Archive for category: Misc
So, I’m not sure what was happening here. This pelican was fishing behind Aunt Kate’s down in St. Augustine, minding his own business and this other little guy just flew in and sat right down on his back. Then he went for a little ride, just chilling. The pelican didn’t mind a bit. #water taxi #commuters #share-a-ride #partybus
If you could have your dream job, what would it be? Is it safe to assume it might revolve around surfing? Would you desire it to include heavy doses of travel and adventure, allowing you to surf the world’s best waves in exotic destinations? Would playing a role in helping others realize some of their own dreams help top things off?
Most people never get to live their dreams, because they don’t pursue them. Others, like Bryan Pohlman, do, precisely because they make it a point. His job, as Global Sales Consultant for Waterways Travel, the world’s largest surf travel agency, is a veritable Endless Summer.
In fact, the parallels between Bruce Brown’s iconic surf film, which celebrated the virtues of travel, wonder and discovery by following two surfers–Mike Hynson and Robert August–as they chased summer around the world, and Pohlman’s own life and career, are uncanny.
Pohlman not only spent a significant part of his career shaping boards for August, but also constructing a life to satisfy the deep wanderlust within him and the DNA of pretty much all surfers, that Brown’s film so beautifully conveyed. Indeed, the film’s concept was born at the suggestion of a travel agent who informed Brown that a flight from LA to Cape Town, South Africa and back would cost $50 more than a trip circumnavigating the globe. This inspired Brown’s idea to make the film about chasing summer around the world and to call it Endless Summer.
Pohlman, who began his career with Air New Zealand and also worked for Quiksilver Travel, has surfed in multiple locations around the world this past year alone, all while collecting a paycheck and helping others pursue their own endless summers. I caught up with Bryan to gain some insight about his professional journey, and his current dream job at Waterways.
Tell me a little bit about Waterways, and your own career timeline.
Waterways is the largest surf-travel agency in the world. We’ll be celebrating our 21st anniversary in 2015. I’ve personally been in the travel business since 1996. I started at Air New Zealand and worked there for three years, took a break to be a ghost shaper for Robert August, shaped 600 boards, and then started Quiksilver Travel in 2001. I worked there until 2013, before moving over to Waterways.
How’d you get the job?
I met Sean Murphy, the owner, on a surf trip to remote Panama in 2007. Even though we were competitors at the time, we got along really well. When Quiksilver Travel shut their doors, it seemed natural to transition over to Waterways, since they were the biggest and best at what they do. And I knew that Sean was probably the only guy in this business who I could still learn a lot from.
How great is your job?
I love it. Getting to interact with traveling surfers keeps me stoked. It also keeps me in tune with tour operators all over the world and gives me a unique perspective on global surf patterns. This year alone, I logged tube time in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. Not too bad!
What does a typical day/week look like at Waterways?
Normal office job from 9AM – 5:30PM, but Sean is the best boss ever. He’s always buying lunch for everyone and we’re looking at photos and watching surf contests. Working at Quiksilver for over 10 years was pretty special and had some insane perks, but I think on a day-to-day basis Waterways is a fun place to work because of the people that work here, not to mention our many awesome clients!
Have you always been a frequent traveler?
Always. I’ve been going to Baja since I was 8 years old. I’m just one of those people that sees a map and says, “I have to go there.” So, that’s what I’ve done.
So, you get to travel and surf a lot for work?
Yes, we all get out to R-and-D our surf tours several times each year. I like that part because not only do we get to know our tour operators well and really evaluate their operations, but we also get to meet our clients. I can honestly say that having been in the business for so many years, that most of my best friendships started as client/agent relationships. I love being able to help others fulfill their own dreams. Obviously, I can relate.
Do you get special rates?
We turn down tour operators all the time that want us to come down to their spots. Everyone wants us to check out their tours, because we are the front line of the sales force. So yes, we do get offered lots of free trips, but we don’t expect free trips. We understand that our tour operators need to make a living and we don’t take advantage of them. Plus, I find it’s better to pay, because then you don’t feel obligated to sell a specific resort if they aren’t up to Waterways’ standards. The old saying “There is no such thing as a free lunch” is definitely true in the travel business.
