BLAKE COOPER - HUGHES
Taking On the Half-Pipe
The first time I dropped into a half-pipe on my skateboard I felt like I was looking off the edge of the Earth. It was just a little half-pipe at the local skate park, but I was pretty young, so it seemed enormous. I was positive I’d get hurt if I went through with it, but Dad and Papa were standing right next to me, cheering me on. It took forever for me to finally get up the nerve, but when I finally dropped in, I knew I wanted to do it again. And again and again.
I love skateboarding for the thrill—there’s nothing like landing your first trick or soaring down an incline on your board. But I love it mostly because it’s something Dad, Papa, and I do together. It keeps us close as a family.
I’ve always loved playing sports. When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be old enough to try out for baseball and football. Baseball ended up being way too slow for me, and the football coach said I was athletic but needed to work on how to actually play the game. I couldn’t be bothered to think about all those rules and my teammates when I just wanted to run and score. I didn’t make either team, and even though I knew neither was the right sport for me, I felt really down. I wanted to play something and be good at it!
A few days later, Dad came home with three skateboards. “We’ll start a skateboarding team!” he announced.
I thought he was joking at first—neither of them had ever played a sport in their lives! But he meant it. Every weekend we all strapped on our helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads and skated at the skate park for hours. It was awesome, and I was actually pretty good!
This year I entered my first skating competition, and the half-pipe was the biggest one I’d ever skated on. Dad and Papa spent all of their free time helping me master it. When I fell a few times and wanted to back out, they encouraged me to try again. They did research about new techniques I could try and always listened to me talk through what was tripping me up.
On the day of the competition, when I looked down before I dropped in, I had that feeling like I was looking over the edge of the Earth again. My hands were a little shaky, and I thought of just walking down instead. But on the side of the park, I could see Dad and Papa were pressed against the gate. They were always in the front of the crowd cheering me on. I knew I could do it, and I could feel their support all the way up there as I hovered on the edge. So I took a breath and did it for them, even though I was scared. I didn’t win this time or anything, but my dads are already talking about how to prepare for the next competition. They’re so proud of me for working hard at something I love, and that’s enough.