The Positive Side of Skateboarding
Skateboarding is what gets Justin “Jay” Jablanski up every morning. Since adolescence, he has never lost the challenge of the sport and keeps tuned in to what makes it work for him and those he serves at the YMCA of The Palm Beaches' Oelsner Skate Park.
What are the odds that out of the 6.4 million skateboarders in the US, the top enthusiasts and professional skaters practice at the local Y? We can count Jay among that group as he has learned from the best, including Alex Sorgente (2019 Team USA Olympic Contender, Skatepark Division).
On any given day, fans of the sport can observe Jay in action jumping, sliding, and rolling to perform difficult stunts or demonstrating ollies to young skaters. There is never a lack of attention from him as to what might make the park a better place for kids, young and old. He focuses on keeping the action upbeat and safe for all skaters.
How daring are you?
Given the sport is growing in popularity, would you consider this activity for personal recreation?
A Passion to Learn
So how did Jay become such a skateboard aficionado? When he was 10 years old, Jay’s passion for the sport was influenced by a next-door neighbor. As he watched him from across the street performing amazing stunts, Jay’s curiosity drew him in. He started spending every summer day learning the basic skills from his new buddy who was only too willing to help him experience the challenge of skateboarding.
Jay also credits Mike Rogers, Founder of Grind for Life, with taking him under his wing to master higher level skills at the local Y. As Mike Rogers tells it, Justin came to the park an amateur with minimal expertise, but in just a little time he built his strength and stamina to become a competitive skater.
Both Mike and Jay would agree skateboarding leads to a positive and healthy lifestyle. Jay’s take from staying with skateboarding? It is the feeling of knowing you are good at something. Something hard to learn and persevering until you master it.
I was skating with friends in my neighborhood, and then eventually I was invited to go to the skate park with one of them. When I saw people flying all around - literally flying in and out of bowls - that is when I knew I wanted to do it. I wanted to figure out how I could get there and how I could fly. -- Tony Hawk
Kicking It and Feeling the Grind
Answers to Most Often Asked Questions
What draws a person to the sport?
It is the challenge of mastering a trick. Setting a goal and pulling a trick safely without bailing. It’s learning how to make that next level work for you. It’s also the camaraderie you build with others in the sport. Everyone takes an interest in helping you learn skills.
Are there any dangers to skateboarding?
The sport gets people outdoors to enjoy a fun activity. You make good friends. But, it also comes with the potential for injury. It’s part of the sport. Skaters expect an occasional slam. I myself have taken a few hard spills but the goals accomplished, and skills mastered outweigh the threat of any injury. Here at the Y, we enforce wearing helmets where other parks do not follow this practice. Also, we monitor the park for safety—a good reason to use the facilities here.
What age is too young or old to start skating?
The younger you start, the better. Alex Sorgente was six when he came to the Y. I would say the ideal age to start would be around seven. Young kids do better because they are not afraid to fall, an important part of facing the challenges. Although, there are a few adults who have taken an interest in the sport and do very well. We do see more adults frequenting the park just because it helps them keep active.
Best skateboard to own?
My first skateboard was a Sunsport, a gift from my mom for my 10th birthday. I was not totally surprised since I had hinted for one almost every day that month. Today, there are so many choices out there, but I like those with good graphics, like Antihero (which is American made—another plus with me!). Which is best? It really depends on what you want to do with it. What types of tricks do you want to learn? Cruising or skateboarding? Basically, you want one that rides well and is going to take the hard landing from flips and spins.
What does a good skate park look like?
The ideal park has rails, pipes, stairs, a full bowl and all flows well. There are other skaters who you can watch and who can critique your skills. Music is a good backdrop for training and added hype. There are plans to develop a new 27,000-foot skate park here. The park will boost competitive style skating and gives skaters, especially the younger ones, a safe place to hang out.
Skateboarders portray themselves as drifters with questionable habits. The media shows them as drug users skating the streets. What is your take on this type of image?
Not every skater is like that. Skateboarding is an outlet for most. A fun activity. They enjoy the challenge of mastering a trick—it drives them. That is a positive outcome for most skateboarders.
How has skateboarding changed over the years?
There are a lot more parks, and the level of skating has increased. Girls, like skate pros Lizzie Armanto and Jordyn Barrat, have gotten into the competitions. They are great challengers. Skaters are starting younger now due to the hype and passion demonstrated by other skaters. Also, the International Olympic Committee has approved it as a competing sport for the 2020 program in Tokyo. It is getting world-wide attention.
Skateboarding on the Beach
Top Five Reasons to Skateboard
The fresh air stimulates your mind and helps you re-focus. It can also boost your immunity. It's a great stress reducer as you exert physical exercise.
It requires you to use your hands, feet and eyes to balance yourself as you skate. This only improves over time as you continue to master tricks.
Full Body Workout
As you move you are using your whole body, which in turn gets your heart pumping. It's a great cardio activity. It also burns calories and keeps you flexible.
The challenge of mastering tricks excites skaters but it takes dedication and time to really excel at them. Skaters learn to analyze a move to perfection. Patience is the outcome!
The mental and physical exertion help eliminate diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Boost Your Mental and Physical Capacity
Perseverance Pays Off!
In spite of a late start and other personal setbacks, Jay has persevered to own the sport of skateboarding, defying the odds. He is an inspiration to many young athletes who frequent the skate park where he works. Watching him ride the rails or cruise the walkways you can almost feel his pleasure. He exhibits pure excellence at the sport and in his attitude.
Defying the Odds
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Dianna Mendez