Skatepark will host a major competitive event this summer | News

The skate scene in Tahlequah has grown exponentially over the years, as evidenced by the annual sessions that attract all levels of riders from across the state.

Anyone who regularly passes Tahlequah Skate Park knows that the area is home to many thrill seekers, and they will have the opportunity to show off their skills at this year’s Tahlequah Skate Jam. Those who succeed can earn bragging rights and take their careers a step further.

David Camden, who helped encourage the city to build the new park, said the skill level of local cyclists has increased significantly in recent years.

“The facilities are good enough that a professional from Tony Hawk’s company would want to come,” he said. “Oklahoma has the ability to have professional skateboarders, and we’re already on the radar for that. So Tahlequah, now having the skatepark that we have, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone reach that level coming from Tahlequah.”

Beginner, intermediate and advanced riders will have the chance to gain competition experience. Beginners and intermediates will be divided into groups of three to seven riders for classic jam sessions.

“Everyone skates at the same time, and it’s okay if you miss a few tricks,” Camden said. “We just want to see what you can do over time, and you’ll have a few other people with you, so you’re not so intimidated, and all eyes aren’t just on you.”

Skateboarding was recently added to the Summer Olympics, with the first-ever competition held in Japan last year. They Games adopted the format used in Street League Skateboarding, an international tournament series started by pro Rob Dyrdek. It is this contest format in which experienced riders will participate in the Tahlequah Skate Jam.

“These guys who are in the advanced category have the ability to go pro and do something very extreme with their lives, if they make the right decisions and the right things fall into place,” Camden said. “So we’re aiming for the advanced guys to do something that’s a very similar format to what they’re going to do in the Street League or the Olympics, if they were to get to that level.”

At least 14 sponsors have been lined up for the event so far, thanks to connections made between Avenue Skateshop and other businesses in the area. Camden said he has no problem finding companies willing to donate their products, although he is looking for other sponsors to step in.

“I’m just a dad of three working on the side from my cell phone,” he said. “If I had a little more money to play with, I could do something really cool and I’ve gotten far enough in the contest to have time to figure it out.”

Tahlequah Skate Park has become a community within a community. Skaters, young and old, intermingle on sunny days. Parents will take their children to the park and often find older skaters willing to help them introduce themselves for the first time.

“In a world of cellphones and video games, it’s nice to have a place to go right outside,” Camden said. “As a kid, I grew up in ridiculous poverty and had a skateboard. Finding my skateboard gave me something to do, and it didn’t stop. I was 11, and now I’m going to be 32, and I’m always thinking of new stuff that I want to put in. It never ends.

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The public is invited to the Tahlequah Skate Jam, which will take place on June 26 at 2 p.m. Businesses or companies are welcome to attend and promote their brands. Attendees can enter for free and will receive free food. For more information or to find out how to become a sponsor, call Avenue Skateshop at 918-814-2649.

Joseph K. Bennett