Boarders find haven in Beverly Hills

Published April 13, 2006

BEVERLY HILLS - They wear baggy pants and talk about doing things like 180 ollies, kickflips and premo slides. The skateboarders come after school and skate until the cooler hours of the day, riding "the hip," a pyramid-like object, handrails, stairs, a bowl and "kickers," also known as mini ramps.

On the first day of April, more than 40 people gathered at the Beverly Hills Community Skate Park to watch 10 skateboarders from the Skatepark of Tampa.

"There ain't no look, just long hair and tight clothes," said Paul Guinn, who attends Citrus Springs Middle and sports a shaggy 'do.

On this particular day, there was an interesting mix of police officers promoting helmet safety, youth and adults who watched, then skated, infrequently stopping for a interlude of pickup basketball games in between boarding inside the chain-linked park.

Mike Pate, 32, who lives in Beverly Hills and works for the Times as a graphic designer, organized the event. An avid boarder as a 12-year-old, Pate said he hadn't skated for 20 years. But when his youngest son, Tyler, 10, got old enough, it became a bonding experience for the two of them.

"It was the healthiest part of my childhood," Pate said. "I enjoyed doing it myself and I wanted him to share that."

Pate's best move is an ollie, where, if done right, the board flies through the air.

"It's all in the stance," Pate said.

The skater puts one foot on the tail and one foot about midway up the board. Then the skater "kicks the tail" (by pushing down on the rear until it hits the ground) jumps and slides their foot sideways up the grip tape. When it all comes together, the skater takes flight.

With the explosion of the XGames and pro skater PlayStation video games with stars like Tony Hawk, skateboarding has taken on a life of its own, making concrete parks like the one in Beverly Hills, which was built in the late 1990s, more popular in recent years.

Adam Burgess, 24, who is an administrative assistant for Skatepark of Tampa and was part of the Beverly Hills demonstration, said the biggest thing with skating is finding new places to explore and be creative on the board.

But he also likes places that are a safe haven from angry store owners, police officers and homeowners.

"Parks like this are definitely fun," Burgess said. "Because you don't get kicked out by the authorities and you don't have to be on the lookout for the man that's going to give you a hard time for doing something you love."

A recent USF graduate, Burgess said he didn't play organized sports at Durant High in Plant City because of the freedom that comes with skateboarding.

"There's no coach yelling at me, it's just like me and that board," Burgess said. "I don't have to worry about scheduled practice or letting other people down, it's just me."

Dawn Reiss can be reached at 352 860-7303 or dreiss@sptimes.com