ESM Q & A With ESA’s All-Star Coach Jason Motes

September 20, 2021 • Competition, Eastern Surfing Association, ESA, Photos, The ESM Q&A

The ESM Q & A with Jason Motes By Jason Hoover:

“Jason’s enthusiasm for surfing and competing is what makes everyone love to be around with him.  His motto is that it’s all about the kids, which is his focus.  Jason has so much respect from everyone in the surf industry and the ESA is blessed to have the support of not only Jason, but his entire family, including Krissy, Josh and J.D.” – Michele Sommers / ESA Executive Director –

Jason Motes has been a competative machine for a couple of decades now. He’s also a surf dad, native Floridian, multi-time East Coast Champion, current Eastern Surfing Association ( ESA ) All Star coach and founder of the recently formed Motes Militia with ESA NFL district co- director and fiancee, Krissy Torelli. The “Militia’s” mission statement is to help aspiring young surfers get to the next level in their surfing and they couldn’t turn to a better, more seasoned comp vet then Coach Motes. We recently sat down with him at the Wave Riding Vehicles Outer Banks Pro to learn more about the winningest Eastern Surfing Association competitor ever and to catch up find out what’s next for the always energetic, surfing dynamo from Jax Beach, Florida. – Jason Hoover –

 Militia Man Jason Motes at the 2018 ESA East Coast Championships. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

ESM: How many ESA East Coast titles do you own?

Motes: 30 East Coast Championships.

Right here, right now. As we go to post this, Jason Motes ripping his was to a second place finish yesterday ( 09-19-2021 )  in the Senior Mens division at 2021 ESA championships. He hasn’t got to add to those 30 ESA titles he holds yet but we would not bet against it. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

ESM: We know Billy Curry has a shed full of divisional and Ironman titles is there anyone with more?

Motes: Bill probably has more IronMan Titles—I love that guy, he is one of my all time favorite surfers. No one to my knowledge has more East Coasts Championships than myself.

ESM: Any pro hardware on the mantel ?

Motes is not the type of coach to always just sit on the beach and critique his team, which he excels at, he’s also a leader by example both in the water and on the beach as well. Ya’ wanna know how to rack up some points? Hit the lip like this groms. PHOTO : @tomduganphotos

Motes: I won two Aqua East Pro AM’s that were held here in Jax Beach in the 90’s. But my best pro finish was a quarter final appearance in the Heritage Pro in New Jersey 1997.

ESM: You are a bona fide shredder free surfing but putting on a jersey and competing seems to be in your blood. What’s the motivation?

Motes: I just really enjoy competing. Most of the time, I’m a terrible free surfer (LOL) but when I put that jersey on, things just seem to come together.

Jason at 5 years old in 1977 at his first ever comp, the Jacksonville Mayors Cup. In true Motes fashion he took out first and hasn’t looked back since. Photo courtesy Motes

Motes: My fiancé Krissy keeps me from eating “Ice Cream” LOL –Other than that, I am blessed I am able to spend so much time in the water with my GROMS “the MOTES MILITIA” –they really keep me going.

No ice cream for you! The Dynamic Duo, Krissy Torelli and The Coach, under the All-Star tent at the 2021 ESA championships. The adage “behind every man is a good woman” definitely applies here. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

Motes: As a kid it was absolutely amazing sharing the water with my Pop. He was our ESA NFL director when I was a kid and that is when I really started loving surfing and competing. Then to have Josh with a passion for surfing, it’s been incredible to experience both sides of the equation (the son role and the father role).

Talk about an all star team. The surfing Clan Motes selfie, ( l-r ) with Jason, his son Josh and pop’s, JD – Jax Beach rippers all.

 ESM: With the resurgence of wave pools 2.0, have you ever or would you ever do a wave pool contest?

Motes: Heck Yea! Especially Kelly Slater’s wave pool.

No shortage of power with this guy no matter the equipment under those feet. Photo: Tom Dugan @tomduganphotos

ESM: Are you doing the new season of the ESA’s Talk Story? Yes, Michelle (ESA Executive Director) and I are discussing the details now.

ESM: Who’s on your dream guest list with maybe an 11-time world champ to kick it off?

Motes: Ha, I love it  Definitely Kelly, Dave Speir, Matt Kechele, my dad and my son –surfing cloud break for a week straight. And of course all of my Motes Militia Groms  They are too much fun to leave out.

You never know who you are going to run into. A Kelly Slater group selfie with his girl Kalani, their pup Action, Jason, Krissy Torelli and Josh Motes during one of the annual ESA All-Star training trips to the North Shore of Hawaii.

 ESM: Tell us about the Motes Militia?

Motes: So the Motes Militia was something I came up with for my advanced groms that I coach here Jax Beach. We surf and work with the kids and it’s a total blast doing it, the energy is so good and positive. You have to earn your spot by making it consistently through finals in our local ESA NFL district events or by winning some other big comp on the East Coast. We have so many kids getting so good so fast and it’s a joy to work with them along with my son Josh and my Pop ( former top East Coast competitor, JD Motes ). The pay off is I get to surf not only with all the groms but my family too. I had stickers and T-shirts made and the Groms and their parents are stoked on the program.

Jason ripping his way to another Senior Mens division title ( which he also won the previous year ) at the 2019 Eastern Association Championships at Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, NC. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

ESM: How many years have you now been the ESA All Star coach and anything new in the pipeline?

Motes: This Easterns® will be my 5th year as ESA All Stars coach and it has been absolutely incredible. A dream come true.

ESM: As the ESA All Stars coach, what are some of the things you try to impart to your kids both in the water and, more importantly, on land as human beings?

