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Skate or Die, Rodney Jones

If there is a name that links skateboarding to Baltimore, it’s Rodney Jones. This professional skateboarder started his journey with the sport, in the streets of downtown Baltimore, when he was eleven-years-old. His dream to become a professional skateboarder and improve the quality of skate parks in Baltimore never left his mind.

“I always knew this was what I wanted to do. I love the freedom and self-expression it gives me. It pretty much balances out my life,” Jones said.

Jones has the privilege to see the world and skate because his sponsors finance his travels. Jones’ sponsors include, Dakine Backpacks, Randoms Hardware, Powell Skateboards, Venture, Billabong, Skate Wave, Bones Wheels, Bones Bearings and Sun Diego Skate Shop.

“I remember when I first turned pro for Powell, it was like a dream come true. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be on the same list of skaters that I always looked up to,” Jones said.

Jones has the privilege to travel the world and visit places many have never been to. In December, he will be embarking on a trip to Venezuela to skate. Another advantage to being a professional skateboarder is the opportunity to be in magazines. Jones’ pictures have been in almost every skateboarding related publication.

“I feel like the luckiest guy alive because I do get to see the world and I don’t have to pay for it. It also still is a thrill when I see an interview or a picture of mine in a magazine,” Jones said.

Jones has lived in San Diego, Calif., for six years. He enjoys the weather and the abundance of skate parks California has to offer.

“I can walk outside my door every day to sunshine and a skate park,” Jones said. “ I always think about moving back to Baltimore, but I would really miss the easy access to so many parks.”

When Jones was growing up, skate parks in Baltimore were scarce. He would gather a few of his friends, one being Charm City Skate Park owner Jason Chapman, and skate at Landsdowne Skate Park.

“When I look back now, I see that skate parks in Baltimore have come a long way but still have a far ways to go. My parents would take me and my friends to Landsdowne every weekend because they didn’t want me to skate in the streets,” Jones said.

Jones says when he was younger, his friends and he would have to drive three hours to a skate park other than Landsdowne. The park, Cheap Skates, was located in Pennsylvania. Other skate parks Jones would visit were located in Ocean City, Md., and New Jersey.

“Skateboarding was never accepted when I started out in the sport. That was one of the reasons I liked doing it. Now, though, it has become more accepted and that’s why you see more parks around the Baltimore area,” Jones said.

Skate parks are an important asset to skateboarding today because they help improve a skater’s skills, Jones says. With the growing popularity of the sport Jones predicts there will be more parks built along the East Coast. One of Jones’ sponsors is Skate Wave. This company is known for building safe playgrounds for children; however, in the past few years this company has taken on building skate parks.

“Skate Wave combines the approach of having a safe place for kids to go but it also is a skate park so they can have fun,” Jones said.

Jones went on a tour for a month across the United States with the Skate Wave team. The tour’s purpose was to promote skate parks.

“Skate Wave does do a good job with getting the kids involved, but I think they could improve the ramps some to make them more challenging,” Jones said.

There are “skate spots” in Baltimore that Jones likes to go to and encourages other skaters to visit. There is a skate ramp in a barn in Sparrows Point, Md. that Jones and his friends like to skate. Jones also likes to go downtown to the places where he would go to as an amateur.

“We like to skate new places, but it’s also fun to go back to the spots where we did a trick and try to do something bigger,” Jones said.

Jones likes the direction skateboarding is going, and he especially wants to see the sport grow in Baltimore to be on the same level as it is on the West Coast. Jones says the only obstacle blocking the growth of skateboarding on the east coast is the weather.

“Baltimore is a prime example of just how far skateboarding can progress. The only thing holding it back is the weather. Compared to when I first started out, Baltimore’s skate scene has evolved into a positive alternative kids can look to instead of being punished for doing. I think skating is only going to go up from here in Baltimore,” Jones said.

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