A passion for skateboarding

Skate park in Fort Defiance leads teens to start new business

By Jan-Mikael Patterson
Special to the Times

FORT DEFIANCE, Jan. 19, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: D'orr Greenwood, 17, from Fort Defiance, owns the Lucky Day Skate Company.

SECOND FROM TOP: Mike Martinez, 19, from Fort Defiance, slides on the board Sunday in Fort Defiance. Martinez has been skating for 10 years.

THIRD FROM TOP: The CEO of Lucky Day Skate Company, D'orr Greenwood, 17, skates in Fort Defiance on Sunday.

BOTTOM: Lucky Day Skate Company skateboarders, from left, Mike Martinez, 19, Kasey Morgan, 13, owner D'orr Greenwood, 17, Shaun Harvey, 13, and Guy Tsosie, 16.

The new skate park open in Fort Defiance has spurred more than skateboarding, it's given rise to a new business started by two local teens - D'orr Greenwood and Keanu Day - who love the sport and saw a way to help their community at the same time.

Lucky Day Skate Company offers custom-decorated skateboards, information on the latest competition events, and a community center for skateboarders, its owners say.

"We really wanted to start because we've seen how big the skate scene was getting," said Greenwood, 17. "We had the skate park coming and everything was on its way about skateboarding."

Skateboarding involves riding on a wooden plank uniquely designed with four wheels attached. It's considered a recreational activity, an art form, a job, or even a method of transportation.

The best part, according to Greenwood, is that it keeps you active. Skateboarders develop the lean, wiry physiques once common among American teens, but now increasingly rare.

"We want to help out especially with the diabetes programs," Greenwood said. "We wanted to get the kids out and do things."

Before the park was built local skaters were prevented from riding their boards in public places for the most part. The reasons often cited were safety concerns - liability for the landlord - and potential crime or property damage - rightly or wrongly, many people associate skateboarders with law-breaking and graffiti.

The Navajo Nation's Office of Diné Youth saw past these stereotypes, however, and a skate park was built along with a sports complex. Greenwood saw an opportunity to put something together to solidify the culture of skateboarding in a positive light.

"I, myself, have been skating for three years," she said. "I've always wanted to own my own company and Keanu wanted to help me get it going. So we started it to basically help start up the skate scene."

The idea was to put together something that every skater can be a part of despite differences of experience or skill.

"There are a lot of the skaters that have a passion for skateboarding. A lot of them never have been off the reservation to skate at different places or experience new skate places or anything like that," Greenwood said, noting that skateboarding is popular worldwide and competitions are held throughout the country.

The contests benefit the sport, Greenwood said, adding that she improved her skills as well as making friends by taking part in them. She is sponsored by Old Cocks Skateboarding Company based in Palm Springs, Calif.

Through her sponsor, she also was able to obtain professional boards for the Lucky Day skaters. They, in turn, held food sales and raised their own travel money to take part in competitions as far away as California, a first for many in the group.

"What we wanted to do was help (Navajo skaters) get up and get out and see things other than the reservation, talk to different people and different societies from other places," Greenwood said. "This is to also show kids that you don't need a TV to have fun. You can get out and be active and skate and be outside.

Greenwood is from Fort Defiance, where she lives with her grandparents Dave and Lucy Bowman. Her grandpa Dave bought Greenwood's first skateboard from Walmart.

Her best friend and business partner Keanu Day, also 17, is the son of Rob and Melinda Day of St. Michaels, Ariz.

Both are seniors at Window Rock High School and they plan to continue the company after graduation, hopefully while attending college in the Phoenix area.

Keanu's father, Rob Day, provides the home-based business with guidance from his experience as owner of Day Customs in St. Michaels.

An extended family

Lucky Day Skate celebrated one year of existence in December, and now sponsors eight skaters.

The highlight of the year was learning that the company is becoming known, and in a very positive way, Greenwood said.

"It was during the All Nations Skate Jam in Albuquerque during the Gathering of Nations Powwow when I heard a couple of skaters mention how cool Lucky Day Skate Company was," said Greenwood, who also is a jingle dress dancer in the powwow circuit. "I thought that was so cool to hear from other skaters I never met before to say my company was cool and they knew of it."

Meanwhile, Lucky Day creates custom designs on skateboards, which sell for $25 each, but it might be misleading to call skateboard sales the company's core business.

Listening to Greenwood talk, it's more like community service and culture building are the main things.

"Obesity, diabetes and other diseases is what we're fighting and it's because a lot of the kids are ditching the sports for video games and everything else like that," she said. "It's nice to see a young skater out there because they're at the skate parks learning new tricks and being active rather than being at home.

"I asked some of the young kids, 'Would you rather play skateboarding on a video game or would you rather actually skate?'" Greenwood said. "Actual skating is a lot better because you get to actually meet new people and the feeling of achieving something new, like a new trick, is very rewarding.

"When it comes to competitions, skaters feel like they really accomplished something rather than achieving something so small on a video game. They can actually win in a real competition and feel that excitement.

"Through skating I met all these people and have gone to all these places," she said. "It's a lifestyle. It's a growing family. A lot of people look up to skateboarding and skateboarding actually saved a lot of people too. I mean, it's amazing some of the stories you hear.

"For example, one of my friends who is 19, and has been skating shy of 7 years, said he grew up in a family that was never really there for him," Greenwood recounted. "So him and his friend picked up a skateboard and starting skating together. They started going to different places to skate and competitions.

"That's when he realized that he was a part of something greater. It wasn't just a board with wheels to him anymore. He said that skateboarding was there to help him when he needed it. Since his family wasn't there, he turned to his skateboarding family."

Greenwood's friend got an extended family that took care of him and helped him when he needed it, like getting him to a competition and offering a place to stay and food.

"He told me, 'I honestly don't know where I would be without skateboarding, I really don't. My family wasn't ever there for me but now I have a bigger family that is willing to help me out,'" Greenwood said.

"Skateboarding is a great hobby and that feeling you get when you learn something new, nothing beats that."

Information: www.facebook.com/LuckyDaySkateCompany; 505-409-2316; luckydayskate@yahoo.com; decide_dorr@yahoo.com; or Lucky Day Skate Company, P.O. Box 401, St. Michaels, AZ 86511.

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