It has been many years now since skateboarding and its enthusiasts weaved their way into the fabric of American culture, but here in our city – thanks in part to the 3-year-old Rye Recreation Skate Park – there has been an unprecedented boom in the popularity of the alternative sport.
“The use of the Skate Park has just exploded exponentially,” said 21-year-old Spencer Padgett, an RHS graduate and one of the catalysts for the construction on the Rye Rec site. “When it was first built it seemed that only my friends and I used it, and some were skeptical about the money spent on it, but that has obviously changed.”
The park, which cost roughly $124,000 to construct, equip and fence in 2007, is put to use by a variety of Rye’s skaters – both male and female – ranging in age from elementary school children to college students. Rye Rec runs camps for beginners, with veteran skaters ready and willing to take them under their wings.
“There’s a great energy over there,” said Padgett. “Everyone is super supportive and you don’t have to worry about bullying or any of that nonsense. We help each other out, and are motivated and psyched to watch different people do their thing.”
Thirteen-year-old Michael Ruiz noted that part of the appeal of skateboarding – in contrast to classic sports like football and basketball – is that there are no coaches barking orders at you and everyone’s free to learn and practice at their own pace. According to Padgett, it’s a very personal activity in that everyone has his or her own style of skating. There are no rules or regulations in the classic sense, and no need to worry about what you can or cannot do with your board.
Jack Clark, 12, decided to give the sport a go after watching his friends practicing “cool tricks” a year ago. What he loves about skating is that there is no end to the season, as well as that unmatched feeling of learning a new trick.
There’s an obvious camaraderie among the skaters at Rye Rec, which Blind Brook students David Zaccagnino and Thomas Ferrer attribute to the friendships formed at the spot.
“It’s the most popular place to skate,” said Zaccagnino. “Everyone knows each other and you never have to worry about difficulties in dealing with the police or the locals complaining.”
When asked if there was a skater who was a cut above the rest locally, Zaccagnino and Ferrer looked at each other, hesitating for just one moment before saying, in unison, “Chris Sganga.” Sganga, a 16-year-old incoming junior at Rye High School, said the compliment made him feel good but noted that he and his friends all have their own strengths.
Sganga, a former hockey player and master of the “360 shove-it”, was quick to praise Zaccagnino as well as Rye High’s Jumba Seo and Andrew Adler as a few of Rye’s finest skaters. The next generation of greats includes Harry Parsons, Sammy Spinola and Vladik Sustido.
The Rye Rec Skate Park is open weekdays during the summer (except Tuesday) from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.