Preparations Meets Opportunity
By Cash W. Lambert
Josh Douglas has calculated the risk and he thinks that it’s a risk well worth taking: moving. Going for it. Betting on himself. At least for a month or two.
It’s a frequent pilgrimage conducted by South Florida action sport athletes: spending time in California to see first hand the industry on steroids. The competition. The cameras, the lights, the action. And how the skills you possess measure up.
Which is why Josh is leaving the safe confines of home in South Florida. If you’ve never met him, you can find his presence frequently at local contests, Ramp 48, and the skate park in West Boynton Beach. And he’s made his name in the area, with sponsors such as Island Water Sports, Lakai, Ramp 48, Thundertrucks and Spitfire.
And today, because I asked, 19-year-old Josh is looking back at the preparation that has led to this opportunity. But just for today, because the past is nostalgia and he’s too young and free to be thinking about such for too long.
“I was born in Maryland and moved to Florida when I was around 9,” he says. “I didn’t skate in Maryland. Not too much of a scene there. When I did come down to Florida, to Boca Raton, it was kinda like culture shock, there’s this real good surf and skate culture and I wasn’t too familiar with that. So I wanted to take part in skating. I saw Lords of Dogtown, and was really hyped on it around age 10. I really wanted to skate. I found a good group of kids to skate with, and when I moved here everyone was better than me. I needed to progress to keep up with what they were doing. We started filming, that led into contests.”
“It sounds like you found a core group of friends in the scene, and that can be hard to come by.”
“Yeah, it’s not discriminatory,” he says. “Everyone gets along because we all share the same passion.”
“What are some things you’ve taken away from contests in our area?” I ask.
He begins without pausing: “To not stress over it, over contests. Normally skating…it’s really natural, it’s a feeling and you don’t have to think too much. It’s all based on muscle memory. If you go to contests and you’re stressed out, worried about the judges… it’s not going to help at all. The more fun you’re having, the more it will translate onto the board. You don’t have to stress and you usually won’t do good if you do stress. I have fun with friends, and just be free and loose. Not even worrying about where you finish too, because it will come down to who put in the most work when you’re not at the contest.”
“It’s obvious that South Florida does have it’s limitations within the skate scene. Do you think these have hampered you, or in a sense made you?” I inquire.
“Kids will get into it here and you’ll see who really likes it, you know? You can go to a skate park one year and come back the next year and see the ones who are actually passionate. Kids get good in other places so quick because the weather is incredible…they can try for 3 years and be as good as someone here who tries for 4 or 5 years. And a lot of it depends on drive. Kids here that are passionate about it are going to be more driven to push themselves through adversity than other places where things are candy coated. Here, skating in humidity…it’ll say 86 degrees but feel like 106. Whether you like it or not, it’s a lot tougher to skate here.” He laughs. “I’m trying to film a trick and 6 tries in I’m soaking in sweat.”
“And all of this has now led to you heading out to California for a month or two to size up that scene,” I say.
He continues: “Nowadays there’s so many kids trying to go big. If you want to be professional, you have to really want it. There’s so many kids that are saying ‘sponsor me, sponsor me’ and because I care about it as much as I do, I want to make a living at it. So I like to skate switch, because when I was growing up my parents would see my shoes, and one would be super ripped up and the other perfect, so I would skate switch to make my shoes last twice as long. And my parents help out whenever they can, they’re supporters. They’ve been helping me save up all my contest winnings in order to do the trip.”
Josh has seen and skated well in pressure filled situations, and he’s been west before. But this time, although it’s yet to be written what he will feel at select moments, he talks calm and he talks prepared. That’s why we’re talking about him, and why we can’t wait to see what comes of it.