Outcasts to Athletes: Skating narrative shifted by inclusion in summer games

Sports

EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — From 5 p.m. to nearly midnight, local skaters can be found hitting ramps and grinding rails all around Edinburg’s Bicentennial Skate Park.

“Just skate. Just Skate,” local skater Fabian Gonzalez said to a couple of friends during a casual afternoon skate session.

It really is that simple.

Most skaters flock to the crack-filled skate park to just have a good time. Others use the sport and space as a distraction or an escape.

“It’s a family here. It’s all about skaters supporting skaters. A lot of people think we are just out here wasting time,” Gonzalez said. “But no, a lot of us are running from problems and skating is that thing that brings us joy, makes us happy, and released our stresses, ya know?”

For Gonzalez, skateboarding offered a breakaway from traditional sports following a short stint playing basketball and football for Robert Vela High School. Naturally, he looked for another activity to fill his time.

“When I was younger I was really into tech decks,” Gonzalez said. “I started skating and fell in love with it. It’s my addiction.”

For years, skating was rarely seen in a positive light.

Skaters were limited to makeshift ramps assembled in backyards and alleyways, expecting little to no support from local government. Edinburg City Manager Ron Garza was a self-titled skater back in the late 1980s. He remembers the days well.

“The generation of my age, we had to secretly build these things,” Garza recalled.

Now he’s trying to help change the narrative.

In a video released by the City of Edinburg, Garza was shown chatting with local skaters, leading up to the unveiling of a brand new skatepark expected to be constructed near the current Edinburg water tower. Garza can be heard saying “I come bearing good news for local skaters” as he shows a group of kids the models for the park.

“This was one of the top three amenities our community was asking for,” Garza said. “It’s a traditional and total paradime shift from the way it was 20 years ago.”

The change in perception can be seen on the international level as well.

The 2020 summer games, featured in 2021, included two skateboarding competitions for the first time ever. Street and Park denominations were included in the summer games, allowing global skating superstars like Nyjah Huston and Leticia Bufoni to compete in the sport’s biggest state.

“I will definitely be watching,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and many others will be watching a reality no skaters before them have ever enjoyed. One outcast, skaters around the world can now be seen as nothing other than what they are…

Athletes.

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