Where all have you been?
(Laughs) a lot of places, and most of them multiple times. Sumatra, Mentawai, Bali, Sumba, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Samoa, Hawaiian Islands, Chile, Peru, Panama (Pacific and Caribbean), Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mainland Mexico and the Dominican Republic .
What’s your favorite destination?
I’ve learned that every destination is unique and different in its own way. But my favorite wave in the world is probably Macaronis.
Some have said that travel is increasingly become a luxury item, a privilege enjoyed primarily by the wealthy. Would you say this is true?
I definitely think having a discretionary income to travel is a luxury. Of course, a lot of surfers travel while they are young and before they have families. And if you’re smart, you can get great value on a surf trip.
Who are your primary customers? Do you work with traveling pros at all?
Here at Waterways, we’ve been in business since 1994, so most of our customers come back every year or every other year to book their surf trips. I don’t have any official stats, but I think an average age of about 35-45 year old men, some traveling with their non-surfing companions, make up the bulk of our customers. We work with pro surfers and photographers on a regular basis, because many of our destinations offer world-class waves with the best accommodations possible.
Did the recession impact your business significantly, as it did so many others? If so, how did you weather the storm and are you seeing continuing improvement?
Yes, things slowed down some for a while, but we are back on track. Waterways is a niche business with a great reputation and track record. We’ve always offered great prices and work with the best surf tour operators in the world. When you’re the best at what you do, people will buy your products in good times, or bad.
What are some tips for cost-effective surf travel?
Well, if you have more time than money, you can just go with the flow and show up places. You can meet local surfers and do things on the cheap. But most of our clients can’t leave work and family behind for a month at a time. Most are traveling for 7-14 days. When you have only a few days, you can’t take 3-4 days getting settled in. You need to hit the ground running and be connected with someone who can take care of the other little things like food, transportation and lodging logistics, so you can forget all that, relax and go surfing. That’s what you’re there for and that’s our specialty at Waterways–maximizing the value of your time.
These days, people are increasingly placing value upon “experiences” over “things.” People have realized that you can lose “things” (like homes) and are realizing that these kinds of material possessions can be fleeting or lose their value, whereas experiences last forever. And of course, experiences help shape our identities and define who we are. Have you seen evidence of this in your job?
Absolutely! As a group, surfers have always placed a high value on experience. That’s what surfing really is… it’s an experience. And no one can ever take that away from you. At the same time, you can’t take a wave home with you after you ride it. It’s gone and that particular experience is over until you paddle back out for another one.
I’ve done a great deal of surf-traveling myself and know that sometimes, things can go wrong. Have you seen much of this in your career?
Things can go wrong on any trip, but for some reason, we love to talk about the worst surf travel experiences in our surf media. I don’t know if it’s a “badge of honor” or if people just love to hear stories about trips gone awry, but my motto is, “Expect the best, be prepared for the worst and the trip will probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.”
What are some of the trickiest situations you’ve had to deal with?
As an agent, we deal with al sorts of issues from airlines losing bags to guys getting injured and needing to be evacuated, but cancelled flights are one of the biggest headaches for travelers and agents alike. As a surf traveler, I’ve fended off crackheads, walked through knee-deep mud to find waves, super glued my cuts and had to figure out foreign lineups all alone on some really sketchy days.
For readers, of the places you’ve been or promote, where are some of the best destinations for each of the following:
Nothing but hardcore surfing:
Sumatra, Salina Cruz, El Salvador and G-land
Samoa, Galapagos, Mozambique, Dominican Republic
Namotu, Matanivusi, Chaaya Island and Nemberala Beach Resort
Tavarua, Waidroka, J-Bay, Bocas Del Toro
Best with an unlimited budget:
Kandui Villas, Chaaya Island, Macaronis Surf Resorts
Best on a tight budget:
Peru, Mexico, Dominican Republic, G-Land, El Salvador
So, do you need some help setting up an East Coast office, so that we can get folks off to the Caribbean, Nazare, Mullaghmore, Mundaka, The Canary Islands and J-Bay most efficiently (hint hint)?
