by Marlowe Demisch Salerno
Despite skateboardings reputation of being obnoxiously loud with most observers, it really made my life immeasurably better. My transition to middle school was also my transition to skateboarding. Up until then, my friend Leone and I were pretty heavy into soccer. One day when it was too wet to kick around a ball, we grabbed two skateboards from his dad, and for me it all began.
I had a few skating lessons from skateboard legend Mark Gonzalez when I was six years old. I remember him being really encouraging and making skateboarding seem really fun. Yet it took me another three or four years to pick it up seriously. After that rainy day, I brought my board to school one day for the first time. I met my friend Jiro, who would become one of my best friends. Looking back, there are three major ways skateboarding has made my life better.
I was not super scared to go to a skatepark for the first time because everyone was super accepting of every level of skateboarding. I wasn't intimidated and so I learned with their help to get better and better. After that first month I skated everyday, and each day I would talk to someone new. Most of these people are still friends and people I see frequently. It felt like being part of a team.
This may sound stupid, but I learned something about individualality from skateboard culture. Until I got inspired by the new people I saw around me, I didn't care much about my clothes and how I wanted people to see me. I gained the confidence from my peers to express a personal style. Somehow it has made me a more confident person.
I know that earlier I made it sound like I was constantly surrounded by friends but that's not always the case, and you learn that skating can be as much fun if you're alone as with other people. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated to me what I had already learned from skateboarding, that independent growth could be as valuable as learning side by side with others. This was an important life lesson for me because it taught me perseverance, and not to rely only on others to have fun.
I hope this may inspire you in your own lives. Skateboarding has been a major outlet in quarantine for me because it brings me outside and off my screen.