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Pro skaters 'get stoked' at JBLM plaza

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:32PM June 26th, 2014

Professional skateboarder Torey Pudwill was surprised to find that there is a skateboarding community in the military — especially at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

On Pudwill’s way to the unveiling of the world’s first “skatable” art sculpture in Seattle’s Jefferson Park, he and fellow pro Joey Brezinski played host to an interactive skate demo June 19 at JBLM Lewis Main’s Skate Plaza.

Crowds of military youths and a number of active-duty service members took turns alongside the pro skaters, tackling the rails, ramps and gaps for close to two hours.

Seeing the turnout brought a smile to Pudwill’s face.

“For them to invite us over for a skate session means a lot, and to see them supporting skateboarding is an honor,” Pudwill said.

Pudwill and Brezinski were filmed using the multiple lines that went from one end of the Skate Plaza to the other. Pudwill challenged a young skater, one he had met at a previous event, to a game of “skate;” the skating version of the basketball game of “Horse.”

The skaters took turns doing tricks— heel flips and kick flips with180-degree spins.

Pudwill, a Southern California native, mentioned that while there is pressure when skating at an unfamiliar park, skating with those who use it on a daily basis made the interactive demo “a lot more fun.”

“You get stoked off of their energy, and they get psyched off of your energy,” Pudwill said. “Everyone is just skating together and it’s just that true skateboard vibe.”

A few active-duty service members joined in the fun. Despite their military demands, Soldiers like Pfc. Derek McGalliard of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment try to skate as much as possible.

“I think it’s a big morale booster for any Soldier who still skates,” McGalliard said. “It’s nice to know there are people in the Army who still do what they love.”

Pudwill commented that the evolving skateboarding scene at the JBLM Skate Plaza reflects what he’s seen throughout the Northwest: many young, talented skateboarders who could easily develop into professionals like them.

But a bright future for the sport requires providing a safe environment where kids can practice and improve, Pudwill said. JBLM’s skate park opened two years ago with safety features built-in for all patrons – inexperienced to advanced.

“What would these kids be doing if this park wasn’t here?” Pudwill said. “It gives them a chance to really skateboard and have a chance to have a career at it.”

While the younger skateboarders watched the professionals before attempting the same type of line, their parents watched from a distance as they worked repeatedly on the same tricks to master them.

The demo also gave aspiring athletes a chance to meet someone who had won a bronze medal at the X Games last year and is now a sponsored athlete.

“When you’re starting and interacting with a professional, it shows what you can become,” said Spc. Joshua Childress of JBLM’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who brought his son Travis, 11, to skate.