Motes with the 2018 ESA All-Star team at Easterns. “The ESA is proud to have Jason a part of its organization, and as our ESA All-Star Team coach.  He brought excitement back to the All-Star Team and created a thriving program that truly benefits those willing to put in the effort”. – Michelle Sommers / ESA Executive Director. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

Motes: The most important concept I try to teach it to HAVE FUN and enjoy this time of their lives. They are so young and grow up so fast, that I really want them to enjoy this time of building relationships together through surfing and competing. As far as on land, I want to teach them about “giving back” and helping others. Giving back is one of the most gratifying things in life. I think so anyway.  

ESM: How does it feel to be named a nominee for ECHOF recently?

Motes: I am still blown away with the nomination. I am so thankful to be in a list of many hero’s of mine.

Jason on the mic at the 2020 East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame induction where he and ESA Executive Director Michelle Sommers ( at right ) co-introduced the All-Star team for 2020. There is a very ( very ) close connection between the the 53 year old competition organization and the 25 years and going strong ECSHOF. All you have to do is gown down the list of inductees and nominees to see how many have surfed in, worked with or helped start the ESA and you will see just how deep those mutual roots go and intertwine. Like 4 World champs deep and an on Tour Caroline Marks looking like a possible 5th some day, all ESA standouts. Another prime example of this would be Motes recently being voted into the very selective, ECSHOF nominee pool for possible future induction. We say that is a when, not an if. Photo: Tom Dugan @tomduganphotos

Motes: I think there are many on this list that are much more deserving than I am, but I am truly honored to be placed with so many incredible surfers.

ESM: You work closely with ESA Executive Director Michelle Sommers on the All Star team as well as the Talk Story online series, any thoughts on that and the crew behind the curtain like Pam Hill, Joe and Lisa among many other hard working volunteers helping run the organization? It really does seem like a family affair at Regionals and Easterns® especially.

“Most of the time, I’m a terrible free surfer (LOL) but when I put that jersey on, things just seem to come together”. We beg to differ. Rocky Point ripping during the 2020 the annual ESA All-Star trip to the North Shore. If this is not full tilt schralping then we don’t know what is. Photo: Krissy Torelli

Motes: The “ESA Crew” defines true TEAMWORK. Michelle, Pam, Joe, Lisa and Krissy are the Dream Team of ESA insofar of how well we all work together and with all the killer regional support staffs up and down the coast. We all travel up the EastCoast for every big event – the three Regionals and the Easterns -and we have become a family.  I am grateful that I get to be a part of ESA’s team.

ESM: Anyone you’d like to thank for helping you on your path?

Besides being a competitor and Shepherd of the All-Stars and all that entails, Motes is the Swiss Army knife of the ESA and can be called on to enthusiastically assist at anytime when needed as ( deep breath ) the All-Star coach and chaperone, contest commentator / MC, hitting the bullhorn to help hand out winners trophies, beach marshall,  throwing scores as judge, helping to set up and break down an event site … did we leave anything out? Probably but it’s safe to say this legend wears a lot of hats and one of them should have “winner” emblazoned on the front. @mezapixelis

Motes: Oh gosh yes….I would like to thank my fiancé, Krissy, as she was the one who pushed me to start surfing again after I took an absence from surfing during my darkest days.  She was also the one who helped bring my family back into my life. I would also like to thank Michelle, Pam, and Lenny who went to bat for me to be the ESA’s AllStar coach. I would also like to thank my shaper Kenny Briel (Savage Surfboards) as he believed in me as a surfer and shaped my first board I rode on my “comeback path”.

If you draw this hombre in a heat your better bring your AAA game. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

ESM: What has surfing meant to you beyond just being a beloved sport?

Motes: Surfing is who I am. Surfing brings out the best in me and contributes to my ongoing growth in recovery.

Backwash bomb drop at the 2018 Southeast Regionals. Photo: Tom Dugan @tomduganphotos

 ESM: We know you really appreciate and know your East Coast surf history so, when you see ECSHOF legends like Ed Fawess from New York, Pete Pan from Rhode Island and Billy Curry – one of the winningest dudes ever in the ESA – from North Carolina still showing up at Regionals and Easterns well into their 60’s and ripping and wanting it bad, does that inspire you to keep donning a singlet and getting after it?

Motes: Oh absolutely!! These guys were doing Easterns® in the 70’s when I was a grom and to see them “getting after it” still today, is absolutely inspirational. I don’t want any of them in my heats!! HAHA!

Two old friends catching up, one who is already in the East Coast Hall Of Fame ( class of 2006 ) Tom Dugan, and the other recently added to the nominee pool no doubt awaiting his inevitable call up. Dugan observes: “When I moved to Florida in 1974, JD Motes was one of the stars out of Jacksonville along with Clay Bennett, Biddy Hunter and a few others. He would show up at the Canaveral Pier Easter Fest and just rip. Years later he had this kid that was starting to surf and we all took note. In the late 80’s I started working at Swell Magazine in Jax and I would go to the local events and shoot at there beaches when I was in town. I started seeing Jason and realized he was JD Mote’s son and, like his Dad, he ripped. Fast forward to the 2000 and his involvement with the ESA shot him into the spotlight and he’s now a huge influence in the operations of the ESA and all the Allstars. The ESA is so lucky to have someone with his knowledge and influence to be helping out and you can’t get his surf know how without walking the walk and Jason’s has gone beyond the extra mile, especially when it comes to mentoring the kids”.   –Tom Dugan – Photo: Mez @mezapixels

Tuning up at home during Hurricane Larry for the ESA’s upcoming 2021 East Coast Championship’s which is now underway ( watch the event live at www.surfesa.org and check wave by wave heat scores via Live Heats here https://liveheats.com/events/5926 ), September 19th at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, NC. Photo: Lisa Bachman