Skip to content
Topics
Stories

Where summer is always in "session"

Denise Garcia with a surfboard

When Ryan McGill wants to clear his mind, he’ll mount his surf­board and ride some waves.

Over the past 20 years, McGill, DMSB’04, has surfed many of the world’s most pic­turesque beaches, looking for the per­fect breaks and swells. One of his favorite surfing spots is Lagundri Beach on Nias Island in Indonesia, where, he says, “the waves are so flaw­less, so mechanical.”

There is no other feeling in the world that can com­pare to surfing,” says McGill, who grew up playing tennis, soccer, and bas­ket­ball, but ulti­mately found his ath­letic calling in the deep blue. “When I’m out on the ocean, I’m totally relaxed.”

His most fre­quent des­ti­na­tion is Jen­ness Beach in Rye, New Hamp­shire, where he co-​​founded the Summer Ses­sions Surf Shop in 2002 with his younger brother Tyler. The family-​​owned and oper­ated shop boasts an impres­sive selec­tion of boards, wet­suits, and gear, and offers surf lessons to kids and adults.

Since the shop’s incep­tion some 12 years ago, McGill esti­mates that he and his staff have helped more than 1,000 stu­dents find the joy in surfing. One of those stu­dents is Denise Garcia, the Sadeleer Research Fac­ulty Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Polit­ical Sci­ence and Inter­na­tional Affairs at North­eastern University.

Garcia started surfing in the spring of 2013, when her sister signed her up for a lesson at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Aus­tralia, the inter­na­tional mecca for surfing, swim­ming, and sun­bathing. A few months later, her friend intro­duced her to Summer Ses­sions, where she is cur­rently taking up to four lessons per week.

Surfing makes me feel like I’m flying,” says Garcia, who finds her new favorite sport to be relaxing, even reju­ve­nating.  “It’s very calming and has helped me focus on the mounting aca­d­emic oblig­a­tions I have all over the world.”

For her, Jen­ness Beach is the per­fect training ground for the fledg­ling surfer and McGill is the quin­tes­sen­tial entre­pre­neur, a cre­ative, yet customer-​​centric busi­nessman. McGill, for his part, says he honed his busi­ness acumen at North­eastern, where he studied finance and learned the ins and outs of the sales pitch.

In 2003, he was working on co-​​op as a broker’s assis­tant at A.G. Edwards, a finan­cial ser­vices holding com­pany that was later acquired by Wells Fargo Advisers. His daily duties included making up to 300 cold calls per day, a respon­si­bility that has played no small part in preparing him for his job at the shop. “If I could handle making hun­dreds of cold calls every day,” he says, “I could handle selling surf­boards to excited kids.”

Today, Summer Ses­sions is one of the largest surf shop in New Hampshire’s Sea­coast Region, and the McGills have con­tinued to build their brand and expand their entre­pre­neurial reach. After years of plan­ning, Ryan and Tyler have ven­tured into the restau­rant busi­ness, opening up The Juicebox, a high-​​end juice, smoothie, and coffee bar in North Hampton.

I’m lucky to work with my brother,” says McGill, whose typ­ical 12-​​hour days at the shop tend to fly by when he’s having fun with Tyler, his employees, and their cus­tomers. “We have our normal, broth­erly quar­rels, but within five min­utes one of us is saying, ‘Hey, want to go surf?’”

More Stories

Photo of the Capitol Building at night

High stakes for politics, SCOTUS in 2018

01.04.2018
Photo of the crashed truck that was used in the October 31st attack in Manhattan.

Weaponizing Language: How the meaning of “allahu akbar” has been distorted

11.08.2017
Northeastern logo

Why I love studying Spanish

05.29.20
Uncategorized