Students who Skate

The sun beats down on the concrete expanse of the skatepark, its surface worn and scarred from countless wheels grinding, flipping and sliding. A group of skaters gathers at the lip of the half-pipe, surveying the obstacles that loom before them.

To them, skating is not just a pastime – it is a way of life, a constant challenge and never-ending journey of discovery. It is a fusion of dizzying heights, split-second decisions and pure adrenaline that cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Jorge Acevedo (11) crouches down amid the bustle. With a quick pop of the tail, he launches upward, flipping his board in a gravity-defying feat of skill and finesse that seems to defy the laws of physics. He lands with a satisfying thud and rolls away with a prideful smirk, having nailed the trick once again, not by luck, but through years of repetition.

“I started skating at about age five or six. Every other day, I’d go to my neighbor’s [house] to skate with him and that’s what we’d do all day,” Acevedo said.

From the famous La Jolla Cove to the bustling Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego is a rider’s playground and a skateboard is the ticket to seemingly endless possibilities.

“Skating means the ability to go wherever and still feel connected to the world around you,” Finn Hecko (11) said.

There is simply no feeling like the thrill of cruising down a smooth pavement carving curves. The breeze rushing past, the sound of wheels on the concrete and the freedom to travel wherever you want spell invigoration and liberation.

“I have been skating for about five years, and I like that the environment is supportive and laid back,” Hecko said.

According to Hecko, skateboarders often eschew the rigid rules of more traditional sports, preferring to express themselves through creativity and style.

The calm and cool nature of the sport has helped to make it one of the most popular and enduring sports in Southern California, attracting a diverse range of people who share a love of freedom, fun and independence.

“I skate at the Del Mar Pump Track with my family and close friends. San Diego is the board sport capital of the West Coast and has the perfect climate for skating,” TPHS math teacher Robert Preske said.

Like Acevedo, Hecko and Preske, Mayana Mayberry (10) has also experienced her most enthralling moments while boarding.

“What drew me to skating was the concept of being able to do crazy flips and flying down hills with my board,” Mayberry said.

Vincent Salvatore (11), a skater of three years, started skating during quarantine as a means to stay active.

“I picked up my first skateboard during COVID-19 when I wanted to try a new hobby,” Salvatore said. “With persistence and practice, I found the rhythm that I have today, and I’m glad that I can skate whenever I get the chance.”

Whether they have been skating for three years or 10, skaters are united by a common conviction – their skateboards provide them with a shared creative outlet of art and creativity all in one electrifying experience.

According to Hecko, his friends who skate are consistent contenders at the Sun Diego Am Slam, an annual surf, skate and music festival hosted by sports gear brands such as Billabong, Quiksilver and Roxy. Such events offer opportunities for like-minded individuals to connect with each other to celebrate the sport they love.

According to Acevedo, these social get-togethers are important occasions in the skating community.

“My friends who skate tend to come together in a sense of brotherhood,” Acevedo said. “It’s exciting to see that the skate community is only growing.”

From vintage boards to cutting-edge gear, local businesses are not only supporting the growth of the sport in the county but also enabling it.

“I usually shop at Sixes and Sevens Skateshop by Rancho Penasquitos Skate Park. Its location is helpful; people get boards, trucks and wheels right by where they’d skate,” Salvatore said.

According to Mayberry and Preske, the sales of skate gear has skyrocketed in recent years, as more people are looking to get into the sport.

“I would definitely see more customers in shops and more skaters at the pump tracks,” Preske said.

Acevedo agreed with Preske.

“It’s so exciting to see as the SoCal area has adapted itself to offer more skate contests from shops, local riders and fundraisers, allowing for younger riders to hone their skills,” Acevedo said.

As the sunlight begins to wane and the park’s lights flicker on, the group of skaters let out a collective long sigh, exhausted but exhilarated from a day of pushing their limits and perfecting their skills. With their limbs heavy and hearts full, they peel off their helmets, pack up their boards and eagerly look forward to their next skate adventure.

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