Story by Nicholas Casadona – Photography by Ashley Rupp
From the bottom of East Los Angeles, through San Diego, and down to the border of Mexico, the revolution of skateboarding shines bright in sunny Southern California.
Clear blue skies and painted red sunsets at their finest, skateboarders in SoCal are living the good life. A piece of cut wood with four wheels, this is the secret to their serenity. Live life and get big air, that is the movement.
A revolution of sorts, dates back to the late 1940s when surfers needed an extra activity when the waves were flat. All along the coast of California, people started attaching roller blade wheels to wooden boxes, coining the term “sidewalk surfing.” Many would even attach a handle bar like a scooter on the front of their boards. From there, they started constructing pressed-layered wooden planks with curved edges and even made clay wheels. People since have been shifting their boards and bodies, in all different ways.
There was a boom of sorts in the skateboard community in the mid-1960s when skateboard competitions began. In this time, there were freestyle skaters and downhill racers. The term freestyle refers to a way of skating on flat ground, where the skater balances themselves in different ways on the board, creating a free-flowing trick routine.
Skateboard icons like Tony Hawk, Danny Way, and Willy Santos have all been shredding up SoCal for decades and have made careers out of skateboarding. Eighty years since skateboarding’s origin, skaters of all ages are still hitting the streets of Downtown San Diego or visiting empty pools and parks in Oceanside, all looking for new places that may offer an escape from daily life.
“Skateboarding can make me feel many things. It makes me feel like I’m part of a community, it makes me feel free. I forget my problems. As long as I can confide in the skateboard then I have the ability to do whatever I please,” said local skater, Kyler Jakubowski. “Skateboarding can show love as much as anger. It’s easy to get upset with things you’re passionate about.”
More often than not, skateboarders start at a young age and continue skating for as long as their body can physically handle it. Jakubowski later explained: “I began to love skateboarding right after I played the Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. I used to skate every single day. As the body grows older, it makes the effort much harder on the body. Rest and proper stretching are required.”
Another skater who has skated Southern California their whole life is actor Jason Lee, who is widely known from his role as Earl in “My Name is Earl.” Lee said in an interview with IGN.com, “I was born in Orange, California and I grew up in Huntington Beach. I started skateboarding when I was 5 and have continued to do so off and on over the years.”
Student skaters are also in the mix at local skate parks.
Palomar Student Richard Murphy said in a recent interview, “SoCal is sick to skate. There are spots everywhere if you’re creative enough. The DIY spots are rad.”
Murphy, who learned of skateboarding from the movie, “Lords of Dogtown,” added: “I skate at least three to four days a week, and about three hours a time. For some, skateboarding is therapy.”
Let us not forget Willy Manalato Santos, a skateboarding legend widely known for his founding of Birdhouse Skateboard company with Tony Hawk in 1992. Santos, who still resides in San Diego to this day, has been supporting San Diego skaters since 2000 with his skate shop and brand Willy’s Workshop. Now at the age of 44, Santos is focusing more on working online and loving his family, but still skates daily.
Another well-known professional skateboarder is Entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek. He described the infinite possibilities of a skateboard. “A slam dunk or a breakdance move is limited by what the physical body can do.” he told the Huffington Post. “Now, a skateboard is limitless by design, by not only the dynamic of the board and the way it goes but also what you build to skate on.”
When it comes to areas to skate, there are parks, pools and DIY street spots all over Southern California. Oceanside, Encinitas and Carlsbad house some of the best skating locations known to man. Usually grouping up with several people per group, the skatepark is the ideal watering hole for thirsty skateboarders.
Oceanside, for example, is very much known for their surf scene, but nowadays, the skate scene is a close second place. Alex Road Skate Park in Oceanside, also known as Prince to the skaters, is a 22,000 square-foot skate park right off Highway 76. On a typical day, Prince will see hundreds of skaters going in and out.
Another Oceanside commodity is the Asylum Skate shop, which has been around for about 11 years. Here, skaters can buy boards, set them up, and even buy some new kicks to quickly ruin at Prince.
The city of Carlsbad is another hot spot in the skateboard world. Alga Norte Community Park is a newer 32-acre park where skaters can roam. Many skateboard videos have been filmed on these grounds, such as Transworld’s “Hard Luck.”
Chula Vista is home to six skateparks. Harborside Park and Len Moore Park are two of the bigger ones in Chula Vista, with both covering almost two acres of ground each.
Others head to Encinitas, Downtown San Diego or north to the Inland Empire to where skateboarding is thriving.
“It’s been a great ride traveling the world skateboarding,” Santos said. “I’m just happy to be rolling. That makes me smile!”