It was the middle of January, a bitterly cold Missouri day and I just arrived back from a vacation trip from the Netherlands where it was probably colder, but being that I was in Europe I simply overlooked that fact. Patiently waiting at my parents house were my good friends, Jeremy and Chris.
As I stumbled in the door with some of my bags Jeremy calmly, yet quite assertively as if on a mission asked, "Dude where is your board?"
You won't believe it; anything I wasn't able to carry on the plane went to Memphis. They promised to have it to me before midnight. I'm more concerned than you are! I've got a gang of clothes I need to wash before we leave in the morning!
"Dude, I've got plenty of stuff and between Jeremy and I we can get you set up with a new board and clothes. Don't sweat it."
"Yeah Minnick, you know you don't have anything to worry about. That sucks though. I hope they get your things to you."
You're right. I'm tripping for no reason. We all have plenty of products but, I just hate breaking in a new set up.
"That's the least of our worries. We are all going to need to get comfortable with this new park."
"Yeah Jeremy's right on with that. That makes this not even an issue."
Because Chris and Jeremy were able to shed some new light on the situation, I no longer felt stressed out about not having what I needed. We all had more significant concerns.
Years prior to that day I would've never dreamed to be skateboarding at the level that I was. We all held very little responsibilities that held us anywhere for any amount of time. We had to work harder to be a part of the skateboard industry simply by our geographic location. It use to be a much more cultural diverse thing to be a skateboarder too. Looking back on the style that we represented then, we were recongnized as our own unique group. The baggy clothes, punk music, shaved heads, or just a punk look to scare away the people we'd rather not associate with. That is just what it is. So many things have changed as I reflect back now being almost twice the age I was then. We grew up in an era of skateboarding that was desperate for reconstruction.
The movie "Back to the Future" is what got me even wanting to ride a skateboard. So 1985 was the year that I began this adventure. I had no clue of the ride I was in for. Skateboarding became a very intricate part ofmy life through the years. I played soccer in high school but was unable to play my senior year. This skateboarding lifestyle dominated my mind, and my grades reflected it so much that I barely skated through high school. I was dreaming of skateboarding for a living. I wanted to be pro. I filmed for many years. It would be awesome to not need to buy all the products; shoes, clothes, boards, trucks, wheels, etc.............
I ended up being the first of all my friends to get hooked up with sponsors. When I seen my first ad in the newest Thrasher magazine, it was like a whirlwind of emotions that occur when Moms and Dads fight. Other than a dead silence, that which would come nearest to expressing this inexpressible filling is music.
Although being sponsored was a personal goal we all had, we all shared one common vision that kept us motivated. We came across a significant amount of obstacles that almost left us with the conclusion that we was doomed to fail at any level of liberating skateboarding. We simply didn't have the surplus of skate parks that we do today. If you look around today with the exploitation of it all you might think McDonald's had something to do with all the parks around. Everywhere you go there's a park. "OVER A ZILLION SKATED DAILY."
The few shops around town that sold skateboards were not owned and operated by people that had a sincere interest in helping the sport grow. The popularity of it wasn't near what it is today by any stretch of the imagination. The shops back then were not nearly as supportive as the ones we are so fortunate to have today. My good friend Adrian Frost owns the most reputable shop in Kansas City called Escapist. He helps the local rippers attain sponsors and provide a solid foundation of a shop sponsor to grow from. Shawn Malto is a prime example that has "came up", so to speak, from having a good shop here in town.
I got my first sponsors through local shops but they never gave me or my friends the respect that I felt we deserved, so I ventured out on my own to create a situation where I would never need to get any support from any shop. I wanted to let those shops know that I didn't need there help and that skateboarders ran skateboarding in Kansas City.
We would skate anywhere and everywhere and always get kicked out by police or security. There was simply nowhere you could skate legally. It was quite discouraging to be fighting for something that we loved while no one supported it at the time. We would always get harassed and picked on. We were forced to skate in large crews especially when we were younger. It just wasn't safe otherwise. In retrospect and with looking at what we have today for skate spots, I struggle to believe that today's generation of skaters fully appreciate what they've got. The kids today will complain if the park they are skating isn't perfect. If they only knew what my friends and I, as well as many other skaters, had to endure through, they would be happy to have just one park. Today you can go online to KCskateparks.com and pull up a list of parks to go to all around town. Now that's got to be rough.
Looking back on the day Jeremy, Chris, and I were heading to a skateboard competition, it looked as if we were having entirely too much fun to be doing anything productive. Even with all the partying and traveling that seemed reckless and completly irresponsible at the time, we manage to accomplish more than we'll ever get credit for. I'm okay with that. It was a group effort that involved skateboarding as a whole. The torch has been passed and this cultural phenomenon has continued to arouse substancial acceptance world wide. I'm thankful for being a surrounding piece that has helped build an outer boundary of the foundation of what skateboarding is today in Kansas City.