GROM SPOTLIGHT | Adam Bartlett

The life cycle of a tadpole

By Neal Kearney


photo luis rodriguez

As a tadpole begins to sprout limbs and venture around its aquatic environment, it finds itself in a hostile habitat. The maturing amphibian will spend these formative days dodging hungry predators who would love to gobble it up before it gets its first breath of oxygen.

Adam Bartlett, aka “Tadpole,” is an 11-year-old Westside ripper whose own personal pond, Steamer Lane, has churned out countless talents with its hyper-competitive crowd and serious surf. Much like his amphibious namesake, Bartlett is still growing and learning the ropes, yet he has been thriving all the same in an ecosystem known for its perils.

It helps that he spawned from folks who know their way around a wave: His pops, Osh “Frog” Bartlett, is a former Mavericks’ standout and current Oakley representative, and his mom, Shana, is a talented surfer herself. “I like how my dad charges big waves, and it is really fun to surf Middle Peak lefts with him,” says Bartlett, who caught his first solo wave at the wee age of 3. “He pushes me to surf to the best of my ability. I don’t need a coach because I have him. It’s also really cool to have a mom that surfs; I love surfing with her.”

This pollywog’s growth has been shaped by sharing the water with Steamer Lane standouts like his favorite surfer, WSL shredder Nat Young. “He inspires me by showing that you can be from Santa Cruz and become a pro surfer,” the Bartlett says. “He is really kind, too.”

It turns out that Young has been taking notice in return. He once walked in the same “booties”—as an upstart goofy-foot surf rat at the Lane—and he’s impressed by what he sees. “He always looks like he’s having fun, which is very important,” notes Young. “As for his surfing, he charges! For a kid his age, you can tell he loves surfing bigger waves. He has improved a lot in a short amount of time—a true natural. I’m impressed.”


photo patrick trefz


DOB: July 21, 2007

Homebreak: The Lane

Sponsors: Volcom, Xcel, Oakley, Pacific Wave Surf Shop

The most underrated surfer in Santa Cruz is: Maybe Richie Schmidt, because he travels and gets insane barrels in Indo.

My favorite ice-cream shop is: Penny Ice Creamery, for sure! I like the sea-salt caramel flavor. We like to go on a Tuesday or Thursday from 4-6 p.m., when it’s “buy one scoop-get one free.”

How I avoid crowds in Santa Cruz: When it’s crowded, I go in if I am not having fun and come out again later when the crowd dies down.

The best part of coming from a giant family of surfers: Is that we get to spend a lot of time together in and out of the water. We can do surf trips together and we always watch surfing videos and surf contests together.

The most important lesson I’ve learned: Was from my Nana, who died from cancer. It was really hard to lose her. This taught me to enjoy people while I still have them.


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