SALIDA, Colo. — Progress takes time. Time to build, get better, and grow.
Derek Scott learned that in a graffiti-covered skate park in Salida.
"If anything gets me emotional it’s this place," said Scott while skating in the old Salida Skatepark in the center of town. "I learned everything I know in this little hole in the ground right here."
But even this pro skater realizes his sport has never been big in his hometown.
"We're known for the Arkansas River. It's a huge rafting town," Scott said.
Tucked away between some of Colorado's highest peaks, the old skate park in Salida never stood out.
"This is one of the first skateparks built in Colorado actually. It was the third. I think. Maybe don’t quote me on that one," Scott joked.
But just like his skills, Scott's hometown is growing.
After making it big in California and skating in competitions around the world, he wanted to come home and give kids in his hometown the chance to skate like pros.
And so he helped find funding and worked with the town to plan and build a skatepark that would do just that. The group Friends of Salida Skateparks was started to helped bring the new park to the town.
"Once we get started, we’re not stopping. We’re not stopping," Scott yelled into a microphone on a recent Saturday as dozens of kids skated in the new skatepark in Salida. "Judges are you ready? Salida are you ready? Let’s get it. Drop in."
A skate competition opened the new park that Scott helped bring to Salida. Funding, planning and building isn’t what a pro athlete usually focuses on. This project is worth it.
"I think skateboarding should be for everybody. Not just for boys," said 10-year-old Emma Litwiller, who drove with her family from Breckenridge to skate in the competition at the new park. "I love having girls skating with me because it doesn’t feel like it’s just me out there."
And Scott liked what he saw.
"Emma is destroying this whole entire park!" he yelled into the microphone as Litwiller pulled off a trick. "Ohhhhh Emma with the varial kickflip! Nice!"
It's a sport that's now teaching kids more than just tricks. When Scott grew up in Salida, there was only a small skatepark that had aged over the decades.
A hole in the ground and a piece of wood took Scott a long way. Now, the future pros have a place to grow at the new park.
"A skateboard has taken me all around the world," Scott said. "It's created a life for me. I want the youth here and the people around my area to know what this little piece of wood can do for you. It's an escape and it's a passion. Even when I'm most down that I've ever been, I've picked up the skateboard and I've been able to clear my conscience. When I'm on this thing, there's nothing else I'm thinking about other than skateboarding. There's nothing else that's on my mind."
Scott skates in competitions all around the world on the pro tour. He hopes to bring professional skate events to Salida in the future, and host them at the new skate park.
"It’s awesome to see the youth come out and really utilize this park the way that I envisioned it to be used," said Scott. "That kind of positivity goes so far for kids this age. For any age really. You get that kind of positivity and that kind of upbringing, it’s destined for success."
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