Grinding Forward: Supporters want to keep improving Tyler's skate park

Published on Friday, 24 January 2014 21:11 - Written by By Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Mike Minter’s interest in skateboarding began as a child.

He said he was “basically the loner kid” and discovered the sport through observation.

“I saw a guy skateboarding by himself, and I thought, ‘That’s kind of what I wanted to do,’” he said.

Today, the 32-year-old still practices that passion as he rides at the Noble E. Young Skate Park off Texas Highway 155.

The park, built in 1998, underwent improvements in 2007 and again within the past two years.

City of Tyler Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings said that about six months ago, the city spent nearly $15,000 on the park. She said via email that "the concrete was sanded down to smooth and polish areas then painted."

Now, goals include continuing to make improvements to the area around the park and expanding the park, Jeff Reeves, an area skateboarder, said.

He said members of the business community have expressed support, and other community members are welcome to get involved and help raise money for the park.

“We’re just trying to get support and do what we can,” he said.

Reeves said the Noble E. Young Skate Park is not only used by people in this community but by people from other areas, such as Louisiana and Austin.

“That’s great because when they come down here, they usually spend the weekend,” which means more money spent in the city on things such as hotel rooms and food, he said.

When asked what makes the park special, Minter referenced the skateboarding experience.

“It’s the most extreme passion I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s like an addiction. We think about it all day long,” Minter said.

Reeves, 50, said there also is camaraderie among skateboarders.

Minter agreed, saying, “Any skateboarder is family to us.”

For Minter, it also provides exercise and “a good way to blow off steam.”

“When I’m stressed, I go skateboarding,” he said.

In fact, Reeves said, half the time, skateboarders are more comfortable on their skateboard than walking.

“It’s just plain old fun,” he said. Minter called it “physical art.”

Andrew Terpening, a 19-year-old skateboarder, said his cousin inspired him to start skateboarding, as well as what he saw on TV and in video games. He’s been skateboarding for about a decade.

“I just really enjoy it. … It’s a blast,” he said.

As far as the park, he described it as “like a second home.”

“It’s a great place just to be with friends and family and meet people you’ve never met before,” Terpening said.

And Minter said parents shouldn’t be afraid to bring their children out to the park to try skateboarding.

“They might find a new passion. They could be the next pro on TV in five years,” he said.

“You build a whole new group of friends. You learn that everyone is different, but we’re all in the same boat.”

Geoff Partin, 20, said he is at the park often and sees people from various places.

Minter said he eventually wants to teach lessons for children who are beginners as a way to raise money for the park.

A contest also is tentatively scheduled for April. Minter said there will be no cost to watch the contest, but competitors will pay a fee.