just pulled them to the side and told them not to do it again, and they went to the back of the crowd. None of them did it again. They weren’t bad kids.
Favorite ECSC event? I always liked the action sports. BMX, skateboard and motocross are fun to watch! Also, the Junior Pro surfers. Those kids can really tear it up, even on small waves!