In Missoula, Montana, through seemingly impenetrable concrete, love grows at the Mobash skatepark. Our local skate community is flourishing and turning into one big hardcore family. Before the park was built, skaters seemed almost homeless. Their kick flips, hard flips, pop shove-its and tail slides went unnoticed and un-stoked upon. Today, local kids have somewhere to go and get gnarly while feeling safe, encouraged, and supported. Mobash has given many roving kids a stomping ground and has unearthed a treasure trove of talent.
When I was a kid we didn’t have a skatepark to shred. My high school days (and nights) were filled with standing around the Bi-Lo parking lot. My friends and I would meet up there and remain there. We had nowhere to go. Nowadays the skatepark provides a less intrusive option for teenage congregation and while standing around isn’t going anywhere (literally) at least now the rippers in the crowd can crush skate tricks in a more hospitable environment.
Mobash is the only skatepark in town and is the sole destination for skateboard enthusiasts of any age, background, or ability. While new faces are always a welcome sight, the familiar ones – the die hards – are the ones I most enjoy seeing. Their passion, measured not by ability, but by dedication gives the park a personality and a heartbeat. Two skaters who pump more Mobash blood than anyone are Ben and his brother Edge. I love these guys. They’re being raised by their grandma, but live at the park. Ben has tons of natural ability and wicked kick flip, while Edge is teeming with skate swagger and looks like something out of a Hollywood movie. Whenever these guys show up it’s a cause for celebration and when Ben finally throws down a back tail slide and Edge nails the step-up our entire skate family will be very proud.
Last month, the 7th Annual River City Roots Festival swamped the streets of downtown Missoula. Thousands of local folks, me included, came out to eat, dance, drink and be merry. The scene was serene and I was happy to just stand around and soak it up. My five-year-old daughter, on the other hand, was not. As she tugged insatiably at my sleeve an old Willie Nelson lyric came to mind, "still is still moving to me." It seems that when satisfied where we’re at, life has the ability to slow down and become wonderful. As the inclination to roam diminishes we feel closer to home and that’s exactly what’s happening at Mobash. The park that once evoked feelings of fear and distress is now cozier. The people there who once seemed strange are now like brothers and sisters. The skatepark is growing roots and feeling more like home.
With this, the last column of the season, I’d like to give credit and recognition to The Mobash Family. So, without further adieu, big ups to Jake, Ray, Marcos, Dre, and Sarris, you’ve been wonderful interviewees. Thane, you’re super sick and rep Sentinel (my high school) very well. Ben, thanks for going to my website. Edge, you’re the best punk I know. Syd, your bag of tricks is big and getting bigger bro. Emmie, you’re our Skatepark Mom and have amazing kid(s). Austin, where have you been? Eric, you’re qualitative superiority dude. Liam, you’re a natural leader. When you rallied everyone against that belligerent bum it gave new meaning to the term gang mentality. Fe, you’re my iron. Kevin, thanks for the roll-in and Travis, thanks for being my friend on Facebook. Whoever else I forgot to mention, you can find me at the park and collect a sincere apology. I love you all.