Ha Ha! Maybe some day. But not now.
Ok, well at least there’s still hope!
Where are you personally headed next?
This year, I was in Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, the Maldives and the Dominican Republic. Next up is Teahupoo, Tahiti in March… nothing booked beyond that.
Any words of wisdom for those wishing to pursue their dream of a career like yours?
You know, the travel industry has changed so much since I began in 1996 that it’s hard for me to give advice to newcomers. I’d just say that if you want to travel the world, do it any way you possibly can, whether that is being a travel agent, chef, boatman or a teacher. Experiencing different cultures and getting to know people that come from completely different backgrounds is truly a priceless, life changing and enlightening experience that will forever shape how you view others and the world around you.
When you hear Kelly Slater talk about his life, he doesn’t brag on world titles. He talks about being a citizen of the world and how many wonderfully diverse friends he has who have taught him valuable life lessons and provided him with differing perspectives… This is because he has been traveling the globe for the past 30 years. The fact he’s the best surfer who ever lived is just a bonus for the rest of us.
Note: I originally conducted this interview and created the article for Waterways Travel and The Inertia. You can find the that post, here: http://www.theinertia.com/surf/dream-jobs-bryan-pohlmans-endless-summer/#ixzz3PPtMnsok
One of Jacksonville’s best kept secrets is the Catty Shack Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary (A 501-3 non-profit) is currently home to 40 BIG cats, everything from Siberian Tigers to Lions, to Panthers and many more! None of these cats were born in the wild. Rather, they were taken in to be cared for by the non-profit from a variety of different owners, for a variety of different reasons, primarily because the original owners were no longer able to care for them properly. They are open daily for tours and on Friday and Saturday nights you can go watch them being fed at night ($15/pp). It’s quite a scene. Lots of roaring and growling!We took our girls there with a couple of their friends, and they loved it! Here, a couple of the cats start getting restless just before feeding time…
2105 is finally here! I hope that everyone rang in the New Year in unforgettable ways! My wife was brought down by a pretty vicious cold, forcing us to cancel dinner plans with friends. Still, as always, we enjoyed ringing in the actual New Year at home with our girls. Every moment spent with them is so special for us. As we all begin to consider what lies ahead for 2015, be sure to remember that a new year itself won’t change anything for any of us, unless we do it ourselves. I’m not sure what it’s worth, but here are a few of my own suggestions for creating a life that you love in 2015:
Make decisions with conviction and live without regrets.
Never let fear become a barrier in life. That’s what it is.
Believe in yourself. How far we go in life is not based upon what we can see, but how far we can imagine ourselves going.
Don’t settle for anything less than you’re dreaming of. If you’re not doing exactly what you want to be right now, then it’s entirely up to YOU to change it. You can when you come to grips with this reality.
Mind your Heath! Push to stay young and healthy in body, mind and spirit. Living with a bit of self-discipline, balance and consistency will allow you to enjoy so many more things, so much longer than not. With age comes experience. Maintaining your health now will provide you the best of all worlds later.
Travel more in 2015, regardless of challenges! Explore your world to the extent you’re able, whether close or far from home. Although there’s ways to do it efficiently, traveling can be expensive, especially once you have kids. If you’re like me and believe that family is sacred, then rest assured you’ll want to share all of your experiences with your kids, regardless of costs. What’s this mean? That if you’re under 35 (or any age pre-kids), then DOUBLE DOWN on adventure RIGHT NOW while your obligations are fewer, your time more abundant and flexible. I’ve traveled extensively, and it’s never gotten cheaper or easier.
