I started skateboarding in fall 1999. I was 15. I was living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I remember seeing skateboarders by Memorial University and the Avalon Mall. They were doing tricks and having fun. It looked cool to see the board pop off the ground. It’s like it was stuck to their feet. The flip tricks amazed me. I couldn’t believe how they could consistently pop the board, flip it, then land on it again while rolling. I wanted to do the same.
I kept telling people at school that I was going to start rollerblading, but I was actually saving up for a skateboard complete. I was making money by babysitting my baby brother. And to save that money, I was stealing instead of buying necessities from the local Avalon Mall. I figured I could keep my expenses low this way. At the time, it made sense to me. I could save up for a complete in a few months this way! I eventually got caught by the mall security and was banned from the mall for a year. I wasn’t allowed on the property so I couldn’t skate with the other skaters there when I got my complete.
I eventually got my first complete at Ballistics, the local shop. I got a neon green and black Alien Workshop deck, Destructo trucks, black Powell wheels, and Lucky 3 bearings. I didn’t get any skate shoes at first. I didn’t have the money. I wasn’t going to use the steal ‘n’ save method again either. I wore my white Nike cross trainers. Months later, through honest savings and discounted shoes that didn’t fit, I got black and navy blue camouflage pattern DC Shoes.
I started skating in the streets by my house and at the Memorial University underground parking lot. I could already push. I learned how to do that at an early age. My cousin had given me his old school Tony Hawk board, and I used to butt board and push around on that when I was six. Now, a high schooler, I was just pushing around really fast. I would ride off curbs at high speed. I even tried riding off a 6-stair! The board would never stick to my feet though. It would shoot out into the street, and I would slam at the bottom of the stairs.
When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out, a few months later, I started playing it for hours every day and was seeing tricks more regularly. I thought the easiest trick in the game for me to do would be a Christ Air. I took it to the 6-stair. The ollie was the hardest part so I started trying to do a caveman Christ Air down the set. I was getting really close. I landed on my board a lot but could never roll away.
I didn’t have any friends who skated in St. John’s. I only had Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the skate videos Fulfill the Dream, Misled Youth, and 411 Video Magazine 34. I rented them from Ballistics and copied them using the two-VCR method.
I kept skating alone. It turned winter. At this time, I started trying fakie shove-its and kickflips in my basement. I could land fakie shove-its in motion almost every try but had to do kickflips stationary. I could pop and flip them really well but couldn’t land more than one per day. I still couldn’t ollie, and I knew, in addition to the freezing cold and snow, this was holding me back.
I left St. John’s in the the middle of grade eleven because of family issues. My mother, my younger brother, and I moved to Campbellton, New Brunswick.
My mother and younger brother started living at my grandparents’ house. I started living with my dad. I did a major clean up in his basement. I moved a hoarder’s amount of storage boxes and unused furniture against the walls. I made my own skatelab with the new space. I skated flat here every day after school. Campbellton usually has snow until March or April, and it was January now. There was no hope of skating outdoors anytime soon. I was practicing different tricks and having fun every day in the basement. I could eventually land ollies, kickflips, heelflips, and half-cab heelflips consistently. I practiced doing ollies over plastic 2 liter bottles, too. I made a box with coping. I learned 50-50s, noseslides, and tailslides on it before it was spring.
Now, it was getting warmer and the snow was melting. I started carrying my skateboard to school because I wanted to skate street by my grandparents’ house after school. The skaters at school suddenly came up to me and asked, “You wanna skate the steps after school?” They had never talked to me before. One area at school was sheltered by the school’s eaves, so we could skate there even if there was snow left on the ground. They said this is where they usually skated. The bottom stair was waxed, too. I had never seen another skater do a grind in person before. The guy who asked me to skate it, did a fakie 50-50 180-out so easily. He did noseslide shove-it out a lot, too. He even ollied the 5-stair! Some of the others were trying manual tricks and ollies. I skated with them all regularly from that day, but on the weekends, I could skate with skaters from the other school in the area.
The snow was gone, and the streets were dry. All I wanted to do was skate. I skated at the skatepark, in the streets, during break at my part-time job at Dairy Queen… after, at, and in school. I skated anywhere with a surface. My crew and I skated the streets and were hassled by the cops regularly. We were always on the lookout for them because skateboarding outside of the city skatepark was against the city bi-laws. The cops could literally confiscate our boards for skating on the street in front of our own house. I once had to appear in court for skating in front of a church. I didn’t care though. I just wanted to skate.