Skateboarding team first in SDSL

The TPHS skateboarding team won second place in the second San Diego Skateboarding League contest on April 19 at Mission Valley Skate Park. Alex Willms (11) won first in the street event, Travis Rivera (9) won first in the bowl event and Justin Rivera (12) won second in the bowl event, ranking the team No. 1 in the league.

The team won the first SDSL contest on March 22. Travis Rivera placed first and third in the street and bowl events, respectively,  while Cole Cavanaugh (12) won second in the street event and Justin Rivera won second in the bowl event.

According to head coach and former professional skateboarder Neal Mims, three SDSL competitions are held at skate parks throughout San Diego before the tournament finals. Only seven skaters from each school can compete, five for the street events and two for the bowl events.

“[The league] adds up all the points from each contest at the end for the finals, and then they decide who [wins],” Mims said. “So say [the team] gets second place or third place a couple times, it’s still building points.”
Individual awards from competitions can also help the team get into first place by adding points to the team’s overall point total, Mims said.

According to Cavanaugh, in contests, each skateboarder gets two 45-second runs to do tricks in front of a panel of judges. The top 10 move on to the finals and are judged based on creativity, difficulty of tricks, style and balance.
Outside of competitions, the team members practice together with Mims once a week, usually at the Encinitas YMCA Skate Park, to work on tricks and contest runs, according to Mims.

“It’s so inconsistent, no matter how good you get and how long you’ve been skating — the caliber of tricks being done now and the technicality of skating, there’s no way to perfect [them],” Mims said.

Cavanaugh and Willms think that the team members have to work on their consistency while skating.

“Getting certain tricks or the tricks that you’re good at down, and being able to do them every try [is important] so that you don’t fall in your line,” Cavanaugh said. “That hurts your score a lot.”

TPHS has won first in both the SDSL and the National Scholastic Skateboarding League for the past two years, according to Tiffany Rivera, whose two sons, Travis and Justin, are on the team.

“[In the first] year, when they formed their team … they won their league … and then went on to the finals,” Tiffany Rivera said. “They competed against Orange County high schools, and they won overall. [TPHS] has been dominating for the last two years, and are now well on their way [to winning again].”

Canyon Crest Academy, La Costa Canyon High School, Point Loma High School, Sage Creek High School and San Dieguito Academy all compete in the SDSL high school division with TPHS. The top teams in the league go on to compete in the NSSL later in the season.

“It’s pretty difficult to [win] because a bunch of schools in Orange County also compete against us,” Willms said. “It’s hard to beat them, too, because there [are] much better skateboarders out there.”

Skateboarding is not yet recognized as a CIF sport, and while the team does not have specific plans to apply for CIF status, members hope to generate more interest among TPHS students.

But two members of the team — Justin and Travis — have taken their passion for skateboarding beyond California and into Shanghai, and at the time the Falconer went to press, attended the Kia World Extreme Games, where Mims is a judge. Justin said that it was an “honor” to be invited to the games, which are held from April 30 to May 3.

The TPHS team will compete in the third SDSL contest on May 9 at the Encinitas YMCA Skate Park. Top skaters in the SDSL will move on to the finals against the Orange County Skateboarding League on May 22 at Etnies Skate Park in Lake Forest.

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