Make every moment of life count while understanding some dreams take time to achieve. Incremental progress is a beautiful thing. The key is never giving up. Remember that we are all just passing through this life. In one sense, that should encourage you to live your life with a sense of urgency. In another, it should remove all pressures of time.
Most importantly, live your life with a sense of positivity- of optimism, perseverance and gratitude.
Who’s to say
I can’t do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren’t always just what they seem
I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found
I’ll share this love I find with everyone
We’ll sing and dance to Mother Nature’s songs
I don’t want this feeling to go away
– “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson.
I think our youngest daughter, Kaelyn, spends more time on her hands than her feet! : )
Took a late afternoon stroll with KK, today… A few leftovers from the swell still rolling in… Enjoying the holidays and getting to spend time with my family.
Well, the 2014 Association of Professional Surfers’ 2014 World Championship Tour ended with the culmination of the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii, yesterday. The ASP crowned a new World Champion, Gabriel Medina- at age 20, the youngest world champion since Kelly Slater. Medina narrowly beat out Slater and Mick Fanning for the title, which would have been Kelly’s 12th. The best surfer to ever walk the earth may possibly retire, or not. At age 43, he still has the ability to win it all and it is only his interest level and motivation that will likely determine whether he comes back or not.
I completed another year of Surfer Magazine‘s Fantasysurfer.com competition (a fantasy surfing league where you have a $50,000,000 budget and select and manage a team of surfers), where the men’s side winner wins a trip to Hawaii. It’s a fun game. Just like all fantasy leagues, you need to know a great deal about all of the surfers, their abilities and tendencies, the breaks and what kinds of conditions each surfer performs best in, etc. I’ve cracked the top 50 in the men’s side previously, and had another good year this year.
On the men’s side, I came in 453rd this year out of 33, 907 teams- finishing in the top 1%! On the women’s side, I came in 250th out of 22,189 teams, also in the top 1%! Unfortunately, Surfer Magazine does not give out a prize for either the women’s side or for combined performance. If they did the latter, I think I’d have a great shot of winning the whole thing. Oh well, maybe one day they’ll at least let me fill in for Shea Lopez and/or Ross Williams to write for their Fantasysurfer.com blog!
Having some fun in a tropical storm I can’t quite remember the name of one summer day, likely down at Guana River State Park.
I’d be lying if I said I pulled this, but therein lies half the fun in surfing: How hard can you push and still recover?
Some nice looking graphic art for this year’s Right Whale Festival swag! I did the 5K on Saturday am, Nov. 15th up in Jax Beach. Always fun, relaxed and for a great cause! The festival was going on all day. I’ve done the run a couple of times now and enjoy supporting them. I gave it good effort and finished 2nd in my age group, 16th overall with 8.10 min miles. Not too shabby, and listening to Jack Johnson the whole way! I can’t believe I’ve got a “50” hanging by my name in the results. I still feel 35 on most days, but doggone it, they got it right!
Check out this incredible time-lapse video featuring thousands of images from the International Space Station stitched together by french photographer and filmmaker, Guillaume Juin. I’m actually a bit of a space geek, always one to be looking up at the sky and checking out celestial events. I love nature and of course, space, as Gene Roddenberry once wrote (and Captain Kirk said), is the final frontier. Thanks Ryan Ketterman for sharing this one with me. Seeing earth and looking out into our universe this way provides such amazing perspective about our world. It reinforces certain beliefs for me. But, I’ll leave you to watch it and formulate your own thoughts. Enjoy it, and go full-screen if you’re able! It’s spectacular!
What can you say about this? Eric Geiselman is one of the Right Coast’s premiere talents. If you want to see some truly phenomenal surfing- explosive, with near flawless style, just click right here and enjoy. The drone (UAV) videography also reveals what lurks below the surface here in Florida- plenty of sharks. New Smyrna Beach in particular has more than it’s share around the inlet, but Eric is clearly having too much fun to notice.
