Learning to Skateboard with SpockAug 03, 2016 10:18AM ● By Bryan Scott
Spock addresses his students, reiterating the need for and expectation of patience, practice and respect. —Billy Swartzfager
By Billy Swartzfager / [email protected]
Sandy, Utah - At Spock’s Skate Camp, kids not only learn to ride a skateboard, they learn respect, self-confidence and determination. Spock, his real name is Eric Uequillas, though Spock is what everyone calls him, runs a skateboard camp for youth every day of the week, all over the valley. He and coaches are in Sandy at Lone Peak Park on Friday mornings. In conjunction with Sandy City’s Parks and Recreation Department, Spock’s camp has been around since 2003, serving kids who have grown up participating each and every summer since Spock took over. And, Spock, who has been skateboarding for close to forty years, says that keeping kids on a skateboard into adulthood is part of his job, “If we can get kids to stay skating until they are adults, we have done our jobs.”
He cherry picks his fellow coaches, from old pals to local skateboarders with kids who are passionate about the sport. Passion is a description used often when Spock and his coaches talk about the camp. “Skateboarding was good to me, it is still good to me. I want to give back by sharing my passion for it and this camp has a great message,” long time coach and experienced skater, Dave Warne says. His daughter, who is six, participates in the camp, skating alongside kids much larger with no fear, only respect.
Spock splits the kids up into skill groups. There are beginners and intermediate skaters. But in both groups kids are encouraged to try new things and keep trying if they don’t succeed. “One of my biggest take aways from this, and hopefully for the kids too, is taking hits and falls and getting back up again,” Spock said, “Life is hard, but you have to keep getting back up.”
The kids do agree with Spock’s approach, as do parents. “It provides my kids with a safe environment to push themselves and develop their confidence,” Brad Fuller, a parent of triplets who are in the camp, says. His children are participating for the second year in row, and plan to return next year. The coaches are interactive and consistently focus on growth, another approach Spock takes, and he chooses coaches who think the same way. “They push you to do new things,” ten year old Ella Fuller says when asked about why she liked Spock’s program. Her brother Jack agrees, “Instead of just telling you what to do, they show you,” he said.
Safety is also a major area of concentration for the kids and the coaches. The skate park is closed to the public for the two hour sessions, giving the youth the opportunity to explore the environment with their coaches and peers. They spend a lot of time learning the etiquette of the park as well. When Spock gathers all of the participants for announcements or redirection, all of the kids and coaches can be heard repeating his shout outs about the park belonging to everyone, and respecting the skill levels of everyone around, as well as the constant mantra of practice, practice, practice.
Sandy resident, Sarah Petersen says her eight year old son, Gavin, took a lot away from the camp. She said that Gavin was timid at first, but the camp has been great for his confidence. Gavin certainly looked to be confident as he cruised through the hills and obstacles of the skate park. “I like going down the hills,” he said.
The camps last four weeks, with two hour sessions once a week, and cost 65 dollars. Spock works with local skate shops to provide the kids with swag and cool stickers for their boards, a must for any young skateboarder. It is obvious from a distance that Spock loves what he is doing, and even more so when asked about it. “I am having a great time, I love working with these kids and their absorbent minds,” he says.
The next camp sessions begin in early August and more information can be found on Spock’s website, spocksskatecamp.com