About Conatus Surf Club

Conatus’ (kuh-nah-tus), a word taken from Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy, means to endeavor or persevere. It’s that force within us that is always striving--for freedom, for joy. For me, this joy comes when I’m sharing my love of surfing with others.

Other surf schools focus on “pushing” you into the water, giving the impression that surfing is just standing on a board and riding a wave. Well, like any other practice, there’s a lot more to it than that! Real surfing begins with a special acquaintance with the ocean and the earth. Some of the most important judgments you’ll make in your surfing career start on the land, beginning with with how you want to learn and what kind of teacher you want to guide you.

Like many seasoned surfers, I learned through a system of kinship—I came from a surfing family and grew up at the beach. I loved watching my dad ride huge waves and spent A LOT of time just staring at the ocean and listening to other surfers. They taught me why the waves came when they did, where they came from, and what to look for. As a teacher, watching and listening is the foundation of my approach. Starting here eliminates a lot of the mystery and guesswork.

My goal with Conatus Surf Club is to establish a line of kinship through building strong and ethical surfing communities—at bottom we’re all related through our love of the ocean. The more people who enjoy surfing in an intentional and holistic manner, the more we’ll be treating one another with respect—--sharing waves, and making the most of our own potential.

Our headquarters are located in Brooklyn, NY. Our main places to teach are Rockaway, Long Beach, northern New Jersey, and parts of Long Island. Our approach to lesson location is similar to our philosophy: we schedule based upon ocean and wind conditions, so we change locations per the forecast. We are also opening up outposts in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They will have the same approach, which means varying locations per conditions. 



Dion Mattison , is the founder and lead instructor of Conatus Surf Club. Born on a sailboat, Dion has been surfing since the age of one, when his father, Richard “Mad Dog” Mattison, first put him on a board. Dion began teaching surf lessons in 2000, working with Ed Guzman at Club Ed Surf School in Santa Cruz, CA, then teaching privately in San Francisco.

Dion launched Conatus Surf Club with the aim of providing high quality individualized instruction. Dion is a Ph.D. candidate in the Philosophy Department at the New School for Social Research and teaches fashion history and visual culture at Parsons The New School for Design. He has lived in New York since 2009.


Andrew Mattison is the younger brother of CSC owner Dion Mattison. He is an expert surfer, diver, fisherman, waterfall guide, chef, and vehicle operator. During the colder half of the year, he runs Rancho Diandrew in SW Costa Rica, where CSC holds specialized surf retreats. Andrew's infectious personality and natural gift for hospitality translates into a keen ability to make even the most timid of souls feel safe and confident in heavy situations. He has a BS in Hotel and Resort Management from Cal State University, Monterey Bay. 



Juan Heredia is a naturally talented surfer hailing from Miami, Florida. He was introduced to surfing through skateboarding and boogie boarding by some of the older kids in his neighborhood. A talented painter as well, Juan sees a strong connection between art and surfing through the process of visualization. Anyone you meet who has seen Juan surf or has surfed with him will express total awe at his ability to find waves that no one else even knows are there. His style takes a lot from the thrashier elements of skateboarding but is punctuated with a smooth flow. In terms of instruction, Juan is especially skilled at relating paddling and positioning to breath and ocean intuition.  


Andrew Dolan was born and raised in the Monterey Bay area. He and Dion grew up surfing together in the heavy barrels of the local beach breaks. He has an effortless style and keen wave knowledge. Like NY coaches Juan and Dion, Andrew is adept at finding medium size and inside waves that no one else sees. This is a crucial skill for anyone looking to fast track their learning curve to attain. A college trained illustrator and film editor (CSUMB), Andrew will be able to get you a sick little video edit of your advanced sessions in the blink of an eye. Andrew also works closely with a number of local shapers, and will be able to inform and guide you in building your quiver.  When not surfing Andrew is busy taking care of his two small boys, Wylder and Sawyer, and playing in his honky tonk band, The Good Sams.


Mike Siordia... coming soon