It’s my favorite time of year. It’s Tampa Pro season y’all. Urethane wheels on concrete. Free beer. Open bar. Pro skaters so close you can ask them for a selfie. The buzzing of a tattoo needle mixed with old school hip-hop.
I am no stranger to Tampa Pro. I have been attending since 2006 but am well aware Skatepark of Tampa has been helping the local Tampa community have a safe space to be completely themselves since 1993.
Back in 2006, I went to Skatepark of Tampa for the first time that March. At that time, Tampa Pro was still a homegrown event. So all they had out back was a hot dog cart and a cooler with drinks. No open bar sponspored by Monster Energy. No vendor tents. It was very local and for the locals still but you could sense that something was building the platform when Rob Dydrek decided to shoot his indie film about skateboarding for skateboarders, “Street Dreams” right there later in 2006.
Back in 2006, I was just starting to get into skateboarding. I didn’t realize the gravity of what Tampa Pro meant to the skateboarding world and barely knew any pros when I was there as I was a newbie enthusiast at that time but I definitely knew Ryan Sheckler was going to blow up and become a household name in skateboarding as well as pop culture. Look at that cute young face. It was made for reality tv.
But the surreal moments I had at Tampa Pro in 2006, led me to come back for another year in 2007 where I met Jereme Rogers. I mean, he left skateboarding to forge a rap career but in this day and time, Jereme Rogers was one of the top in the sport.
From here, I took about 3 years off Tampa Pro because I was kind of focused on other things, and also wanted to make sure I really liked skateboarding for skateboarding, and not just because I had a long-term crush on one of the professionals.
Turns out, my love was with skateboarding and not with that young man who ended up marrying someone else so I returned to Tampa Pro in 2010.
Look at young T-Puds.
Look at Nyjah back when he had dreads…
2010 was when Chaz Ortiz was on top of his game…don’t know why I never see him at the Pro anymore but he needs to come out.
2010 Chris Cole who came back out and skated the contest this year. Can you believe it?
The last Tampa Pro I seen Mr. Sheckler at was 2019 but he’s building his own board company now. Told you he would be a household name and a pop culture icon.
As you can see from the previous collage…each year that I’ve ever come out to Tampa Pro has been a good vibe and a good time and this year was no exception.
The first pro I spotted this year was Chris Cole which had me hyped since I haven’t seen him at the Pro in a few years although I believe in 2021 or 2022, he was a judge of the contest instead of a competitor.
When you walked into the event this year, they gave out a gift bag for the 30 year celebration. It was a nice assortment of stuff.
From here, my guest and I decided to grab a drink and just explore the courtyard.
Here’s some cool shots from Friday’s practice.
One thing you will always see is the skaters all joking and bonding with one another. I’ve rarely ever seen one pro show animosity to one another, only love and comraderie.
All in all, visiting Skatepark of Tampa is always a good time, good vibes, and an all around good experience. You learn so much about your local community, and you witness a community that loves and supports all people. And that’s definitely one I can get behind.
Congratulations Skatepark of Tampa on 30 years! That’s amazing. You and I are almost the same age.
Must have been a divine connection for sure. Thanks for always hooking me up with surreal moments, unforgettable interactions with pros and amateurs alike, and for always allowing me to be completely myself in a world that outside those warehouse walls is harsh, hard, and increasingly very very pressing. Love you guys. Thanks for allowing me to carpe fucking diem!