Words and photos by Rob Hoovis.
Video by Frank Branca
"Ghetto Birds & Spring Rolls"
Lakai comes to town.
Coming up with a title to an article is one of the hardest things about writing one. You want
something that grabs people's attention. But it also has to sum up the article to some extent. This
particular set of words is about Skatepark of Tampa & the Lakai all ages Spring Roll contest. An event that took place on Saturday, April 25, 2014 and brought Sebo Walker & Daniel
Espinoza into town for the whole weekend. As I look at that last sentence, I realize it’s not even
true. The contest isn’t going to be the focus of the article really. Sorry but I didn’t see enough of
it to say much about it. Sebo & Daniel’s trip to Tampa & a bunch of chickens at Brian Schaefer’s
house - that’s going to be the the focus!
I actually thought I was done with filming skateboarding…again. A brief return at the Tampa
Pro contest & then back to filming Fort Myers’s finest business people hocking their wares, and
changing my son’s diapers while trying to avoid being pooped on was going to be my fate, which
is a fine fate…I have no complaints. Then the phone rang again (it was an email, but a ringing
phone is always more dramatic) SPoT’s big boss Brian, asking if I could come up & assist Frank
Branca with filming Sebo & Daniel over the weekend, shoot some photos, & write an article - this
one. “Yes!” was the response in my mind, kiss the wife & kids, pack everything, & I was off.
Daniel & Sebo arrived in Tampa Friday night. They stayed right in the middle of Ybor & of
course took in some of Tampa’s robust nightlife. Upon my arrival in Tampa early Saturday,
Brian asked if I would go back to his place & pick their hungover asses up. You never know what
you’re going to get when you meet new people. Not every highly skilled skateboarder is a great
human being. On some occasions I might even describe some of the people I’ve met as assholes.
I’m glad to report that these two gentlemen were some of the better people I’ve ever met in
skating & from the minute they opened the door, I had a feeling that things would go well that
weekend. Picking them up at Brian’s was also the first time I saw the ghetto birds…A bunch of
chickens running around the neighborhood that Brian’s in. They were so random…I’ll get back
to that later.
My first official job upon getting to the park was to interview them both for upcoming episodes
of “SPoT On” which I did & I will say this: I’ve now done quite a few of these interviews &
Daniel & Sebo both did a great job. Answered every question in detail & even put up with my
“please don’t move, there’s a shallow depth of field” horse malarky. After that it was on to
watching some of the contest. I’ll tell you what - as a person who doesn’t live in Tampa, there is
some great skating up there. Like, really solid. Some of what I witnessed there I could only
describe as “Tampa Am Lite”. Kids were good & it was a lot better than I expected. Finally, we
finished the day at the park with Sebo doing some of the most unique, creative, & just plain cool
skating out in the ledge & manny pad setup in the courtyard. Sebo’s going places. I mean, riding for
Krooked & Lakai, he’s already somewhere - but I’m pretty sure he’ll be every skater’s favorite one day soon…
Saturday night ended at The Bricks. A place I had only been to once for coffee. I want to take the
time to thank Brian for the great food & good times. He obviously made sure that his whole
SPoT crew had a good time after a successful event & everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I
also want to take the time now & throw the people at Pabst a proper shout out….People can say
what they want about Pabst, but when you drink an ice cold, frosty, tall Pabst it’s like having an
angel massage your taste buds. It’s that good - or it was that night anyway. I had a few. Most
people know this, but Tampa is considered by many the “adult entertainment capital of
America”, luckily we were out of there & back home again before things got to that. Maybe next
time - there was skating to do the next day…
Sunday morning brought with it a slight hangover. Damn you Sunday morning! After a couple
coffees & a healthy movement, it got better. Now back to those chickens. How the hell is there
chickens in a downtown type of area? I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve seen wild chickens - I
live in Florida - but never in a metropolitan area. While Ybor is certainly not Wall Street, it is still
a bustling area & the chickens hanging around in front of Schaefer’s house were fascinating to me.
I originally wanted to call this article “The wild cocks of Ybor” or something to that effect. I
didn’t because my editor (Brian) would never let that one fly (see what I did there). He hates the
words “cock” or “cocks.” He can’t stand cocks so I decided not to write it. Anyway - chickens.
