Monday, May 8, 2017

Skater Spirit lives on

It's been 5 years since I've posted, but the siren call of sharing "happies" proved to be too much today. This story came across my feed today, I'll let it speak for itself:


Thanks to sister LuLu for sharing this!

Friday, June 29, 2012


I am currently staying in my hometown in Southern California, with a long time friend who is friends with Tony Hawk’s mom. Everyone knows who Tony Hawk is. In my teen years he was a cult figure around town, mainly for the fact that he was one of the only high school guys we knew that had a backyard ramp. It was huge, and his legend was already growing in a time when the only bowl action we could get was when we could find waterless swimming pools and our parents thought we were crazy for the hours we spent on four wheels...but I digress...

This friend put Tony Hawk’s latest book, "How Did I Get Here?" in my hand, knowing that I was blogging about skateboarding and such. At first, I didn’t think I had any time to read for fun, but of course, the words sucked me in. Besides being a well written book about pioneering a sport that didn’t actually exist, his acknowledgements section, in particular, struck me. There are over 370 people that Tony shows appreciation for. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of gratitude.

While it is wonderful that Tony appreciates so many people, it is not surprising that there are so many people to thank. The world of a bowl rider, from beginning to expert is a collaborative world. With each trick, there is someone out there that does a piece of it a little better, has perfected the move, or has had failures that can inform your efforts. There is a constant observation, practice, questioning, more practice and assimilation that takes place every time a kid gets on a board or a bike. Each time another rider gets in the bowl, there is something to be learned, if you only take the time to pay attention.  This process is extremely useful outside the bowl, too, as those that can observe, assimilate, and put into practice different experiences will be able to roll with the punches and have long term success.

So thanks, Tony, not only for acknowledging those who have helped along your way, but also for showing us what gratitude can look like when you’re all grown up, and still at the bowl.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blunt Fakies & Other Peer Group Identifiers

Hey, Dude!  Your front side blunt fakie is stellar!  Mine looks really sketchy.....any tips?

And so it begins.

As Michael Gurian writes in "The Wonder of Boys" :

  • Boys gravitate toward and form their culture around large groups.  A boy without a "peer group" feels very lost.  One of the many reasons boys join gangs is the search for the group in which he can relax, have a task, feel powerful as part of a collective...(Gurian, Michael. The Wonder of Boys. New York , Putnam. 1996. Print)
The peer group in the bowl is a powerful microcosm for peer groups throughout life:  there is a hierarchy, a vocabulary, a way to be invited 'in', & a code of conduct.  Let's look at these a little closer:

  • Hierarchy:  There are two ways to climb the ladder here, through skill and/or age.  There is a respect earned, of course, through tricks mastered, but those who have a few more years on them are also respected by others, as long as they are respectful to those around them.

  • Vocabulary:  Spend even a little time around a bowl and you'll feel as if you've 'dropped in' to another country.  The language developed by skaters serves a purpose, though:  to identify the speakers as part of the group.  If you don't understand, you aren't part of the group......yet.

  • The way to be invited in:  Observe, observe, observe. Respect others & their space, and ask for help.  These are the best ways to find acceptance at the bowl. 

  •  Code of Conduct:  The unstated Code of Conduct has everything to do with respecting those around you. Cutting  people off in the middle of runs, bragging, hogging the bowl, not cleaning up after yourself, & not apologizing after accidentally getting in some one's way are all acts that will get you ostracized. 
All in all, the bowl is a effective place to learn how to get along in groups, and these lessons will apply in many different situations.  I'd much rather my kids learn them here instead of choosing a more dangerous group.  That's why you'll find this the bowl.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Risky Tricks are for Kids!

Fear & determination show in his face, as he stands at the side of the bowl, wondering if he’ll make it, wondering how much it will hurt if he doesn’t, wondering if he’ll look sketchy as he tries to land. Everybody’s watching. His heart is pumping a million times a second. He gulps, he breathes, he goes, he lands.

Why in the world would anybody choose this adrenaline rush? To be scared by choice? To pursue a pastime that may or may not land you in the hospital? Over & over?

Turns out the answer is biology. Neurobiology and adolescent development to be exact. The brain of a teen is still finishing off, and develops from back to front. Without getting too technical, the areas that are responsible for the following, in order of ‘finishing’:

1) Physical Coordination
2) Emotion
3) Motivation
4) Judgement

Hmmmm. Is it a surprise, then, the drive for emotionally stimulating physical feats is so great before wise judgement is developed? As a matter of fact, we might not ever have tried anything at all if our judgement was developed first.  Teens's brains need those experiences in order to wire the brain for judgement, thereby finishing it out.  Can you think of any other emotionally stimulating physical experiences that teens have a drive for that might not be so beneficial to their overall or long term health? Drugs? Alcohol? Risky Sex? Crime?  This mom will take risky tricks for her kids at the bowl any day.

Click here for more detailed information on risky teen behavior & a really cool diagram of the developing teen brain.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Math & Science at Play

The cry of many educators, businesses, and the general public is that our children have little to no working knowledge of mathematics & the sciences. But math & science are what made our country great! The understanding & use of math & science to solve everyday problems propelled our country to inventions that many have not only emulated, but have now surpassed us in their practical applications. Many of these inventors started in their backyards as kids, wondering “what if?” & “how can I build...?” with many important mistakes along the way.

  • How many kids get the chance to dream up, draw, plan, build, then test their designs?
  • How many kids get the chance to use measurements in a project that they then get to use everyday?
  • How many kids get to consider physics as they plan how fast gravity pull is, then experience it for themselves?
  • How many kids get to consider geometry as they physically experience the difference of varying planes & angles?
  • How many kids to make a mistake that costs them their own time, money, and frustration, so that the next time they measure once, cut twice?

Skaters & bikers do! In a refreshingly “old school” way, they are constantly taking into consideration speed, angles starting/ending points, etc. in their riding, and the majority of them end up taking the next step of building a home ramp or two, which is just what our family has been up to the last few months. While it was a blast to build together, it was also a study in math, science, and patience; all skills the world could use more of.

Here’s the finished product:

On a larger scale, pros do this too! In April 2011, the team from Built to Shred joined forces with San Francisco’s Exploratorium to create an amazing, interactive exhibit, “Skateboard Science”. Click on links to see how the big boys roll, and a few hints on tricks from a science perspective.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Success in a Bowl?

Rollllllllll CLACK! Rolllllllllll CLACK!

The sound is unmistakable (or should I say unmis-skateable).  The sound of skateboard wheels rolling across the concrete bowl with their familiar rhythm.  Today it is seems to repeat itself, Rollllllllll CLACK! Rolllllllllll CLACK!'.  Every once in a while the rhythm is interrupted with either a cheer ('yesss!'), or a  jeer ('bleep,'which is the fill-in expletive created by my boys for otherwise un-allowed vocabulary) as the trick is either accomplished or missed. This repetition is being performed in the presence of other boarders of all ages, who offer tips every now again, along with gruff encouragement.

Rollllllllll CLACK! Rolllllllllll CLACK!

 I begin to count the attempts.....when I near 50 my mind wanders to a recent book written by Malcolm Gladwell, titled "Outliers: The story of Success" (Little, Brown, & Company 2008).  In his book, Gladwell discusses the patterns and societal circumstances that have made successful people successful, and I can't help but draw a parallel between the long term successes he discusses and the 'Rollllllllll CLACK' that is happening hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in this 2 hour skate session.  Persistence +environment+ re-evaluation = success, and that is exactly what is being created here, today, in the bowl.

Rollllllllll CLACK! Rolllllllllll CLACK!