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The Cool Factor
Westerville Magazine, January/February 2010
In 1985, Wally Carl was a 12-year-old paper boy in Westerville when he stumbled upon his lifeís passion in trash can.
The skateboard was cheap and made of plastic, but Carl rode it for a few months before he talked his father into upgrading to a better model.
"The rest is history," says Carl, now 36 and owner of Old-Skool Skateboards at 11 E. College Ave.
"I have been skateboarding ever since." Carlís shop, which has been the cityís only skate shop since opening in 2001, is the pulse of the skateboarding scene in Westerville
. Carl acts as store owner, supervisor and friend to many of the kids and young adults that frequent the shop.
When the store is closed, Carl can often be found at the cityís skate park at Schrock and West Park Meadow roads.
"I skate with most of the customers on a regular basis, and they know if I am not here that I am at one of the skate parks," Carl says.
"I think the parents feel safe with their kids here. The parents all know me well. I get phone calls from parents all the time asking if Iíve seen Johnny."
Carl has organized a variety of small skateboarding contests through the years, but earlier this year he was asked to co-promote ñ along with Westerville resident Tedd Cookerly ñ the inaugural Arnold Skateboarding Contest at the Arnold Sports Festival.
The contest will be held March 5-7 at Veterans Memorial and includes divisions for beginners, advanced skateboarders and a Top Shop Contest, which features teams from skate shops throughout the Midwest.
"I think that the Arnold Sports Festival is doing a lot of different sports, and there really wasnít a major event in Central Ohio for skateboarding in terms of a real contest," Carl says.
"I think it will be good for skateboarding and good for the festival. It will bring more people downtown for the weekend because skateboarding is definitely very popular."
Carl has seen the sport prosper since he first opened his shop. The sport has always attracted kids, and he says its reputation has been enhanced by the proliferation of video games and televised skateboarding events.
"There was always like a cool factor to skateboarding that made it appealing to people who didnít play football or baseball or anything like that," Carl says.
"Now the sport is really growing. I see new faces in here all the time. Not everybody is going to stick with it forever, but many of them will." Carl fields a team of skateboarders out of his shop that includes Phil Burton, a 17-year-old senior at Westerville South High School.
"I have been skateboarding for a long time and it is just something that I love to do," Burton says.
"I have a good time hanging out with my friends. It is just fun." Fun to Burton includes the bumps, bruises and sometimes more serious injuries associated with the sport
. He recently suffered broken ribs and a concussion in separate incidents, but he says he visits a skate park "every day that it isnít raining and I am not injured."
Assuming heís healthy, Burton will be among the competitors at the Arnold Skateboarding Contest in March.
"I am definitely excited to have a bigger opportunity for skateboarding to see some bigger names," he says. "The Arnold is a very well-known event and the fact that we are going to be in it is awesome."
Brent LaLonde is a contributing writer for Westerville Magazine.
BONUS: The Arnold Sports Festival
The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport festival in the nation, with more than 18,000 athletes competing in 44 sports and events, including 12 Olympic sports.
New in 2010 are skateboarding, amateur strongman, figure skating, amateur mixed martial arts, an art competition and a sports photography seminar.
WHEN YOU GOÖ.
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