My favorite weekend of the year is Tampa Pro weekend. For those unfamiliar to me or street skateboarding in general, Tampa Pro is one of the biggest professional skate contests out there, and takes place right here in Tampa at the Skatepark of Tampa.
I became a fan of street skateboarding 15 years ago but the contest celebrated it’s 25th year this year. So naturally all of the OGs of street skateboarding were there (P-Rod, Eric Koston, Sheckler, Greg Lutzka) alongside hella impressive up and comers like Jake Ilardi & Daisuke Ikeda.
As I arrived, I checked in and got my complimentary wristbands and hit up the shop to purchase a deck ( I will get to this more toward the end).
As I was paying for the board, the shop employee asked me if I wanted grip tape. I kindly declined as I don’t skate but was honored that he thought I was instantly that talented.
Once I got situated with the rest of my group, we watched as all the pros strolled (ran not walked really) into the park. They quickly tried to sweep in and head straight for the course (They had to get their last minute practice run in before the semi-finals began).
The first pro I spotted was Kelvin Hoefler. He tried to sneak right by but I wished him luck and he greeted me with a quick wave, a “hello and a thank you.”
The next one spotted was the man, the myth, the legend, the great and powerful Ryan Sheckler. I watched as he came in wearing earbuds and within seconds of walking in had to pose for a plethora of pictures, sign his name on boards and hats, and literally not even get to sneak anywhere without being noticed. I spotted him and his usual group as soon as they walked in (Felipe Gustavo, Torey Pudwill, Sheckler). Naturally, as soon as Ryan saw my family and I he greeted us with pleasant smiles and kindly signed my board and took a picture ( even while another little grom attempted at trying to skip the line to which Ryan replied, “Just a minute dude,”)
For those that don’t know, my love of skateboarding began with Sheckler. I actually was shown him skating over an electrical box in a two page magazine spread back in 2003-2004, and instantly was impressed. 15 years later, I am always honored to even get a few minutes in the same space as this legend. Without saying much more, I will always respect Sheckler for helping me ( a smart cookie writer) find a forever home within the skateboard community.
Overall, it was a great time had by all. Free shots, Free beer, and priceless fun!
You can witness just about any pro skater in the flesh only feet from you, and you can even walk up and talk to and take a selfie with any of the guys.
Thank you to the staff at SPOT who always treat me like a literal VIP. And thank you to every dude that stopped for five seconds to sign my board. Speaking of the board, I am happy to announce that I am currently running a giveaway where one lucky reader of this post will get to win this board
To enter, you must answer a trivia question in the comments below with your name and email below.
Congrats to the winner Carlos Ribeiro!
A huge thank you to Paul Zitzer for hooking up my family and I ( and shoutout to the will call ticket guy Gabe for giving my mom and I huge props on our matching shirts).
Always a pleasure SPOTTAMPA, see you next year!