Skateboarding serves as an outlet for millions across the world and can often bridge gaps between generations, races, nationalities and religions. Recognized as an Olympic sport in 2020, its impact extends into almost every community, no matter how small.

by Brian Knapp

There are virtually no limits to where man can go with a piece of concaved plywood, four polyurethane wheels and a little imagination. Skateboarding has weaved in and out of the human experience for nearly three quarters of a century now, and the sport remains as timeless today as it was when it first debuted as a means for California surfers to amuse themselves on days when waves were flat. From their Pacific Coast ingenuity grew an entire subculture that branched out to other areas and eventually reached all corners of the globe. They brought terms like “ollie,” “kickflip” and “boardslide” into the human lexicon and made household names out of skaters like Tony Hawk and Rob Dyrdek.

Inside that world, Jesse Aaron forged his identity. He was introduced to skating by his stepfather in 1993 while still in the beginning stages of adolescence.

Sawyer Bourdeaux

“He encouraged it. My mom? Not so much,” Aaron said. “She actually told me that I would never skateboard as long as I lived in her house, and I do attribute her telling me that to me going into it—100%.” Aaron’s mother had reasons to be cautious. “She had a friend who had a son back when jump ramps were really popular, and he was trying to show out and got all jacked up,” Aaron said. “He was in a body cast and everything, so she was like, ‘No, that’s not happening to you.’ But my dad’s boards were there, so I would just go skate on them.” 

Aaron’s mother, like so many others, had to bite the boys-will-be-boys bullet.

“She knew I was doing it,” he said. “She just didn’t approve of it. She wouldn’t stop me from doing it, but she would be like, ‘You know you’re going to get hurt.’” It was not long before those words proved prophetic. “Funny story,” Aaron said. “I was in seventh grade, and I went up the hill from my mom’s house and rode down. Well, I didn’t know at the time that you better make sure your trucks are tight to the board. So I’m bombing the hill—I’m 12, maybe 13—and I get a speed wobble and break my collarbone.” Aaron walked home to find his mother on the phone talking to the very same friend whose son wound up in a body cast. “I said, ‘Mom, I think I broke my arm,’ and she’s like, ‘Haha, yeah.’ I sit down on the floor and the pain really starts to kick in, and I’m like, ‘Get off the phone. I broke my arm.’ She told the friend, ‘Let me call you back.’” 

“I enjoy the freedom of it.”

Justin Montgomery

It marked the start of Aaron’s love-hate relationship with the pavement. He put aside his chosen pastime when his youngest son, Kaydon, was born, but it was never far from his heart. “I’ve always had a board,” Aaron said. “There’s never been a time in my life since I’ve started that I didn’t have a board in my possession.” Fate intervened, as it often does. Aaron’s oldest son, Daniel, started to show an interest in skating around the age of 13. The video game life had grown stale, and the kid inside Aaron was reborn—or reawakened. Within three months, he had ramps, rails and boxes in his driveway, and off they went. Now in his 40s, Aaron opened Born Again Board Shop in Conyers in October 2022. His clientele could not be more diverse. 

“Man, I get them all,” Aaron said. “I get the beginner kid all the way up to … I have a buddy I skate with who’s 56.” 

Newton County, meanwhile, jumped on the bandwagon a few years ago with the opening of a new skatepark—a ramp and rails were only the beginning—at Denny Dobbs Park on Ga. 212. It has since been expanded to include a drop pool and draws enthusiasts of all ages and all walks of life. Aiden Urla,
a 16-year-old junior at Alcovy High School, pays the park frequent visits.

“I skate to hang with my friends,” Urla said. “I like doing what I do. It makes me happy.”

Justin Montgomery, 30, can relate.

Kameren Keele
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“I enjoy the freedom of it,” said the Covington native and married father of one, with another on the way. “There aren’t really any rules to how you need to go about it. Everybody has their own style. One of the best things about it is when you try a trick for hours and finally land it. It’s one of the best feelings you will ever get; and you can’t forget about the friendships you make. They will last a lifetime.”

sonny roberts

A plumber by trade, Aaron skates as a form of release.

“If I have a really bad day, I can go skate and it’s going to be all right,” he said. “Even if I go out there and get wrecked, it’s going to be all right because that lets me know I’m still alive. It’s just you and this piece of wood with wheels on it, and it’s just peace.” 

Click here to read more stories by Brian Knapp.

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