Since the birth of the X Games in 1994, action sports athletes have become more accepted in the traditional sports world. It seems that many young athletes are hoping one day to be the next action star, like Tony Hawk, Dave Mirra, Kelly Slater, Shaun White or Travis Pastrana. Skateboarder Reese Forbes has witnessed first-hand the growth of action sports, from obscurity to ever-increasing popularity. STACK sat down with Reese to catch some details about the evolution of action sports and his transition to the professional realm.
STACK: You've been skating professionally for most of your life. Tell us how you first got involved in the sport.
Reese Forbes: I grew up on the East Coast, in Maryland, and my mom bought me a skateboard when I was about nine years old. When I stepped onto that board, it was like I knew right then that's what I wanted to do. I started to take skating seriously [when I was] 15 or 16. That's when I started to take everything to the next level.
STACK: What did your family think when you told them you wanted to be a pro skater?
RF: My mom was busy trying to take care of other things and be supportive. My grandfather was really doubtful. I think he thought that it wouldn't work out at all. I was really just having fun with it until [I was] about 17 or 18. I started getting hooked up, and I thought, "Well, maybe I can do something and get sponsored and make something happen." That's when things started to click a little bit, and that's when people started to see and say, "Okay, maybe something is going to happen with this."
STACK: What was it like turning pro as a teen and moving to the West Coast?
RF: I was about 17 when I moved from Maryland to Costa Mesa [California] with my friend, Dan Wolfe. I picked him up in Philly, and we drove [across] together, and that was a pretty big deal. We lived there for two years, and it was pretty crazy. When I got to Costa Mesa, I blew my knee out, and I thought everything was kind of over. It was interesting and difficult at the same time; the [East and West Coasts] are so different. It took some getting used to.
STACK: You're known for your ability to pull off some pretty big Ollies. What other tricks do you like to perform?
RF: I really like just rolling down hills and cruising around. I actually like just riding on a skateboard; that's probably my favorite thing to do. There's no pressure. I like flopping up curbs…grinding rails, just keeping it moving through the city. That's why I loved skating in New York and San Francisco, because you can actually roll around there and travel ground and skate.
STACK: Did you ever get into competitions and events like that?
RF: I don't really enter contests any more. I kind of toyed with it a little bit, but I never enjoyed it. Even when I was 18 and out there doing it all the time, I still hated skating contests. I'd get nervous, and I kind of have a problem with the judging and critiquing of people's skateboarding. I have a difference of opinion there, but maybe that's because I never did well [laughs].
STACK: What's the biggest change that you've seen with skating, and how has it changed in the eyes of others?
RF: In Southern California, there are a lot of soccer/skate moms and parents. It almost seems obvious that their kid is their meal ticket, [and] they push them to do well because they have some talent. I just hate to see that bleed into what this sport is, because I don't think that's the right thing to do.
STACK: What advice can you offer young kids who are beginning to skate seriously?
RF: Just be a fan of skateboarding and love what you're doing. That's the first thing. The minute you start to lose that and concentrate on contests too early and get sponsors too early, it can spiral out of control. With that comes some decision-making, and that can lead you down the wrong road early. There are a lot of people out there [who are] trying to make a buck off skateboarding, and it gets a little dangerous. My advice would be to keep the people that you trust around and just enjoy what you are doing.
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