Video by Brandon Balayan

As life remains at a stand still for many people all over Santa Clarita, the popping and scraping of skateboards still echoes throughout the valley.

Ever since the Santa Clarita Skatepark closed, local skater Donovan Rosales has been kicking and pushing throughout SCV and Los Angeles; looking at spots differently and even going to DIY skateparks. 

“If you just close off skateparks, people are just going to skate more property,” Rosales said. “I mean with all the quarantine closing, now we can get spots that are right in front of businesses … that you wouldn’t be able to get before.”

Skating in front of businesses is not new for some skateboarders. Street skating is a prevalent part of the culture, so the reputation of questioning authority and skating property has always lingered with the community.

It is a stereotype that has been around way before the Stay at Home orders, but Rosales believes that these rules have played up these stereotypes. 

“I think that what the city’s doing, and the laws they are passing, it’s just gonna make that stereotype come true for people,” Rosales said. “They can view it however they want, some people are still going to have preconceived notions about skateboarders.”

Rosales bails while trying to jump over a planter in Valencia.
Credit: Brandon Balayan

Preconceived notions that may come from not knowing why people skate to begin with; why they go through the trouble of scraping themselves up from constantly attempting the same trick for hours. Breathing heavy as they limp back to give their trick another attempt. Rosales has his reasons. 

“I’ve had some depression issues, things of that sort, and I need physical activity,” Rosales said. “Without it, It’s a huge detriment to me mentally, it makes the days crawl by. It’s just hard to keep on going.”

Rosales is not the only one to be impacted in this way. 

According to a study done by the University of Southern California, there is a strong connection between skateboarding, skateparks and mental well-being. When young people feel disenfranchised, the sport provides a shared space to connect with others. 

Right now, that can be difficult to do. He occasionally skates with his friends, but the spontaneity of picking them up and going wherever they want has slowed down. However, they have continued to be creative with their approach by skating property.  

Skateboarders’ creativity allows them to adapt, innovate and become a nomadic subculture that is constantly in pursuit of a new spot or trick, so closing skateparks has not had much of an effect on the sport. 

The cyclical nature of the sport is an essential part of Rosales’ routine and well being. It starts with the sometimes grueling struggle to land a trick, to finally landing it, embracing your friends with a celebratory dap-up and doing it all over again.

Rosales ollies over a planter in Valencia
Credit: Brandon Balayan

For this reason, Rosales and his friends will keep skating. The camaraderie and community that is built by skateboarding seems to create an environment for fun, during a time when many peoples’ lives have been put to a halt. Yet the importance of skateboarding to the community, and why people continue to skate is hard to comprehend for some people.

“Just try to consider what this piece of wood with a couple wheels means to someone and what it’s been doing to positively impact their life,” Rosales said. 

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