Bret Williams isn't bashful when he readily admits a skateboarding competition he's hosting Sunday at Jaycees Park in southeast Brainerd is free advertising for his store, Keeping it Real Skateboards.
But the Brainerd resident and lifelong skateboarder says the logical next step after the skate park at Jaycees Park was built last year is to have a skateboarding competition.
"Tons of kids use the place and some of the best skaters in town practice there," said Williams. "That's where they learn their stuff and try new tricks. They wouldn't be doing it if they didn't learn it there.
"The only thing the place lacks is the competition element. These kids, they watch the skate videos and everyone of them has a competition on it because that's what teams do -- they compete and win big prizes."
The prizes for Williams' competition, which is in conjunction with the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department, will be a skate deck, wheels, bearings and other prizes.
The event is open to any skater, but those under 18 must have a parent's signature. Skaters can pre-register at Keeping it Real Skateboards or at noon Sunday before the event begins at 1 p.m.
The cost is $3 and the competition is split into novice and experienced divisions.
"Ideally I want this thing to get huge," said Williams. "The way that we projected it when I talked to the parks board about insurance and stuff was a max of 30 skaters. There are definitely 30 skaters in town, but many are street skaters and don't skate ramps."
That's another reason Williams started the competitions May 29. He hopes to get more skaters involved with the skate park. He said the politics involved with building the skate park torqued many skaters and many other skaters don't like the design.
"The problem with cities building skate parks is they don't consider street skaters and ramp skaters," said Williams. "If you're a vert skater you skate ramps. Otherwise you skate street. It's a different array of tricks. If you're into technical skating and doing just crazy stuff, you can't do that on a ramp.
"The park in Brainerd has one set of six stairs that gets used a lot, but most of the kids go to Franklin Junior High School and use those steps and rails. But the skate park is a good thing."
In his three previous competitions, Williams said he's had anywhere from 10 to 15 skaters. He hopes Sunday will draw even more with the following competition, July 24, more yet.
Williams, 23, has been skating all his life. He tried football and basketball and just didn't like those sports. He knows many of the younger skaters find themselves in similar situations. They don't like the school-sponsored sports and there isn't an after-school program for skateboarding. That's why he hopes to get these competitions up and running.
"I've often thought, what can I do and what should I do?" said Williams. "I went to the park board and they helped make this happen.
"I don't want to necessarily get them off the street, but this is a different form of skating."
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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