When the skateboarding community comes together to compete, the most coveted trophy for winning is a new board deck.
But to be a winner, you simply must get out there on your deck, skate and support your fellow thrashers.
On Saturday, well over 200 people filled the Louise D. McMahon Memorial Skate Park for the Isaiah Whiteshield Memorial Skate Contest. Many were there to compete. Many more were there to support this self-contained community.
The event was put on by the local skateboarders with support of friends, families and fans of the sport. It was held to honor and remember Whiteshield, a 16-year-old skateboarder who took his own life on May 16. A mural of him painted by Danny Niedo stands out on the side of a half-pipe ramp. His presence is felt by those who knew him best: those who skated with him.
His was the second suicide to shake the skaters in a short time. On March 22, Diamond Rain Watts, 16, killed herself. She was Whiteshield’s girlfriend and also was a skater.
The event was originally to be co-sponsored by the City of Lawton as a competition as well as an event to raise awareness about suicide prevention. When things fell through with the official end, it only made the event taking place that much more important, according to Justin Stevens, one of the adult skaters who helped make it happen.
With canopies set up to block the Saturday evening sun and offer shade, grills were set up and a feast was cooked for all. And on the concrete and ramps, these skateboarders built each other up. Competitors included novices trying to simply stay atop their boards to high-flying experts racing up ramps and soaring skyward.
At the end of each run, the pounding sound of boards slapping against the ramps offered the greatest applause to the competitors. Because even though it was billed as a competition, it was the sound and sign of a support system.
Jessica Areloano carried Whiteshield’s original first skateboard and placed it at the base of the transition ramp. She considered him a second son as he was her son’s best friend. She asked for all to remember what the day was about.
“Always be there for each other,” she said. “Y’all skate for Isaiah today.”
And that’s what they did.