“I quit being a quitter” is something I heard from Jeff Toland a million times back in the day. Jeff always had some witty and brilliant one liners. Since then I’ve used the same line and it made more sense the older I became. What started as something funny to say about drinking, drugs, and any particular bad habit became a view on skateboarding for me. Mostly due to all of the random, “I used to skate” stories I would hear from older cats. “I used to skate until I fell and broke my elbow” or add any other body part has been like a broken record player as they say. Follow that up with a quick “I quit being a quitter” and the conversation would be short. Obviously there are dramatic injuries that keep you off your board and some that can make you have to hang it up for good. That being said, there’s basic hard slams, broken this or that, and black out head slams that you deal with as a lifer.
When I first started skating it was on an up swing as far as popularity goes. A lot of people were into it because it was the newest thing to be a part of. Once I got hooked that was all she wrote. In a years time skateboarding died. The popularity just plunged and the 20 plus guys that skated the year before shrank down to maybe 5 of us. To top that off, the guys who quit decided the rest of us who kept skating were deemed “skate fags” and other colorful terms. Skate fags, skate and destroy, and the always popular “skater faggots!” were shouted from monster trucks driving by. To add insult to injury, we would often find our ramps and props ran over by these same guys who used to skate. That was the 80s and most of the 90s until the X-Games came along and made things acceptable amongst the general population.
Throughout the years skating I was never that guy who considered trying to become sponsored. Don’t get me wrong, being sponsored looked like a great plan. Talent wise I didn’t have the juice, true story. Kicking around mongo and skating everything was how it went down. Mini ramps, vert ramps, pools, street, hills, curbs, and just about anything we could find. I always had an interest the industry side of things. Advertisements, production, team management, and R&D had me curious and that’s where I ended up. Being shop sponsored and entering contests was always fun though, I still like contests to this day. I’ll run into old friends and they’ll ask if I’m still skating which I can only reply, “yep, usually three or four times a week.”. Their response is usually odd, almost disappointed in a way. Almost like they saw a piece of their youth go away when they quit skating. Life won and now they cling to memories because it was time to be an adult.
Growing up in a time period where you were hated because you rode a skateboard has certainly gave me a chip on my shoulder. Something about the cobwebbed skateboards suddenly appearing at the local skateparks rubbed me wrong. There were people showing up in droves now that it was easy. Where were you for the struggle, when there were no parks and we had to build our own spots? I fought for my scene and my friends when a truck load of dudes pulled over just to kick a skaters ass. All the SODC, 293, live4die4, and Reno Zoo guys get what I mean. Reno was rough business for a long time. Skin heads, jocks, cowboys, and wannabe gangster dudes looking to start shit with some guys skating down town. Shit was hectic and at the same point it was worth the fight. Pride heals a hell of a lot slower than a black eye.
Now days I look at how big and accepted skating is and I can’t help but smile. The more the merrier and now it’s more than ever. No matter what chip I carry on my shoulder skating will always be the same. It’s the best thing around and there will always be a brother-ship because it hasn’t changed that much. We will always be kicked out of spots, be outnumbered in sketchy situations, and forever be harassed by Cops. Reno has always had such a strong scene and it’s gotten stronger. Gone are the days where you could tell who skated by their shoes, but the actual feeling will always remain. Thanks to all the guys who fought the good fight when the road wasn’t so smooth, it’s been a hell of a ride. Thanks for taking the lumps, J.T. Gurzi, Dirt Collins, Ozzy Alvarez, Erik Jensen, Beau Bevier, Deejay Saurus, Kelly Haugen, Mark Carlisle, Jake Griffin, Toby Riley, Dean Christopher, Scott Waters, Greg Janess, the SAPS, John Ludwick, Justin Hay-Chapmin, Chris Williamson, Corey Etchinek, Rod Roland, Kyle Volland, Scott Brown, Spencer Benavides, Beau Shaver (RIP), Britt Del Carlo, Andy McKennie, Bryan Nolte, Tony Hospital (RIP), Ray Henderson, Chris Carnel, Daryl DiBattista, Lee Elmaker, Tim Loesch, JD, Ian James, Boozer, Chris Steurer, Daryl Pierce, Jeremy Bradley, Chris Eidem, Steve Stubblefield (RIP), Jimmy Allred, Steve Schmitt, and anyone else that stood their ground. The stories we’ll always have are well worth the scars to back them up. -ERL