The Northwest Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation was founded in late 2018 by skateboarders for skateboarders. The founding team includes Roy Rodezno, Wesley McDonald (owner of Stash Skate Supply), Brandon Herbert (co-founder of Gnarkansas.com), and Jonathan Camacho. We recently sat down with Roy to learn more about the organization. Check out the interview below.
Founder Roy Rodezno, President/Design & Marketing
Q: Ok Roy, let's take it from the top, why did you create the organization and what is the mission?
I've been skateboarding for 17 years. Brandon, Jonathan, and I grew up skateboarding in Northwest Arkansas; Jonathan and I used to skateboard on the same block in Rogers. We were primarily street skating because during those days the closest skatepark was in Bentonville and we didn't have a car.
Brandon Herbert, Audio Visual Director/Events Coordinator
Later on, a skate shop came to Rogers, and that is where all of the local skateboarders would go hang out. I remember when we started attending city meetings when they were considering adding the Rogers skatepark and saying, 'We want this park; we need it.' And it worked, we got it.
We had a lot of skaters back in the day. You'd go to the skatepark, and it would be crowded. Now, not so much. Compared to my generation, it seems like the number of skaters has diminished quite a bit.
Local Competition in 2012
Recently, I've been seeing and hearing from other skaters that there isn't support for skateboarding; it's all going toward biking. But that's because people are pushing for that. For years now, I've been hearing things like 'Man, I wish we had a new park' from people in Fayetteville. If you go there, there are cracks. In Bentonville, skateboarders are expressing the same frustrations. If we had an organized voice for skateboarding, we could probably achieve the same thing as the cycling community.
All that together kinda just brewed in my head and popped up as: 'We need an organization that can represent skateboarders as a whole.' We want to represent current and future skaters.
The mission is to grow and support skateboarding in Northwest Arkansas. To organize and to show people that we're serious. This is who we are, and we are here for the long run.
Q: In the short-term, what are your plans?
One of the first things we wanted to do is launch a skateboarding competition. Every now and then there are competitions, but once they are over, everyone is left wondering what's next. We thought: 'What if, instead, we did multiple stops and a final for the crown?' That's when we landed on the idea for the Arkansas Crown, Arkansas' first skateboarding championship competition. There were a lot of skaters I talked to who believed that that would be cool, that they would be interested in it.
Anthony Dezaldivar Longest Ollie at Bentonville Crown Stop
So, we planned six stops: five competitions and then the final. Four of the stops are located within the region, one in Fort Smith and one in Little Rock. We had the first one on May 25th, 2019 at the Bentonville Skatepark. It was an excellent turnout, a lot of people came out. The next stop in Northwest Arkansas will be on August 11th in Fayetteville, you all should come check it out.
NWASF Arkansas Crown Skateboarding Championship // Stop 1: Bentonville // Highlights
There was this guy that competed in Bentonville, 19 years old named Niccy. I believe he just started skating last year. It was his first competition ever, and he got first place in the beginner's competition. He was like: 'Man, this was the first one; I've never done this before.' That's skateboarding: it makes you try things you have never tried before. It pushes you to go outside your limits. And if you fail, you fail. But then you get back up and try it again—the same goes in life. This is what it is all about.
Niccy's boardslide at Bentonville Crown Stop
Q: Skateboarding for life?
Yes. Look, we all have things going on in our lives. Whether it's family problems, addiction issues, or things like that. A lot of us skateboard to vent that—redirect and channel that energy. I know I did. I made skateboarding my life, and during any negative times I would tell myself: "Skate for life," and that would help me refocus and overcome.
Q: Can you share more about that personal experience?
When I was younger, I got in trouble. Just dumb stuff. I fell into depression, and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was. In truth, it was a lot of things. Around that same time, my parents got divorced. It was tough, and I had a lot of anger built up, but skateboarding was always there. I would go skate, and I would feel better. Ultimately, the skateboarding mentality just kicked in, and I said: 'OK, what's the problem?' That's what you do in skateboarding. You're not accomplishing a particular thing; it's not going right over and over. So you think to yourself, what are you doing that's wrong? Why isn't my board doing what I want it to do? It may take a few times to figure it out, but eventually, you figure it out. And that's how I started getting back on track. It's because of skateboarding. That problem-solving, motivation, self-discipline, and persistence that skateboarding requires helped me get back on the right path.
Yes, we are grinding, jumping off stairs and stuff, but we are focused. Once a skateboarder sets their mind on a trick, they'll try anything to pull it off. And that keeps their mind off of other things, other patterns that may get them in trouble. That is the underlying thing about skateboarding not many people consider, the impact it has on a person. It really makes you self-disciplined and self-motivated, goal-oriented and a creative problem-solver 'cause you're fighting against physics: 'Maybe I can pull my foot back; less pressure this way.'
Wesley McDonald, Events Director/Content Curator
We know there are kids out there going through some of the same things we, as an older generation, have been through. So, definitely mentoring is part of what we'd like to do. As an organization, we want to be there to tell them: 'Keep skating, dude. I've been there. It gets better. Just keep your mind positive'. Programs like that are gonna help us all stay connected.
Q: Other than events and mentorship, are there other ways you want to get people engaged?
Yes. This was just our way to get our foot in the door and show who we are. Our most ambitious goal is our campaign to raise $500,000 for a new, state-of-the-art skatepark, located near the Razorback Greenway, with unique modern obstacle levels of street/transition to not only challenge skaters but also upgrade from our older existing parks that are falling apart. It would be cool, you know, you walk on the trail and see this natural skate garden. Right now, our parks are outdated in terms of the obstacles. But imagine if you had more creative obstacles—if you had something that challenged skaters more. Skateboarding is now included in the Olympics, Tokyo 2020. We believe with the proper facility, we could have one of Northwest Arkansas' own compete in the Olympics.
Ultimately, we would also like to have back-to-school and Christmas drives to collect donations of gear and shoes for youth. With skateboarding, you go through your shoes, clothes, and boards a lot. We don't just want to inspire kids, we want to keep them skating.
Q: Anything else you want to say about skateboarding or skateboarders in the region?
Jonathan Camacho (Construction Director/Content Editor) and son
Beyond the board, I would point out two things. One, there is a strong case to be made that skate parks are a good economic development tool for cities. Skateboarders are travelers at heart. Nice skate parks would bring in folks from beyond the region. Many of us from Northwest Arkansas head to neighboring states like Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas to skate their parks and now, when I go there, I take my twins and wife, so we usually shop, buy food and gas, and get a hotel. And two, skaters tend to have an entrepreneurial/self-starter mindset, which also has an economic impact on the community with many of us having started or starting local businesses.
Bentonville Crown Winners
There are so many different types of skateboarders out there. Overall, it's a socially diverse and accepting group of people. Whenever I first brought my wife to skating, one of the first things she said she noticed is that we're all supportive of each other. You may not know me, and I may not know you, but if you're trying a tough trick or any trick and you're struggling to do it and need that motivation, it's just like automatic—you just cheer them on. All skaters seem to have similar traits: they have an open mind, they are self-motivated and goal-oriented. So you'll see people of different races, backgrounds, ages because it really doesn't matter. Once you're there at the skatepark with your board, eventually you just become like family.