Tag Archives: Encinitas YMCA Skatepark

Shaun White Finds Inspiration at YMCA Skatepark

Shaun White at the YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA credit: ESPN Magazine

“I’ve been coming here since I was six.  I’d beg my parents to take me and they’d eventually drop me off for a couple of hours. I skated every day at this park. I learned all my tricks here. It’s my inspiration.” Shaun White on YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA as quoted in ESPN Magazine, 2008

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See Related Post: Homeboy Shaun White Wins Gold!

by Lydia Breen

ENCINITAS, CA. Shaun White isn’t the only pro to skate at the Ecke YMCA Skatepark,  but he and Tony Hawk are surely the most  famous.  Many of the world’s best skaters have honed their skills here, skating side-by-side with kids as young as five, some even younger.      The entire sport has been enriched by the interaction in Encinitas between skaters of varying abilities.   In 1995 Tony Hawk took a talented nine year-old Shaun White under his wing.  Other local skaters surely helped White advance, including Mike McGill who invented the McTwist. in 1986.  Twenty-four years later at Vancouver, White seconded McGill’s act with a Double McTwist 1260, nailing his reputation for skating the half-pipe heads over, under, around and through the competition.   (For the science of Shaun, see this clip on:  “The Double Cork.” another of new trick White had up his sleeves at the Olympics.  For great videos of snowboarding tricks see this link. )

Shaun at 18 Credit: Shaunwhiteonline.org

How does White manage to get so much air out of the pipe? Mike Wilson, co-manager at the Ecke YMCA Skatepark, ventures a guess: “I think his pumping technique helps him reach those heights. The way he bends down and positions his legs. When he’s pumping, he’s putting a lot more effort into it…He lands tricks like they’re nothing.”

White goes heads above the competition Credit: wiwi.tv

To see how Shaun gets so much air, see: 60 Minutes segment about Shaun White and Tony Hawk doing tricks at the YMCA Skatepark.  (See also cool photos from that shoot)

Mike Wilson was a 15-year-old street course skater, entering competitions around Encinitas, when Shaun White was just coming up in the sport. “At first he couldn’t do an Ollie or a kickflip,” explains Wilson.  “But he got good real fast. His progression was so good – faster than anybody else.”

Mike Wilson, co-manager, Encinitas YMCA Skatepark (foreground) as a young skater, Caleb Van Neil, watches Paul-Luc Ronchetti, a skater to keep your eyes on in up-coming competitions.

Could White’s skateboarding skills have helped him win the Gold in snowboarding at Vancouver?   Wilson thinks it’s likely:  “You learn to be more technical when you have to land on wheels…”

(For Shaun White’s own comments on his altitude see this link. )

Homeboy Shaun White talks to kids at YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA Photo credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

During the summer White takes a break from snowboarding.  That’s when you might find him at the Encinitas YMCA, where he is able to shed his superstar status, relax and be treated pretty much like everyone else.    “He’s a really nice guy,” says Wilson, who explains that the young skaters think it’s normal to share the park with so many well-known pros.

YMCA skatepark instructor, Sammy Lee, shows how it's done.

“I think Shaun has good memories here. He grew up skating here.  When he comes, it probably makes him feel like he’s a kid again.” - Mike Wilson, co-manager Ecke YMCA Skatepark, Encinitas, CA.

Mike Wilson eyes new crop of talent a day after homeboy Shaun White won the gold at Vancouver Credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

Wilson’s first job at the Y came in 2002 when he got a summer job at the skatekpark.  By 2008, he was co-manager, along with Heather Randant.  The job fits him like a glove: “I really can’t imagine doing anything else.  What job could possibly be better than this?”

San Diego County is said to be the skateboarding capital of the universe and the Encinitas YMCA Skatepark sits at the center of this world.  Skaters have moved here from afar – Brazil, England, the east coast – just to hone their skills at this park.

Annika Vriklan is a dedicated skater at YMCA in Encinitas Credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

Mike Wilson is a gifted, generous teacher who is glad to share what he has learned from years of street course skating:  “I feel like I get the sport. I’m happy to spread that knowledge with the kids here.”

Caleb Van Neil gets pointers from a pro Photo credit: Lydia Breen

Caleb Van Neil gets pointers from former pro Neal Mims Photo credit: Lydia Breen

Lesson accomplished Photo credit: Lydia Breen