Professional Skateboarder / Skatepark Design : Build : Innovator 

 TBI Survivor  /   Epilepsy Warrior

My very first encounter with the dangers of a backyard pool was waking up to paramedics reviving me after I had drowned in the deep end of a backyard pool during a family gathering after trying to learn to swim by myself when I was 4 years old.  There were so many kids playing Marco Polo in the shallow end that nobody had noticed I had drowned until I was eventually discovered in the deep end at the bottom of the pool.

 

CONQUERING FEAR! 

THIS WAS WRITTEN 1994 WHILE RECOVERING WIHT PTSD SOON AFTER BEING RELEASE FROM MONTHS IN THE HOSPITAL. PUBLISHED IN 1995 , THRASHER MAG

The Driving Force behind skateboarding for me has been my dad's big brown van. Over the years it has won notoriety as the Hell-Van. We have nine people in my family, seven of them kids. We needed a big car. My dad had faith in Dodge vans. We went through a few of them when I was growing up. He'd always use the same engine, though, just building it up every time we changed the shells. He put this two-tone, brown-body on it when I was in fifth grade that lasted ever since.  As I grew up, my three older brothers would bomb down Madison street. Our house was at the top of Madison. My brothers had metal boards that they made at dad's machine shop. They would follow behind each other in their vans and watch
the speedometer to see who went the fastest.  They averaged just forty mph. Nick went 50 mph down it once. I am not sure which van they clocked him with. I got speed wobbles and slammed my first try from the top when i was six scraping half of my face off. An old lady honked at me until I crawled to the side of the road. My brother Alec built quarter-pipes and went to the skateparks towards the end of the seventies. Me and my younger twin brothers Mathew and Nathan could only do fakies on the ramps, aiming for the seams at the top. My mom and dad would take the four of us to the Wild Wild Wheels Skateparks in the Hell-Van, and Alec would skate there.  The rest of us would play miniature golf next door.  I rode Alec's board there a few times when he took a break to catch his breath.

 

When I was in Junior high school, Mathew, Nathan and I started to skate the Upland Pipeline. My mom would drive us out there on Saturdays in the Hell-Van. One time when we went to skate the pipeline, a pro competitions was going on in the combination pool. Neil Blender was stalling andrechts in the round pool for four seconds, and Christian Hosoi was grabbing his board frontside and doing backflips (Miller flips) in the square.  We didn't read the skateboard magazines yet, and we were in awe. I went there however , I couldn't get there after that.  I dislocated my shoulder doing a backslide corner air in the square when I was fifteen. I couldn't skate for months after that. The first of many injuries to follow till this day. My brother Alec got directions from the Eagle Rock ramp crew, and we built an 11' wide, 8' transition halfpipe in our backyard.  We learned tricks on that but kept learning how to go fast at the Pipeline on Saturdays.  Lance Mountain came over and put our ramp in a Ramp Locals article. We got our first photos in the magazines.  Then there was Phil's ramp in Alhambra that had 9' transitions. Phil, Lance, Spidey, Steve Keenan, Jeff Grosso and Eric Nash would all skate there. 

 

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My friend Kevin Foster would come pick me up, and we would go out there and skate with the pros.  Kevin was a professional break dancer.  He was in the Kool-Aid break dance commercials doing back-flips off trees.  He could do stale fish front side inverts, alley-oop invert channels, boneless to nose to fakie and many other tricks from his planet.  He would rock-n-roll out, do a head-spin on the platform, fall back onto his board and rock-n-roll back in. Eric Dressen Dogtown after we skated the Pipeline together.  I then entered the regional's and qualified to go to the national finals. From what I saw, Jeff Phillips and Chris Miller were going off the strongest.  Not holding themselves back.  All or nothing. I wanted to skate like them, so I ended up slamming a lot of the time. I slammed my way to the finals and placed third. Jim Muir gave me a Dogtown in 1988. Soon after turning pro I was in a head on collision car accident which I broke my liver, back, neck, and skull which resulted in a coma for a bit. Riding in the backs of trucks is illegal for a reason. I had to learn how to walk again.  -- BEN SCHROEDER - Thrasher Magazine , 1995