The CURRENT Wave
Athens skateboarding has had its highs and lows throughout the decades but with many college students stepping into the scene, it is beginning to grow and shape into another wave of solid skaters.
Not only are the skateboarders in 2015 privileged to have a skate park minutes from main campus, the growth of backyard pools and mini ramps keep the skaters’ interests high.
Emmitt Covington, 18, has resided near Athens his entire life. When he was young, he would take the bus from his home to the skate park and meet up with friends. Emmitt, along his father, Dave, and brother, Caleb, recently built a mini ramp on their land.
“Ever since I built that mini ramp everyone has been trying to get together and skate… I feel like it’s thriving and Moss (the owner of Flipside skate shop in Athens) is doing a lot more with the shop now and really trying to boost his business,” said Covington.
With background ramps around Athens like the Powell bowl, Solar bowl, The Birdhouse, Emmitt’s mini ramp and more, the scene only has room to grow.
“These college kids that really get into skateboarding, they’re going to talk about skateboarding in Athens. That’s what brings people back here,” Emmitt said. “Once you come here it’s really hard to leave. I like the college scene, I like the skateboarders, most of them, unless I see someone wearing Sperry’s and short shorts skating around campus.”
Chris Walter is a student at Ohio University and has been all over the world because his dad is a Marine. “I think the skate scene here is definitely different for the fact people leave, drop out, or just don’t go to school here,” said Chris.
The ebb and flow of people passing through is inevitable living in a college town. A resident of Athens since birth, Leif Wakefield, started skating when he was 7 and was around when there were only metal and wooden ramps to skate. He was here to see the park being built, and has watched college skaters come and go for years.
Recently, Leif accepted a job as a snowboard instructor in Lake Tahoe, California, and will no longer spend his days at his home skate park.
“A lot of the times, you know, they’ll come here and start skating, then they’ll graduate and won’t leave, that’s just kind of how it goes in Athens,” said Leif. “It definitely plays a key role in the success of skating here, always having a new fresh crop rolling in every year to keep the scene alive, but I’d say it’s mainly the locals that keep it going.”
Moss Miller. His bright Hawaiian shirts can be seen from blocks away. Some know him as the father of skateboarding in Athens.
Patrick Mckenna described him as “crazy, always full of energy, but he rips and he’s almost 40.” Born in Columbus, Ohio, Moss believes that his wild roots stem from being raised on a 100-acre farm in West Virginia. “Just pretty much a child playing in the wilderness,” he said.
At the age of 10 he moved to Athens and started to skate. He grew up with the older skaters like Tracy Kitts, Craig Dransfield and Johnny Clift. “We used to make fun of Moss because he didn’t skateboard, he was just into baseball cards. I remember being shocked to hear that he was skating…meanwhile we had no idea,” said Johnny Clift.
Moss was also in his own crew and they were all progressing as skaters. When he was 15, he really wanted to be a professional skateboarder. “I was progressing, but there was no one to get me to the next level,” Moss said. He had thoughts of moving to California but never made the next move to be out there.
“I remember I would get really frustrated with it. I quit for like a week and then came back. I didn’t really care.”
For a while, Moss was determined to get sponsored, but after the session of quitting and coming back, he realized he just wanted to skate for the enjoyment. He did eventually become sponsored by S&M skate shop when he was 17. He received discounts at the shop and says that is what gave him the incentive to keep skating. S&M closed in 2000 and that’s when Moss knew he needed to open up his own shop.
On the Flipside
Moss opened Flipside Skate Shop in January of 2000 near uptown Athens. It was and still is the only skate shop in Athens. When he opened the shop, he had a wide variety of visitors and everyone who skated knew about the shop and has since seen the waves of skateboarders that make their way through Athens.
“It’s a good shop for this size of town…it’s better than some shops in different parts of the country I have lived in,” said Rich Facun, an Ohio University graduate.
Over the years, Moss has seen a pattern of skateboarders coming to his shop. Moss said that in his experience 1 out of every 10 skateboarders from every era continues to skate in Athens. He was the 1 out of 10 from his crew. “I’m the dinosaur of my era,” said Moss. Moss has been skateboarding and never stopped, unlike many of his friends or people who come through Athens for college.
“I feed off the energy, I feed off the session, I feed off the youthfulness, I feed off the hype,” he said.
When Rich came back and saw him still skating and ripping like he did 10 years ago, Moss said that his secret was to never stop. “Keep it in your life. It’s a great way to find balance and sanity. I’ve done jogging, running, nothing compares to a skate session.”
Rich Facun, who works for the Medical School at Ohio University, graduated from OU and didn’t think he would ever live here after he left in 2001. “I’m never going to get to skate that thing (the skatepark) I’ll never live there, I’ll just be passing through,” said Rich.
He spent a large chunk of time working in Virginia and just moved back to Athens in September. He is right back in the scene and welcomed by everyone. “They call me up everyday, let’s go skate and everybody was hyped to be back and riding."
“I hope to god Moss doesn’t move away, fall in love, cause he’s a big part of the scene… and he makes Athens skate scene,” said Rich. “I sometimes think ‘What if Moss leaves? What’s it going to be like then?’ I’ll be so bummed. He’s kind of like the hub who brings people together.”