Sunday was the big day as far as skating. Frank & Brian had planned a serious mission. Our crew
that day was Sebo, Daniel, Brian, Eric McKenney, Sam Bellipanni, and myself. First stop,
Lakeland! I am old & arthritic, so I don’t get to as many parks as when I was young & arthritic.
Lakeland is one of the finest parks in America. It’s one of the few parks out that looks better in
person than it does on video. It is supremely skate-able & offers something for everyone. I won’t
bother with a full recap of the tricks of the day, but check Frank's edit out. You’ll see there was
plenty of ridiculous skating. Brian almost killed a kid & Daniel Espinoza is good. He stopped
playing phone Sudoku long enough to casually annihilate the place. I got my photos, we met up
with all around excellent human, Aaron Austin & moved on to some street skating.
Lakeland has spots! Just saying…Andrew Reynolds grew up in a good place to skate because for a
smaller city, Lakeland has plenty. After the best Mexican food of all time, we stopped at a ledge
going down hill, Eric, Sam, Daniel & Sebo did something awesome, blah, blah, blah, & we
moved on. Look at the edit & the photos.
After the ledge spot we went to a little manual pad into a bank type situation. At this point, I had
been dumb enough to stand directly in the sun for over an hour about 5 stories up to shoot some
sequences & video and was near passing out. It was actually pretty scary. Never been that
close to having a full blown heatstroke. Listen up: Hydrate yourselves in the Florida heat & take
a break if needed - that shit will kill you. My over 40 status & pack-a-day habit certainly didn’t
help. More ripping ensued on the ledge/manny pad, with Sebo, Sam, & Aaron all getting something.
Eric had taken a slam & Daniel was Sudoku-ing, so it was a three-man session with Franky Fisheye
getting all the action. People will never realize just how hard it is to skate certain spots & this spot
was pretty damn #EastCoast. On to the next spot…
As an end to a long day of skating & a gathering of clips & photos which has to rival any one day
mission ever, it was time to have some real fun…We left Lakeland & headed to Seamus' mini
ramp. Thanks Seamus! Great meeting you! After shooting the ramp with my new flying camera
& one last photo, it was time to finally skate a little. Again, no need for a big recap, but it was a
great end to a great day & everyone got to get a little session in including Brian, myself, & Frank,
who all spent most of the day on media duty. BTW, if you ever get a chance to skate a mini ramp
with Sebo, do it. It doesn’t suck.
We had a beer or two, shot the shit & headed back to the park. it was truly a good weekend & I
don’t say that because I’m writing an article about it. If it had sucked - I’d say so, but it was a
phenomenal time. I want to send a sincere thanks to Brian, Frank, Sebo, Daniel, Sam, Eric,
Mikah, Casey, Aaron, and everyone else at SPoT for all the assistance & for generally being fine
folks! I want to say thanks to those ghetto chickens for being yourselves. Don’t ever change. See
you soon. I hope.
Sunday morning squad outside Schaefer's house.
A little shout out to Josh Stewart.
Down Ybor Strip.
Frankie Fish-Eye on the job - killing it!
A little behind-the-scenes action for this episode of SPoT Life.
Mass Media event.
Headed to Lakeland Skatepark. Here's my view in the van: Eric McKinney and Uncle Sam.
Here's a partial view of the Lakeland Park.
Here's Sebo Walker with a mellow-to-tight BS noseblunt.
Daniel Espinoza: BS Smith on the big block.
Daniel Espinoza was ripping this big block all day. Here's a FS tailslide to fakie.
Taking a break in the Lakeland shade.
Daniel Espinoza is stronger than you are.
After we left the Lakeland park, the crew hit some other spots around town. Eric McKenney got a mean kickflip BS tailslide to fakie on this ledge.
Uncle Sam got some tricks on it too. Here's a nollie lipslide shuv out.
After getting back to Tampa, we met up at Seamus' house for a mini ramp session. Check the video to see what went down.
...And that's it for this episode of SPoT Life. Thanks to Lakai for making this year's Spring Roll another success, and big thanks to Daniel Espinoza and Sebo Walker for coming out and skating with us. See you at the next Damn Am!