OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) Alumni Association awarded its first-ever college scholarship to Surf Rescue Technician (SRT) Anthony Handle last month.
At the OCBP’s regular meeting at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, Sean Williams and Lt. Ward Kovacs were on hand to represent the OCBP Alumni Association in awarding the check.
The judging committee received many entries for the scholarship challenge. When they had finished their deliberations, the decision was unanimous. Handle is a first-year guard who is now attending Towson University. He is majoring in Athletic Training and joined the OCBP this summer calling it “one of the best decisions I have made in my life.”
In his essay, Handle wrote, “I knew this job would benefit me and provide me with new experiences, but I had no idea how significant of an impact it would have on my lifestyle and my work ethic.”
Through a summer of rough surf and rescues, he came away with a valuable lesson about college and life. “Nothing ever goes quite the way we expect it to, but through our preparation and our ability to adapt to situations we can be successful no matter what the scenario,” he said.
During the presentation, OCBP Captain Butch Arbin shared that Williams had been a guard for 10 summers (between 1983 to 1993), the last three of those years serving as a lieutenant. His father, Warren Williams, had been a legend on the patrol before him having served from 1963-2003 and is the namesake of the crew competitions that take place at the end of every summer. Now a well-respected chiropractor in West Ocean City, Williams talked to the current guards about how the men and women who sat in those stands before them, view the OCBP as a family, and that they are all our “younger brothers and sisters”.
Kovacs had helped organize and publicize the scholarship challenge. In addition, Kovacs has been responsible for structuring the OCBP Alumni organization all while being a full-time member of beach patrol.
The OCBP Alumni Association Scholarship Challenge was founded this year as a way for older guards, who have long known the life-long value of their experience on the beach, to help newer guards with some of the financial burden of college. The award is a one-time $500 gift. The student may use for books, fees or related costs. Everyone who joins the beach patrol is trained to endure the physical pressures of the job, but the challenge was designed to push those who accepted on a more scholarly level. The question asked of the applicants was “How has the OCBP prepared you for college?”, and all who entered had 500 words to explain the lessons they had learned sitting in the stand, making rescues and representing the town of Ocean City.
Before presenting the scholarship award, Williams went on to introduce the alumni association. Former guards John Jarvis, “Lucky” Jordan and Bob Wagner had worked to establish an organization that could be in charge of reunions and other social events. Over the last year, that organization has taken on the mission statement established by Jarvis, “to promote the Beach Patrol lifestyle”.
The goal is to keep and remember the past and to promote the future. The scholarship was designed as the first step in promoting the future. Among the projects underway are the creation of an OCBP Hall of Fame to be housed at beach patrol headquarters and profile articles on “Alumni of the Week” featured this summer in The Dispatch.