Rob Rodrigues – A Skateboard Autobiography

– Brief History of Time –

Most people know me as an “Old School NYC” Freestyle skater, The owner of SURE Skateboards – a local company that teaches skateboarding & longboarding and promotes both as an alternative form of urban transportation. I’m also known as the team manager for Bustin Boards – a Brooklyn based longboard company.

But, my story is rooted in Florida. My parents were both working class city kids raised in Manhattan, I was born in New Jersey and we moved to Miami when I was seven. I became obsessed with skateboarding in 1976 when my grandmother upgraded my steel wheel Nash Shark to a urethane wheeled GT Grentec. What was to follow was endless neighborhood skateboarding followed by the exploration of shopping malls and college campuses looking for interesting things to skate. The next step was poorly constructed driveway ramps to skate on while I waited for The Runway, my local skate park to open.

Rob's TrophiesPart of my collection that spans five decades, 1978 thru 2011 (click to enlarge)

It was in Miami at The Runway that I became team members with Monty Nolder, Robbie Weir and Wayne Hildreth. The following years were packed with adventures of traveling around Florida and skating in contests. My first notable placing was in March of 1979 at the Clearwater Skateboard Park Pro-Am Open, 2nd place in junior mens freestyle. That led me to a sponsorship with Dogtown Skates through the Fort Lauderdale skateboard distributor Tuflex. I returned to Clearwater in October of that year to skate the freestyle event at the Pro Open. I placed 5th behind already established kids like Rodney Mullen, Tim Scroggs and Jim McCall. After things dried up a bit in the skate industry and California sponsorships were not as easy to come by. I was recruited by Bruce Walker’s team. Walker Skateboards was a Florida based company and gave much better attention to local skaters. Bruce also gave excellent support to the Freestyle discipline. Walker would remain my primary sponsor for the rest of my serious competitive days.

 

Thrasher Magazine

My very  first photo in Thrasher magazine, May 1981. Credit; Bruce Walker (click to enlarge)

Toward the end of 81 I moved up to NYC to go to art school and ultimately pursue my Rock-n-Roll dream. One highlight before relocating north was a last Florida amateur freestyle contest win at the Kona-Variflex Nationals during the summer of 81. I remember that as one of the craziest contest ever. It lasted for several days and people came from all over the country, including the then very well known Bones Brigade and the Variflex team from California. Two other contests that stand out in my mind were held at Solid Surf skate park in Fort Lauderdale. Only vague memories now, I wish digital cameras and video recorders could have been there to capture some of that history.

Transworld Magazine

My very last photo in Transworld magazine, June 1991. Credit; Spike Jonze – Photo,  Cameron Martin – Text (click to enlarge)

I took a few years off from skating when I got up to New York. Not really to focus on my studies but more so to get the whole city life partying thing out of my system. Just past the middle of the 80’s decade I started to notice a lot of skateboarders rolling around the city. I also found Joe Humeres, a local freestyle skater that was riding for Bruce Walker’s team. My old team!

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a competitive dude and seeing Joe rip it up in the middle of Washington Square park with thousands of people around gave me the itch again. And also the motivation to come out of a four year hibernation to work on kicking his ass at being known as “New York’s Freestyle Skater”. Just like that it was ON!!! 

Kidding, joking and competition aside Joe and I became good friends, still are to this day. We did a lot of contest traveling together. We were both very active in the Eastern Skateboard Association and the National Skateboard Association freestyle contest programs. Humeres won the NSA Amateur Nationals in 1988, I won two years later in 1990. That was big win for me and the end of what I consider my serious competition days. After many years of corporate adult real life experience I feel blessed to be in the industry that won me over as a kid in South Florida.

Spread the Stoke – Rob Rodrigues

Reno Nevada

Celebrating a National Amateur Freestyle title in Transworld magazine. Reno Nevada, 1990 (click to enlarge)

Upside Down

Rolling in “Old School NYC” Upside Down – 180 Handstand to Kick Flip – Waterside Plaza (click to enlarge)

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Some Video Footage

One Response to “Rob Rodrigues – A Skateboard Autobiography”

  1. Michael Freeman May 24, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    I haven’t seen Rob skate since about 1979/1980. I just started freestyling again after a 25 yr. absence. At age 50 I’m having fun again

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