Fixing his eyes on the large expanse of cement, Lane Jariz planted his feet on his skateboard and launched himself, sailing through the air, arms outstretched and board tilted towards the sky. Navigating wind and time while maneuvering around the younger children, Jariz, 19, landed perfectly, inspiring flinches from a group of nearby adults while garnering approving nods from the surrounding teenagers at McKinney’s newly opened Gabe Nesbitt Community skate park. Here is the ultimate skater’s playground.

Gabe Nesbitt Community Park

Photo by Branden Kacir

He explains, “McKinney skate park is awesome. I have been to most of the other parks in this area, and this skate park is not only closest to my house, it’s the best one because of its cool vibe, great bowls and the overall atmosphere. I go there at least every other day – I would go every day, if I could.”

In development since 2011, McKinney’s skatepark is long awaited, and many residents are ‘stoked.’ The skate park showcases three acres and 30,000 square feet of concrete bowls, ramps and rails, including a ‘snake run,’ a long narrow path flanked by banks channeling the skater through the structure. Among the unique features are its eye-catching “skate-able” art structure found near the entrance, and a replica swimming pool for skimming and sliding the ‘deck’. The park also offers a multi-level bowl, aptly named the “Cotton Bowl,” in reference to the City of McKinney’s history as a cotton farming region. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, the park provides skating, scootering and inline bliss.

 

Christian Washington, McKinney resident, former professional inline skater for the Aggressive Skater Association and now owner of Paramount Strength and Conditioning notes, “The McKinney skate park is my favorite place to skate because it is more of an ‘old school’ skate park design, which is a good thing. It offers two levels to skate, and the bowls are higher on the hill, while the street obstacle ledges are lower. This type of design allows the skater to lace together several different tricks starting at the top and then continuing on through the bowls. For me, it’s an excellent physical and creative outlet. It’s very cool.”

Gabe Nesbitt Community Park

Photo by D.J. Segler

Planning for the skate park’s design was uniquely achieved. The City of McKinney reached out to the community and collected input from a group of middle and high school students and skaters, combining their ideas into the overall plans. Through this collaborative process, the City created a park to cater to skaters of all ages and accommodate all skill levels, whether a ‘newbie’ or an expert, while providing a comfortable place for parents and spectators. The park even includes shade structures throughout, protecting both skaters and onlookers from the hot, Texas sun.

Jariz continues, “The park is definitely a community environment where everyone is supported and welcomed. No one is there to put anyone down or hold them back. You see people of all ages – little kids who you’d be surprised can even stand on a board and ‘older folks,’ maybe even in their thirties, who are skating and doing their best. I see lots of parents busting out their old skateboards and cruising around with their kids. There’s definitely a community feel.”

 

Washington continues, “There is something for everyone here. Diversity is key. Whether you drop into a bowl and then skate around the park or segue into the pool – there are beginner, intermediate and advanced obstacles, so everyone can benefit. Veterans are able to do their thing while still allowing beginners to get their feet wet with street obstacles and get a turn.”

Gabe Nesbitt Community Park

Photo by D.J. Segler

While inline skates, skateboards and scooters are allowed in the park, BMX bikes are not permitted. Jack Segler, 13, and his friends enjoy the park for scootering and appreciate not having to compete with bikers for space. He notes, “I like the size of the park and think it’s more fun than some of the other parks I’ve visited. McKinney’s skate park has a separate section for scooters, which is also pretty cool. I love practicing my tricks, and my friends and I like it there because the other kids are really encouraging.”

“I’m thrilled they have a safe place to skate,” says Julie Segler, Jack’s mom. “There are lots of parents at the park with their children, and occasionally, there are entire families out skating. It’s a really nice addition to the neighborhood.”

Whether skater or spectator, the word is out that the park has the right flow and challenge to keep skaters of all levels coming back for more.

 

How to Start Skateboarding

So – you want to learn how to skateboard, but don’t know where to start? Are you afraid of falling on your backside and embarrassing yourself? Don’t stand on the sidelines! Following are a few beginner tips and tricks to get you started at the skatepark.

Skateboarding is a mental sport – If you are constantly worrying and inside your head, you will psych yourself out of skating at all. Don’t let that happen. As soon as you arrive, pick an easy obstacle and do some work. Jump into the flow and do the tricks you can do.

Show up early – Because fewer people are at a skatepark in the mornings, it’s the best time to practice.

Master your craft – To become accomplished in anything you do, you must practice. Don’t try to master all of the tricks at once. Pick two or three solid tricks and nail them. Then move on to others.

Have fun – Taking skateboarding too seriously can destroy its beauty. It’s not about getting noticed or getting paid. Skating is about loving the sport, being creative and having fun. If you fall down, get back up and try again. Face your fears and have some fun along the way

Skateboarding Safety – Like other sports activities, skateboarding has risks. Vehicle traffic, trick riding, and excessive speed can lead to collisions, loss of control, and falls. Even experienced riders have been injured and killed.

Take knowledge to the extreme and visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to review tips for safer riding at cpsc.gov.

Gabe Nesbitt Community Park   Gabe Nesbitt Community Park

Photo by Branden Kacir

 

Photo by Branden Kacir

About the author: Carolyn Cameron is the owner of Cameron Communications, a marketing, business writing, and social media firm. Contact her at cameronviolet@gmail.com.