Jay, you seem to pop out of the shadows every so often like a skateboarding superhero to either run a skate park, a skate shop, or a skateboarding school. Let’s start at the beginning, when did you first pick up a skateboard and what kind was it?
I picked up my first skateboard in 1984. My friend Mike Nelson had a Thrasher Magazine at his house, I opened the pages, and was immediately attracted to what I saw. Dudes flying in the air on a skateboard. What?! I new immediately I wanted to be a part of what I saw in the pages of that magazine. My first legit board was a Ray “Bones” Rodriguez or the old Sword and Skull with some hand me down Gullwings and big ass green Kryptonic wheels. A life changer to put it lightly.
You’ve been in the area for a while, but what was your original local skate spot?
My parents divorced when I was young, so I floated back and forth between Brandon and St. Petersburg. Most of my early skateboarding happened In Brandon. We had a rad setup at Erik and Scott Blake's house. Always a half-pipe, street obstacles and later on a wooden kidney bowl. In my early teens I rode for a skate shop, Skaters Connection, in Brandon. So a lot of my early days were spent in B-Town. Then later on I rode for and worked at Inland Surf Shop in Gainesville Florida, still my favorite job to this day! However, I'm a St.Pete native born at Saint Anthony's hospital in Downtown St.Pete. Shout out to all the St.Pete OG shredders.
Who were the other skaters in your crew at that time?
Man, we had a large crew in Brandon. Gary Crowley (R.I.P), Erik and Scott Blake, Shawn Mcdonald, Chi Miyoushi, Dave Decker, Kieth Remington, Brian Copley, Jason Hearn, David Crawford, Brian Shaefer, Kevin Coss, Edwin Velez, Kieth Remington, Alan Boyd, Scott Tetzlaff and many more. The Brandon skate scene was heavy in the eighties, so was the music scene. Skateboarding, punk shows, and more skateboarding. That's how we all rolled
Did you ever think you’d be running a skate shop, and is this your third or fourth?
In the eighties and early nineties, everything we did as skateboarders was fully DIY out of necessity. There were really no skate parks so we had to build everything we rode. As we started building we also started organizing contests, jams in backyards and parking lots. I guess the natural progression was to get more organized and start something bigger. I was a part of the original skate park of Tampa Crew in 93’ I helped at SPoT events, and would drive from Gainesville and stay at the warehouse with all of the Canadians and Tampians (crazy times). I also helped organize and build contest setups in the parking lot of Inland Surf Shop in the early 90’s with Andy Anderson and Rob Byjorkland aka “The Senator”. That was my first taste of dealing with the Skateboarding industry on a business level by getting sponsors for the Inland Skate Shop events. Then years later I managed Central Skate Park in Clearwater. I then started the Skateboarding Association of America. Soon after I bought Central Skate Park and changed the name to 688 Skate Park. I opened a second skate shop in Clearwater connected to the Ross Norton Skate Park at the same time. This was all from 1998 - 2014. I took two years off to get a degree, then started working at the Skate Park of Tampa as Operations Manager for almost a year. Now,I own Anchor Skate Supply in Downtown St.Pete Florida. The shop is about 1800 feet from the St. Petersburg Regional Skate Park. There's a ton in between, so never really took a break.
When did you hook up with the City to start teaching skateboarding?
I started the camps and lessons at Central Skate Park in 1999 then 688 Skate Park. In 2008 I approached the City of St.Pete to start a lesson and camp program that is still active today. The business I own that runs the camps and lessons is called "School of Skatin". I own a bus and we travel to different skateboarding spots in the area. It's a really rad program for kids! One of my favorite things I've ever been involved with.
Your involvement in skateboarding got really serious when?
I guess when I started "Skateboarding Association of America" back in 1999. That was basically an amateur contest series that started in Florida and expanded to all over the United States from 1999 - 2010. The contest series was called the “Burning Across America Tour.” I got some heavy sponsors for the series during certain years which in turn helped me start 688 Skate Park. Skateboarding was huge in the early to mid 2000's and companies were throwing around money left and right.
Is street skateboarding your original skate stoke?
Man, in the eighties it was all about skating whatever was in front of you, so I learned to skate everything. Street, transition, and round wall. That’s what skateboarding is about to me... skating everything and not limiting yourself. I love skateboarding.
Who are your skateboarding heroes? All of my close friends I grew up skating with in Brandon, St. Pete and Gainesville, Florida. Plus, Mark Gonzales, Natas, Monty Nolder, John Cardiel and many more.
When did you get involved in the build a skate park scene?
I started building stuff early on, then it just progressed from there. I have helped build several concrete skate parks, countless ramps and street courses. I was on the Team Pain crew when they built Central Skate Park in 1998. Fast forward years later and Nick Nicks and myself started the St.Pete Skate Park Alliance, an advocacy group to build a Regional Skate Park in our beautiful home town St. Petersburg, Florida. It took about five in a half years and a lot of community support. The result is now we have the raddest skate park in Florida. The City of St.Pete and Team Pain were great to work with on the project.
When did you get the skate bus and how do kids sign up for lessons?
Got the Sk8 Bus in 2011. Parents can visit the website SchoolofSkatin.com and sign up online. We have seasonal skate camps, group lessons, private lessons, and Skate League.
Talk about your latest skate shop and what your goals with it are.
About a year ago I bought Anchor Skate Supply in Downtown St. Pete. The shop is 1800 feet from the St.Pete Regional Skate Park. Anchor Skate Shop is coming up on its three year anniversary. It’s rad to have a shop in my hometown. St.Pete is such a rad city with an amazing skate scene. I'm just happy to be a part of it all. I plan on doing what I've always done, keep skating, and supporting the skateboarding community to the best of my ability. Remember kids support you local skateboarder owned skate shop! Skate shops are and will always be important to skateboarding.
Now that we have a downtown skate park, and one in the City of Gulfport, where should the next couple of skate parks be built, and what skateboarding elements are missing on the central west coast of Florida?
Man, I think skate parks are popping up everywhere. There can always be new terrain built but I think we have all aspects covered in St.Pete and the Tampa Bay area.
Any last words or shout outs?
Thank you skateboarding and everyone that loves and supports it as much as I do. Some people don't think politics and skateboarding mix but that is a bunch BS. Skateboarding has always been an outlet to express yourself and speak out. So with that in mind get out and vote in 2020 kids. Lets get Trump out of office. Let's make it happen!