Bob Brennan asked his son, Connor Brennan, 13, if he could do a caveman off the mini quarter-pipe ramp.
Connor didn’t answer the question verbally. Instead, he just leapt off the ramp, nearly 5 feet into the air, navigating the skateboard under his feet, and landed decisively on the asphalt.
Enough said — the answer was yes.
Connor Brennan, with longish, thick curly hair and a flush red face from a full afternoon of skating, started the sport when he was 5, but didn’t get serious about it until last September.
“All my friends skate,” said Connor Brennan, who rarely calls his friends by name, saying in its place ‘dude’ or ‘man.’ Connor Brennan, who attends Rachel Carson Middle School, knows a lot about skating: the lingo, the history and the tricks.
“An ollie is by far the most important skate trick,” he said. (See box for the definition of ‘ollie’ and other skateboarding terms). Connor Brennan said the ollie is the foundation for nearly all skateboarding moves.
“You can connect tricks from the ollie,” he said, “Like ollie to boardside.”
Connor Brennan and other members of his skate team, ‘Flight,’ were some of the first skaters to show up at last Saturday’s Skate Park on Wheels, which Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and several other public and private groups helped bring to Reston for the first time.
In fact, the skate team arrived so early, they were asked to help put up the chain fence that enclosed the traveling park.
Held at the Wiehle Avenue Park & Ride Lot, the temporary skate park filled up with skaters of all ages and all levels not too long after opening at 1:30 p.m.
INSIDE THE PARK, various ramps — launch ramps, table set ramps, quarter-pipe ramps, and spine transfer ramps – packed the area for the skaters to ‘thrash.’
“It’s fun to watch [the skateboarders] because you don’t realize all the things they can do,” said Hudgins.
Connor Brennan, with a proclivity for extreme sports, surfed for a few years before he ever set foot on a skateboard.
“It’s just the rush thing,” he said, describing why he likes skateboarding.
“I saw [Connor Brennan] doing all this cool stuff,” said Adin Katz, explaining why he tried skateboarding.
Katz, another member of team Flight, started skateboarding six months ago.
Other members of Flight, Eric Stewart, 13, and Sully Malik, 12, who also attend Rachel Carson Middle School, have made skating a way of life. They sometimes refer to themselves as skate punks, people who only want to skate and listen to music.
Malik, tall for his age and easygoing, has been skating for almost five years. He’s the captain of team Flight.
“I started because my brother skated," he said. “I just love it."
The smallest member of Flight, Connor’s little brother, Ryan Brennan, is 9 and attends Crossfield Elementary. With the same curly hair as his brother only a bit blonder, Ryan Connor looked like skateboarding came naturally, swooping up, down and over the various ramps with the confidence of his older brother.
Another boarder, Jon Dailey, a student at Langston Hughes Middle School, spent a good portion of the afternoon perfecting, as the skateboarders would say, a ‘smooth boardside.’
But Dailey, who seemed to be riding just a little faster than everybody else at the park, eventually landed a nifty skate jump off a launch ramp, where he sped off of it, gently kicked the board so it flipped horizontally in the air, and then landed. Dailey said he’s been skating for a year.
A SKATER WHO was at the park most of the day, Bobby Rae Allen, a 10-year-old student at Sunrise Valley Elementary School, just recently learned to do a drop-in, a maneuver skaters use to start down a ramp.
The drop-in helps skaters gain speed when they head toward one of the other ramps.
Allen and Clarke Hildreth, a 10-year-old who attends Crossfield Elementary, were often seen ‘dropping-in’ the quarter pipe simultaneously.
Allen said his favorite trick that he can do is a rock to fakie. But his favorite trick that he’s seen is a Mctwist, a professional trick performed on a half-pipe ramp where the skater flies into the air, flips backwards, and simultaneously spins 540 degrees — all completed before arriving safely back on the ramp.
As Allen spoke, an older skateboarder was trying some more advanced tricks. It was 20-year-old Mike Means, a skate camp teacher, who’d been skating since he was in the third grade. Means, who has taught skateboarding for six years, made skateboarding look easy.
Describing his long interest in skateboarding, Means said, “I think its just the individuality of it. Everybody develops their own style.”
As Means rode through the park and off the ramps, his board looked like an extra appendage, purposeful and in control.
That isn’t to say he didn’t have his fair share of wipeouts, but that’s what the pads and helmet are for.