'Something you accomplished'
Skateboarders spend summer taking spills, looking for places to skate

By Daniel Silliman


There's this one kid who's skateboarded for 10 years.

He's kind of a myth: None of the seven skateboarders messing around in Jonesboro on Thursday afternoon have ever actually met him, this hero-skateboarder. One of them said he heard the guy got in trouble for jumping his skateboard off the roof of a restaurant over by the mall.

"Ten years!" said one of the skateboarders.

The seven ranged in age from 13 to 16, and they all had skateboards. The oldest of the group, 16-year-old Michael Gavin, has been skateboarding for about three years. The newest skater, the one who doesn't quite have the skater-style assembled, who has a board, but not the skater shoes, or the hat, said he started about six months ago.

"Ten years?" said Mark Shacklock, a shirtless 15-year-old who was standing there, thinking about that kid who supposedly snuck up on top of a restaurant with his skateboard, jumped off and then got caught.

"Wouldn't that mean, like, he started when he was 4?"

The others laughed, like they weren't sure if Shacklock was trying to destroy the story, or make it even better.

They didn't seem to care, though. They have their myths -- getting profiled in Thrasher Magazine, getting sponsorships, landing a 360 hardflip, girls -- but with the reality of the length of a school-free, summer day, the myths didn't really matter that much.

Tyler Hipp -- a fresh gash bloody on his elbow -- said mostly, they were just looking for somewhere to skate.

"You get kicked out everywhere," said Hipp, a 15-year-old from Jonesboro.

"They always say they're going to throw you in jail," said Greg Morton, 13. "Even though they're not."

Morton said he's been kicked out of pretty much every place in Morrow. He said he got kicked out of a plus-size women's clothing store, the other day. Shacklock, the loudest of the seven, bragged that he can't even go to the movies anymore.

They were all lolling up Church Street on Thursday afternoon, lingering in the shade of a tree, looking for a place to skate. They stopped in the parking lot, at the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, behind the sign saying "WORSHIP PARKING." They took turns jumping off the ledge, spilling into the street. They tried out new tricks, showed off old ones -- jumping over things, spinning, landing on their feet.

"I like every new move," said Andres Gibson, a 15-year-old from Morrow. "It's a challenge. Every new move you make, when you land it, you're like, 'Yeah!' That's something you accomplished."