Build It And Skateboarders Will Come

Anaina Hou’s Cherie Grousset with Kaua‘i Skate ‘Ohana members Keri Cooper, Doug Coviello, Eliza Brown, Rob Filaroski, Tim Albao, Jesse Mahorney, Todd Anderson, Mark Cooper and Dustin MacDonald. Coco Zickos photo

With Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana leading the way and the private sector offering land and support, more skateboard parks are coming to the Garden Isle

Nothing compares, says Dustin MacDonald, to the exhilaration you feel after learning a new skateboard trick.

Without places to practice, however, youths have very limited ways of legally enjoying this sense of exhilaration and achievement a fact the new nonprofit Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana wants to change.

“The adrenaline rush and feeling of accomplishment is something I like to see not only in myself, but in others,” says MacDonald, an avid skateboarder and member of the recently established nonprofit. “Skating taught me selfdiscipline and zeroed-in on my coordination. I love to see that in the kids. When I see the magic in their eyes, to me, it’s all worth it.”

By building skateparks around the island, the organization aims to create a safe and fun atmosphere for people of all ages who wish to pursue the same passion.

“Those will be the foundation for us to build camps and equipment and contests for kids in the community,” says Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana member Mark Cooper.

He and a handful of other island skateboarders are working with the county and private investors to create quality facilities. Parks in Puhi and Hanapepe are currently in the works.

In fact, a design has already been created for the community-based project in Hanapepe, and after a public meeting is held, construction is slated to begin.

A park also is under way on the North Shore. Anaina Hou’s Bill and Joan Porter have donated land for a facility to be located adjacent to Kaua’i Mini Golf in Kilauea. Funds for construction are in the process of being generated.

“They contacted us,” says Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana’s Todd Anderson of the Porters. “It’s a golden opportunity.”

It has been exciting for Tim Albao to see progress finally being made. The Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana member grew up here and knows how difficult it is to find a place to practice.

“It was rough,” he says. “There were, and still are, hardly any places to go, and the law is outdated. Bringing this to life will maybe have the laws changed. I just want to see my kids not go through what I had to in order to skate on this island. It was pretty hard. The other sports had a lot of attention, but skateboarding never really did.”

MacDonald, who also grew up on Kaua’i, says he has been attempting to make ramps available for keiki for more than 25 years.

“If I had had one, my life would have been different,” he says.

Having an 8-foot ramp in his backyard is what initially drew members of Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana together.

“I met him by knocking on his door and asking if I could use it,” says Cooper.

“It just goes to show you that there was such a need for a place to go to skate,” says Cooper’s wife Keri.

The group also hopes to break down the stereotypes associated with skateboarding.

Doug Coviello was faced with many such stereotypes growing up in Pennsylvania. He admits he did not excel in other sports, but found solace in skateboarding.

“I was enthralled. I didn’t need a team. I didn’t need a field. It was just me enjoying any pure moment I could get,” he says. “My parents weren’t against it, but they weren’t totally for it.”

But skateboarding gets kids motivated, gives them a foundation for exercise and builds character and a camaraderie among enthusiasts.

“It breaks down social barriers,” he says.

Cooper started bringing skateboarders together in 2009 by donating boards and shoes to kids at Kapa’a Skatepark.

“I wanted to give kids the opportunity to feel how I feel skateboarding,” he says. “It’s a real positive thing kids can do.”

“No one has to win or lose,” adds Anderson. “It’s just a fun thing for kids to do on this island.”

And with such a big skate scene on Kaua’i which is notably behind the times as far as establishing skateparks is concerned the need for venues is apparent.

“It’s a chickenskin feeling I get every time I see the energy of this group,” says MacDonald about the highly enthusiastic Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana. “I just feel there are great things to come out of this small group we have.”

Kaua’i Skate ‘Ohana will hold a fundraiser for the construction of the North Shore skatepark Feb. 20 from noon to 6 p.m. at Kaua’i Mini Golf in Kilauea. There is a minimum donation of $5. Visit kauaiskateohana.com for more information.

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