Skaters Who Shaped Us – Part 5

In this installment, we have Mark ‘Frocker’ Hewitt and Ryan Bradley. 

Mark Hewitt is, I would say, one of Coventry’s skateboarding royalty. He’s a dark lord of transition skating, but can tackle all terrain. Always with a welcoming attitude, he’s always down to skate, hang out, or drive a few of us to go shopping at a 24hr Asda at 11 o’ clock at night. Mark used to run a Coventry Scene blog long before I started The Terrible Company, and I would say he has inspired a lot of my endeavours in skateboarding. The skater who shaped him is proof that those in your local scene can be just as important as big name pro skaters when it comes to forging our path in skateboarding. 

Ryan Bradley has been a frequent contributor to this blog for almost 10 years: acting as a filmer on videos, photographer, and more recently writing blog posts sharing his knowledge of skateboard photography. His skills on a skateboard match his skills behind the camera, and his particular style is clearly fuelled by a specific era of mid-2000s skater. The person who inspired him will likely resonate with many others who began skateboarding at that time. 

Mark ‘Frocker’ Hewitt – Jim The Skin

Up until around 2008, I consumed as much skateboard media as I could. I’d buy at least two magazines a month, lurked heavily on online forums and kept up with the latest footage. I’ve got a huge collection of VHS videos, and around five big boxes of carefully catalogued magazines to vouch for this obsession – I was a skate nerd! I still skate as much as I’ve always done, but my will to keep up with everything has diminished. When I think of skaters that have influenced me, I can mentally scan through sections, interviews, anecdotes, drunken antics, road trips, gigs, parties, fights, you name it. People come and go. People pass in and out of skating. 

For some the passion is inconstant, for others a constant. In the end it doesn’t really matter. We’ve all taken a journey on this rolling toy, it’s just taken some further than others. Everyone I’ve ever (or never) skated with has been an influence, be it at the curb down the road from me, or on a taped copy of a taped copy of an American VHS from 1997. However, it’s the constants that are the landmarks we navigate by, and the one fixed point in skateboarding for me has been Jim T Skin. 

I met him first through my friend Craig Cooper, who was one of the first guys to be sponsored by Ride. I’d tag along on lifts to various spots despite being crap at skating, and Jim was kind enough to extend an invite to whatever session was going down. As time passed, I became a regular at the Wednesday night Radlands trips, skating and making friends with people from all over the country and having the best time. I’d eventually go on to work for Ride, putting together the second shop video Humble Jumble, and working on the website whilst at University. The trips to Radlands turned into road trips to Cornwall, Livingstone and London. 

Jim has not only been an inspiration to skate with (going faster than you, pushing the best f/s smiths further than you and smashing down liens to tail louder than you) but also how he deals with people without artifice or bullshit – he’s the real fucking deal. No one has a bad word to say about him, and whenever I call to have a chat or order anything I always feel better having talked with him. He’s an amazing friend and I wish I got to skate with him more often. 

Ryan Bradley – Mike ‘Mo’ Capaldi

At the very beginning as a kid I found constant waves of skateboarders who inspired me into infatuation, triggering my growing love for the industry from an early age. From first witnessing the stature of Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, to then Eric Koston, Mike Carroll, Andrew Reynolds, and so on, my adoration for researching and discovering new talents quickly began. 

It wasn’t long before I found Mike Mo Capaldi’s parts, most notably his section in the Forecast video. By this point, I new street skating was what properly grasped my adolescent mind, it was also mere months prior to the time period Fully Flared was ready to come out back in 2007, which of course then happened, resulting in countless hours of re-watching the entire video. 

I was always heavily keen on the Girl/Lakai guys back in the mid 2000’s, the blockbuster team of main eventers they had was ridiculous. At the time, Mike Mo was the new spectacle and his part in Fully Flared was his real initiation into the industry. 

Witnessing his ambidextrous trick bag and style, followed by his conviction of tricks with utter fluidity completely captivated me and my own skateboarding. He looked like he was always having fun regardless of the hammer thrown – fun within his own attitude and style of skating. His parts and footage would always get me completely hyped to skate, even if it was only for a rainy flat ground session under a carpark in Kenilworth. 

All of this without a doubt shaped myself as a skateboarder, himself and his style opened up more doors for finding skateboarders alike, discovering different nichés and helping me see skateboarding could be taken to another level in another way. 

Honourable mention: Geoff Rowley

On another note, it would be rude of me not to mention Rowley. Growing up I had also been heavily interested in the Flip videos Sorry and Really Sorry, and watching his destruction of the US was shocking, especially while knowing he was native to the U.K. 

I also mention his name because he was the first pro I had ever met. I vividly remember going to the Volcom Stone Age tour at Ideal skate shop back in 2009 where Rowley was the poster boy for screen printing t shirts for the first 100 kids there. I went on my own at 16 because I knew it was a chance to meet one of my favourite pros and one of the gnarliest son of a guns to have existed.

After doing mine and the rest of the kids shirts, I waited until everyone else had basically left and until they were beginning to pack up because I was way too shy to be persistent, just for the chance of having a quick chat and potential photo with him. Rowley was then alone talking with Zippy, and once they were done I chose to approach what I found to be one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. 

They say don’t meet your heroes, but I can say that quote rendered the polar opposite to what I experienced. He was rad as fuck with me, we had a big chat and Zippy took the pleasure of shooting our photo. After that, I was totally made up and that moment will forever be cemented as another reason skateboarding inspired and shaped me by a single person.

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