I think the growing use of the aerial videography is going to continue to reveal what we’ve all been surfing over and around for years, without fully knowing it. I think this will probably make many people more uncomfortable; and a lot of people, more comfortable. While I have had a couple of nerve-wracking run-ins with very large sharks over the years, neither I, nor anyone I know personally has ever been bitten, and I know a lot of people who have spent a ton of time in the ocean here, over many years. Like my own personal encounters and the evidence in this video, it leads me to believe that if sharks were really interested in us as a food source, we’d have figured that out upon stepping in the water on most days.
Had a great time at the 2014 Sisters of the Sea / Saltwater Cowgirls contest on September 6th, at the Jacksonville Beach Pier! What a wonderful event this is for all surfer girls / women of every age and ability. The spirit of the event is really supportive, and I would venture to say that vibe does not come altogether easily or naturally for many women, or surfers. But it sure showed on the beach at this event, which has been held for about 15 years now, I believe. Very proud of Kaelyn who made it through three rounds in the most crowded division (the 12U Whitewaters). 1st place in her first heat; 2nd place in her second heat; and 4th in her third heat. She missed making the final by a single surfer! Arrggh, so close! Sorry, honey! Thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and photographers, including Joey Wilson, who snapped this one.
Below are a few video clips of Kaelyn. There wasn’t much to ride the day of the contest, so Kaelyn’s strategy was just to ride each wave as far as she could. She had quite a few step-offs during the day. In her semi-final heat, I lined her up outside in what had been our sweet spot all day, but the peak had shifted over with the tide and she couldn’t find quite enough good ones. Oh well, next year!
Yesterday was Labor Day and we had some time, so decided to go explore our “backwater backyard” in Guana River State Park. We went up to North Guana Outpost (check ’em out!), rented a kayak and a couple of SUPs and were on our way (you can launch straight out from the back of the store)! The Guana, as always, was spectacular! It is so beautiful. We saw a lot of fish and birds and could hear gators, but never actually saw any. We went out at high noon, and it was pretty darn hot. An early morning excursion might be even better. But it was awesome and I highly recommend it. Great exercise, too! $25/hr. for board/kayak rentals or $50 for a 1/2 day. We may have to invest in a couple of SUPs for Christmas!
If you live on planet earth and are connected to the Internet, then chances are you’ve heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral social media challenge created to help raise awareness of, and generate funding for, the advancement of a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Disease, otherwise know as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The challenge works by challenging (3) people to either donate $100 to ALS or record a video of themselves getting a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads and donating $10. Of course, most people opt to take the bucket on the head, and the $10 donation. The videos then typically get posted to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and the challenges continue to spread. The campaign has already raised over $50 million for ALS, a staggering figure and a wonderful success story.
I was recently challenged by my friend Ryan Ketterman, a photographer here in Ponte Vedra Beach (check out his work- it’s fantasic!). You’re supposed to act on these challenges within 24 hours. My mid-week work schedule made this difficult for me, but I finally got around to it this weekend. The challenge has actually been around for a couple of weeks and I feel like that wave has crested, you might say. So, while I wasn’t necessarily going to flood anyone’s feed with one more bucket post, I also wasn’t going to back down from the challenge, which I have to say was fun, COLD and hilarious! I know my daughters, who helped out, sure enjoyed it! Below is sequential documentary evidence of my completion of the challenge. Thanks Ryan!
For more information on ALS, please visit www.ALSA.org
I’m continuing to do pretty well in Surfer Magazine’s Fantasy Surfer competition this year. With 6 out of 10 events down for the women’s side, I am currently in 100th place out of 20,559 players! I’m definitely in great position to win the whole thing with 4 events remaining! For the men, with 6 of 11 events complete, I am in 2,000th place out of 31,329 teams- not as good as the women’s, but still pretty decent (about 94th percentile). The winner of the men’s side gets a free trip to Hawaii! The winner of the women’s side gets… nothing (a mention in the mag). I think it’s a real (sexist) shame that Surfer has it set up that way, but hey. I think they should award the overall winner (men’s + women’s) with one trip; then the winners of both the men’s and women’s sides getting trips, as well. I think I’d probably be in the Top 10 if they were combining the performance of both sides.
