Tony Soriano – Stoked on Surfing
and Saving the Environment
One in a Series of Surfrider Member Stories
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If you want to find Surfrider Foundation Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter Chairperson Tony Soriano just look where the waves are breaking. Soriano has been surfing since he was 16 and is most at home on a surfboard.
Growing up in Southern California and summers with relatives in Hawaii, Soriano started going to the beach early, almost as long as he can remember. “I was always in the water,” he told SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel. “When we were kids, my parents use to fish a lot and my sister, brother and I always went along. The ocean was our life.”
Surfing is in Soriano’s DNA and he loves the challenge and the thrill of it. “Surfing isn’t a team sport. It’s you against nature,” he explained, naming favorite surfing locations from Hawaii to Florida, including local spots Bolsa Chica, Seal Beach and San Onofre.
And with his Gordie surfboard waxed and waiting – along with 22 other boards to choose from – Soriano is ready for any surf conditions.
Just about the only thing Soriano doesn’t like about surfing is the trash he sees in the water and on the beach. “When I first started surfing the water was blue and clear,” he said. “There used to be mussels we could eat right off the rocks."
"We used to pull crabs off the rocks and cook clams on the beach. Now the ocean is green and the mussels are gone. I want to get the ocean back to that clean look from when I grew up.”
This desire to clean up the environment is one of the reasons that Soriano joined the Surfrider Foundation. “I got involved with Surfrider nine years ago because of Mike Balchin, who told me about the organization and what they were doing.”
“I ended up being the fund-raising guy and helped put meetings together,” Soriano said.
“Then I became treasurer and later the chairperson.”
Balchin could see from the start the difference Soriano was making. “Tony never asks for any reimbursement for his countless hours volunteering, directing and promoting the H/SB Chapter to the outstanding condition it is today.”
Surfrider member Don MacLean seconds that. “The Chapter would not be a fraction of what it is today without the tireless efforts of Tony Soriano. I just can’t imagine our chapter without him.”
Nancy Hastings, Surfrider’s Southern California Regional Manager, praises Tony’s contributions, too. “Tony rebuilt the H/SB Chapter from the bottom up with his endless verve, enthusiasm, and Aloha! His sharp business sense has attracted numerous corporate donors, such as Wells Fargo and Kohls.”
With a degree in Business Administration from CSULB, Soriano is good at organizing and getting things done.It helps that he’s a real people-person, who knows just about everyone in the surfing community.
When SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti caught up with Soriano at the River’s End Café, in Seal Beach, his friends kept stopping to say “Hi” to him and surfing buddies wanted him to go surfing with them.
Soriano is a motivator, who likes to empower people. “I support everybody and put them in the right positions to make a difference. It’s me getting the group together and getting everyone to work to make changes and get initiatives passed.”
“Tony is amazing,” said Jeff Coffman, who heads up the Surfrider H/SB Chapter’s Blue Water Task Force. “He works hard and gets a lot done…and he does it with a smile on his face.”
Foam E-Z surfboard materials warehouse owner Brad Nadell added, “Tony is thoughtful. He always remembers to include me in events. He comes through in the clutch. He’s an all-around good guy.”
Soriano spends so much time as a volunteer for the Surfrider Foundation that it’s hard to realize that he actually has a separate career working in facility management services for the American Service Industries company.
This has him on the road a lot calling on corporations, colleges and universities, hospitals and healthcare facilities, and property management firms. Recognized as International Facility Management Association Orange County President, Soriano received the prestigious worldwide "Associate of the Year Award" in 2004.
Driving throughout SoCal visiting clients, Soriano sees beaches from San Diego to Ventura breeze past his windshield and has time to think about the importance of safeguarding them for the future. “Are we going to leave dirty beaches for our kids?” he asks.
Soriano’s answer is a definite “No.” He believes education is the key. “The way to protect the environment is to educate people about pollution problems and get them involved in fixing them.” From water run-off to plastics and trash, the public has to be made aware of the impact these have on our oceans and beaches.
So, Soriano is doing everything possible to help fulfill Surfrider’s mission of a pollution-free ocean and coastal environment – organizing beach cleanups...
speaking at community events, working with Surfrider volunteers, and reaching out to new members.
And, at the end of the day, he still makes time to catch some waves...
go fishing with his son Alex…
or enjoy the sunset over the water...
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