Amateur skateboarder credits family and drive for recent national collegiate competition win
- Aug. 24, 2012
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Garrett Rathbone casually strolls onto the pavement at Centennial Park’s skatepark, located near the corner of Sixth Street and Rockledge Road, skateboard in hand and friends lagging behind. He drops his skateboard onto the ground, places one foot on the board and effortlessly glides around, greeting a few of the two-dozen people already at the park.
It’s a Saturday morning, and Rathbone, a senior from McPherson, is doing what he usually does at this time — he’s on his board, practicing.
Rathbone’s skateboarding career began when he was 10 years old and saw a halfpipe in his uncle’s backyard. Twelve years later, Rathbone is an amateur skateboarder with three sponsors: Perfect Skateboards, Vox Footwear and White Chocolate Skate Shop. He has received first, second or third place at more than 30 competitions throughout the U.S.
Earlier this month, Rathbone won the Alt Games National College Skateboarding Championship in Huntington Beach, Calif., beating out 24 other collegiate skateboarders.
Rathbone qualified first in preliminaries at the Alt Games on Aug. 3, gaining the advantage to skate last in the finals. Each skater was allowed 10 attempts to land tricks in the finals, and the judges scored their five best tries.
“We got graded on consistency and the hardness of the tricks landed,” Rathbone said. “There’s this thing called a ‘kickflip backside boardslide.’ Once I landed that in the finals, I had it down. That’s my trick that if I land it, I know that I’m skating fairly well.”
Rathbone credits his family, especially his father, Gary, with supporting his skateboarding career. Rathbone’s hometown did not have a skatepark when he began skating, so Gary who works in construction, built his son a ramp. Now several ramps, three handrails, two sets of stairs and a pyramid consume the Rathbone’s backyard. And it was Gary who encouraged his son to enter the national collegiate competition.
“I watched the competition last year, and I knew he could win. The other kids are college kids who skateboard. Garrett is a skateboarder who goes to college,” Gary Rathbone said. “He lives for it. And I could tell. I could tell he would win.”
Rathbone’s roommate, Alec Smith, a junior from Paola, met Rathbone two years ago Centennial Park. They have been skating together ever since.
“We come nearly everyday,” Smith said. “We try to, anyway. Some days we’re not feeling it, but most days we are. We come even if we don’t feel like it sometimes.”
Even with a full-time job and graduation in sight,he will continue to skate a few hours a day, seven days a week.
“Skateboarding is fun. I’m going to skate until it doesn’t get fun anymore,” he said. “Skateboarding is independent, and I like that. It’s cool relying on yourself and taking orders from yourself. But it’s also very communal, and sometimes it’s just fun bombing hills, riding down the street, skating as fast as possible with your friends, about to eat crap if you hit a rock and not caring.”
Gary and Sharon Rathbone still get nervous when they watch their son compete. However, Rathbone’s parents now watch from their living room television rather than the sidelines of a skatepark. They said they would continue to encourage their son’s skateboarding however long and far he goes
“I think he can go quite a ways,” Gary said. “It’s always been the most important thing in his life.”
— Edited by Allison Kohn