Good morning, sunshine!
After banning Red Snapper fishing for a long, long time, the FWC recently opened a “season” for just a few short (8) days, to check on the health of the stock. I had the opportunity to go out at Port Canaveral, Florida with my brother-in-law, Trey, and a few of his friends, and we made ’em pay! I’m here to proclaim that the conservation efforts have worked! We must have landed 25-30+ Snapper, all about the size you see here (ranging from 12-19 lbs., with an average of abut 15 lbs.). We spent most of the day throwing back fish due to the catch limits per fisherman. Thanks to Trey and his friends, Dwayne, Grant, Amber and crew for an amazing day! We also had a Grouper, Cobia and several sharks. But mostly, it was just a non-stop Red Snapper frenzy and quite a workout! As a result, the Hamby’s have been eating well this week, and Snapper is my favorite fish! P.S. Don’t ask for the GPS coordinates! They are highly protected numbers.
Well, I made it through another year of Never Quit, an event I really enjoy. I competed in the Trident Solo, which includes a 5K Run, followed by a 500 Meter open ocean swim, followed by a 1,500 Meter surfboard paddle. It was a blast, as usual, and I met both of my personal goals- bettering last year’s time, and finishing in under an hour, despite a bum knee, which prevented me from doing any kind of serious prep work this year.
1st Place Sports results showed me as coming in third place in my age group, although they got that wrong. They showed my age as 49, placing me in the 45-49 age group. Truth be told, I turned 50 on May 1st, 30 days prior to the competition, which would have put me in 50-54 age group, where I actually would have placed 5th among men. But hey, happy to take third against the younger guys! : ) If you live in, or near Northeast Florida and have never participated in Never Quit, I encourage you to give it a go. There are all kinds of events and activities to participate in. I think it’s the best sporting event in our area, personally, but then I love the beach and the ocean.
The event is put on the Petroni family of Atlantic Beach, led by Erik Petroni (Some may recognize the Petroni name. Karina Petroni is a successful young pro surfer from the area). The event celebrates the life and spirit of Erik and Karina’s father, Capt. Gerard Petroni, who was a great patriot, athlete, waterman, Christian and family man. Capt. Petroni suffered a massive stroke in 2006 and fought valiantly to recover before eventually passing in 2009. During one of the most critical moments of his recovery, while unable to walk, eat or speak, his family handed him a piece of paper and asked him if he could write one thing on the paper, what would it be? He scribbled the words, “Never Quit”. Today the event celebrates the values that Capt. Petroni held dear- healthy living, love of family and friends and a relentless “Never Quit” approach to life. You can learn more about the event and Capt. Petroni’s amazing life in this fantastic video.
I’ve recently begun working on a new project during my spare time. My idea is a website that people would use as a resource for discovering things to do outside in Northeast Florida (hiking, biking, boating, fishing, surfing, SUPing, kayaking, ziplining, etc.) The best activities; best places to go; best guides/lessons/gear/rental equipment; etc. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while, and finally decided to get started. I’ve looked around online for similar resources and while there are a few good niche sites for individual categories, I haven’t found a really good aggregation of information in one spot.
It’s a pretty big content challenge and I’m creating it myself (using an online web builder software). I think it will probably take all summer. But, it allows me to scratch my creative, entrepreneurial and outdoor adventurist itches all at the same time. I’m not looking at it so much in the interest of creating a business at this time, more of a community-minded effort because I think we need this in our area. If it ends up generating some consistent traffic, I can always monetize it later. As I am developing it, I am doing so with strategic SEO in mind.
Below are the first few screen shots. Some of the navigation is hidden, but I’ve included some of the drop-down menus so you can get an idea of where I’m headed. Wish me luck!
