Local Skateboarders Build Community Around ‘The Spot’ | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER – On the outskirts of downtown Winchester, there is a concrete slab called “The Spot”.

The Spot – teeming with dreams and positive vibes – is home to Winchester’s ever-changing skateboarding community.

Bobby Kaniecki, a 2021 Handley High School alumnus who is one of some 30 regulars at The Spot, said the skaters were almost forced into solitary confinement. For example, the Loudoun Street Mall bans skateboards.

“The backlash to skateboarding all over Winchester is forcing us to stay private and have our own little paradise,” he said.

This paradise is The Spot at 205 Wyck St. It is equipped with two quarter pipes, a flat rail, a round rail and sometimes a box and a curb. It is a private land where skating is allowed. According to city records, The Spot was purchased by the National Fruit Production Company Inc. in 2008. The owners did not return a request for comment.

Discovered for the first time by skaters in 2008, The Spot was initially only two levels of concrete separated by a cornice. The equipment has now been placed there by current and former local skaters. The skaters who initially found and used The Spot are believed to be former Pioneer Skate Shop owner Davey Hess, Mike Griffith and John Smith.

JD Riggleman, a 29-year-old skater from Paw Paw, West Virginia, who has been attending The Spot since 2008, said it is a hub for people from all walks of life.

“Spot was created so that everyone in Winchester can have a place to express themselves, whether it is through skateboarding, music, bicycles, inline skates, you can build whatever you want, you express it in any way, ”Riggleman said. “It’s about keeping kids off the streets, keeping kids out of jail, off drugs, it’ll give you a place to go to be free, a place where you can go away from home and not. not be judged. “

If the skateboarding community comes up with Winchester Parks and Recreation about a skate park, Winchester Mayor John David Smith told The Star the agency might consider the idea.

In 2015, however, a city-built skate facility in Jim Barnett Park was closed for good a year after it opened because a majority of skateboarders would not wear helmets, according to the Winchester Star reports.

Since 2016, Smith has noted that skateboarding “has appeared maybe three or four times” and “it would make sense to have a designated location for a skate park.” When asked if there were any plans to build a skate park, Smith replied, “There was no plan, there was discussion.

Winchester City Parks and Rec is not opposed to a skate park if there is “a population that would use it,” said Chris Konyer, head of Winchester Parks and Rec Services.

“The concept is sort of dormant,” Konyer said.

He added that the department “would certainly be interested in revisiting the concept of a skate park at Jim Barnett Park.”

Kaniecki said executives at Winchester lacked an understanding of skateboarding.

“They generally regard the rough and difficult nature of skating as a negative thing, when in reality it is a super positive result for a lot of people. With skating now entering the Olympics this coming year, it’s time for Winchester to embrace this growing sport more, ”he said.

Mason Nickel, a 23 year old resident of Gore, said The Spot is a “hidden gem” and that he is lucky to have found it. He moved to the New Jersey area a few years ago and said The Spot has been very welcoming, adding “It means a lot to a lot of people. “

Nickel said The Spot “is in desperate need of a professional to build or repair our various concrete elements.” He adds that “wood is good for temporary and indoor things, but with The Spot being outside it succumbs to the elements and concrete is really the only thing that can be brushed off throughout the day. “.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, skateboarding’s popularity has increased and its Google search rate has increased 97% nationwide since March.

Millbrook High School Liberty Donaldson, 17, said she would not have started skating without the pandemic.

“I started because I needed something to do that was physical and it was as physical as possible,” she said.

Ian Shuster, Handley 2020 graduate, added that he had been skateboarding at home a lot during the pandemic. When things started to open up, he was ready to return to The Spot.

“I couldn’t wait to see the community again, see all my friends and skate together,” he said.

For Shuster, The Spot has been a place where he has been clearing his head for several years.

Kaniecki said that skateboarding also encourages creativity.

“Skating allows for positive creative expression in a way that remains fun and exciting,” he said. “The risk of danger scares the regulars away, but for us skaters, that’s what makes skateboarding so addicting.

Like life, skateboarding is also built on determination and adaptation.

When Liberty reflected on what makes skateboarding so beautiful, she said it was all about practice and “amazing” tricks that often require a lot of falls and pain.

Skateboarding culture also embraces free expression through fashion and skateboard design as there is a range of board shapes and graphic designs. With the different ways to customize the boards, skateboarders can express themselves in a unique way.

“Skateboarding has always been about promoting individuality,” said Nickel.

Javan Butler is in his final year at Millbrook High School in Frederick County.

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