No coaches, no whistles, no problem | Sports


Billy Shroards, a freshman at Redlands High, said, “I love the freedom and seeing what I can do.”

Palm trees sway, music blares, and “No Skateboarding” signs are absent.

It’s the first Don Gifford Skate Park Classic at Redlands Skate Park and spirits are high.

Junior Tony Hawks fill the park, some munching on small pizzas as they skate and many wearing hoodies and all manner of skate gear. Dads walk around with young children on their shoulders.

The skate venue is on the outskirts of Sylvan Park, nestled between the train tracks, lawn bowling club and Zanja CREEK, an ancient waterway built by indigenous people.

There is no dashboard. No coaches. No officials in striped shirts.

Billy Shroards, a freshman at Redlands High with blonde and neon yellow hair, arrived at the park at 7 a.m.

“Why not go out and have fun?” said Shroads. “I love freedom and seeing what I can do.”

Shroads plays football in high school and I ask him how skateboarding is different.

“There aren’t that many rules,” he says. “You can do whatever you want.”

Freedom. Everyone wants it. But there are tradeoffs to playing team sports. Not all children want to do this.

A survey by the Aspen Institute found that kids drop out of sports on average at age 11. This is the sixth year.

National participation in youth sports fell 7% among children aged 6 to 17 from 2012 to 2018, Project Play said.

It was the age of skateboarders and scooter and BMX riders who filled Redlands Skate Park on a blustery Saturday.

One of them was Brandon De La Fuente, a senior from Redlands East Valley High who wore a Kansas City Chiefs black knit beanie.

“The park is fun,” De La Fuente said. “I used to play travel baseball and youth football, but it’s more independent. It’s just you. Too many coaches (in youth sports) show favoritism.

Yucaipa’s Alex Morgan rocked a Santa Cruz Skateboards hoodie, attending the alternative Green Valley High.

“I love meeting new riders,” Morgan said. “I played baseball, but it’s more independent.

You have to engage in the towers and risk falling.

The chatter of team sports got me thinking. When I coached youth basketball in Redlands, Yucaipa and Beaumont, I screamed a lot. Two wingers went to the same side of the pitch and I thought I had to fix it. At once.

Later, I asked a kid named Brandon how he liked to play and he said, “Good, except for all the screaming.” Hmm. Maybe I should have left both wings in the same place.

Seated in a car outside the park was the octogenarian for whom the event is named, Don Gifford. He felt bad and watched from afar.

He said the event was not for coaches or parents or to place children on the right side of a basketball court as if they were playing pieces.

“It’s all about the kids,” he said. “Just give them gifts, food, caps and t-shirts. Everyone leaves with something. This is positive for the town of Redlands.

Skate Park Classic Results

Skateboarding, stairs and flat terrain

12 and under

Evander Hoover, Redlands; Micha Strutton, Redlands; John Kintzer, Mentone; Jima Holmes, Redlands; Jack Kintzer, Menton.

13 to 15

Ramon Garcia, Redlands; Evan Darling, Yucaipa; Jordan Griego, Redlands; Franklin Nopalos, Redland; Andrew Sevilla, Redlands.

16 to 18

Frankie Fernandez, Rialto; Layla Hernandez, Redland; Joel Jackson, San Bernardino; Jacob Salazar, Redlands; Sam Torres, Redlands.

skate bowl

12 and under

Evander Hoover, Redlands; John Kintzer, Mentone; Micha Strutton, Redlands; Jack Kintzer, Menton.

13 to 15

James Azpeitia, Highlands; Chris Hubbard, Redland.

16 to 18

Frankie Fernandez, Rialto.


12 and under

Paul Rider, San Bernardino; Taylor Cisneros, Redlands; Manericil Micucci, Redlands.

13 to 15

Jason King, Yucaipa; Anthony Lopez, Redland; Tommy Glasscock, San Bernardino; Robert Mendoza, Redlands; Zack Salazar, Redlands.

16 to 18

Kurt Shearer, Red Earth; Eli Fide, Moreno Valley; Austin Whitten, Redlands.

John Murphy can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PrepDawg2.


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