Landing Page, Below the Fold
Some Navigation Menu Items
Three events into the 2014 Fantasysurfer season and I am looking pretty good… Top 95th percentile on the men’s side, top 99th percentile on the women’s side. Too bad they don’t offer the Grand Prize trip to Hawaii for the women’s division! I’m going to have to make a bit of a move if I want to win it for the men’s. But there’s plenty of time left to do that. I’m still within striking range. The stats here show the teams I began the season with (first event) and not my current lineups. I dropped a bit on the men’s side and improved a bit on the women’s. You’ve got to be consistent. With 28,000+ playing men’s, and 18,000+ playing women’s, just one bad event can really set you back to the point where you’d have no shot at winning the thing. So we’ll see how threst of the season goes. Eight more events to go, with the Billabong Pro Rio up next!
And pardon my use of the word, “push” in the headline. What I should have said was, “kick”. As in “kick in the ass”. Because that’s what you’ll see in this video. The parent of a six-year-old kicking his child off the ledge of a 13-foot skate ramp because the boy couldn’t muster the courage to drop into “Big Brown”, the intimidating half-pipe at legendary Kona Skate in Jacksonville, Florida. A young teenager at the park filmed the scene because he claimed it happened three times earlier that day.
I’m sorry- but if this isn’t child abuse, I don’t know what is.
The images and sounds are extremely disturbing. The little boy –a local skateboarding prodigy- seems to look up at his dad for some reassurance and/or to express anxiety over not being able to gather the courage to make the drop. Clearly frustrated, his father sneaks behind him and literally kicks him in the ass, sending him flying and landing on his tailbone at the bottom of the pit. You can hear the child crying in a mix of terror and pain when he hits the bottom. It’s the kind of fall that can leave a person with broken bones, paralyzed or even dead.
Worst of all, the little boy never even had a chance for a proper knee slide. His father kicked that opportunity right out from underneath him, before quickly fleeing the scene. Never mind that many skaters with years of experience at Kona regularly avoid this particular ramp, or that what might seem like 13 feet to an adult, probably seems more like 26 feet to a six-year-old half his size. Simply put, the father took out his anger and frustration on the child, physically.
Thankfully, the teenager who was smart enough to video the incident reported it to park officials, and also gave it to a friend to post on Instagram. The local area Instagrammers Club (#Igersjax) quickly picked up the clip and called out the father, harshly criticizing the act and exhorting its members and followers to re-share the post, help identify the dad and report it to local authorities and media. A social media firestorm quickly ensued, as the video went viral. The father was identified and was reportedly being dealt with by the Department of Children and Families. At the park, Kona officials had already asked the man, who reportedly skates often at the park with his son, to leave immediately.
In ensuing social media posts, one or two skaters, who seemed to be acquaintances tried to defend the father’s actions, but most, including both amateurs and pros were quick to point out that such actions had no place in skateboarding, or anywhere else. The father reportedly expressed remorse, saying he was, “caught up in the moment”. But such an event sure makes you wonder what a normal day at home might be like for this little boy, when father and son aren’t out having, “fun”.
While it is unknown if the father will lose custody of his child or be charged with a crime, he will no doubt pay the price for it due to the digital legacy of the shocking video and whatever emotional damage he may have caused his son now and in the future.
While this video is particularly distasteful due to the callous nature shown by the father to his son, it is ultimately one of countless episodes of hyper-competitive parents pushing their kids to extremes to excel, to satisfy their own egos. Skate dads, dance moms and bloated beauty queens who exploit their toddlers in tiaras- they’re all the same people. Selfish parents yearning to live vicariously through their kids at just about any expense.
Bad doses of reality.
Pushing children too hard, too young, runs the risk of inflicting permanent physical and emotional harm upon them, and burnout before they ever near their true potential. Remember that most kids, even veritable prodigies who may achieve truly significant accomplishments at an early age, are likely far less interested in competitive domination, and much more in simply having fun, and connecting with their parents. And by that, I don’t mean by way of a foot in their rear end.
Note: This is an article that I originally wrote for Seshn.com, an online magazine for a variety of creators with a strong emphasis on arts and action sports.