‘A dream come true:’ former pro skater brings his skills to kids in Long Beach

When Long Beach native Kurtis Colamonico looked out on the more than 70 kids who came to the Skate Kids demo session at last month’s Beach Streets, he saw it as proof of how far his skateboard-tutoring business had come.

It was a high point for the former professional skateboarder turned dedicated father—a guy who has a tattoo on the entire front of his torso dedicated to his hometown. Working with a handful of other pro and amateur skateboarders also on his payroll that day, Colamonico and the Skate Kids team coached the dozens of giddy elementary school kids through their first balancing act on a board.

From right, coach Kevin Miranda teaches 9-year-old Jaclyn Richards how to kickturn during Skate Kids, a skateboarding class in Yorba Linda on Saturday, September 1, 2018. Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer

The idea for Skate Kids started in 2011 when Colamonico’s son Kruz was born. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to fully embrace fatherhood if he were skating with his friends or traveling for competitions full time, he decided it was time to trade in the board that brought him success throughout the 2000s for something more sustainable. Watching Kruz take to that same board as a toddler was all it took to inspire a whole new second career.

“He opened up my eyes to teaching other kids, because I was getting older and knew I couldn’t skate forever,” Colamonico, now 34, said. “I’d always wanted to be a teacher, so when I was thinking about what I could fall back on, I figured why not teach what I love?”

Skate Kids demo session

Skate Kids demo session.

Posted by Long Beach Post on Thursday, September 6, 2018

In 2014, Colamonico founded Skate Kids and began offering private skateboarding lessons to kids all over Long Beach and Orange County. But what started as one-on-one and small-group lessons slowly evolved into a more impactful business.

Because of Colamonico’s connections, major skateboarding companies donated equipment to host bigger events—such as week-long summer camps—while school districts and city governments began to shed the outdated negative attitudes towards skateboarding that Colamonico himself dealt with growing up. Soon, he was getting contracts to run after-school programs at elementary schools and for at-risk teenagers in Yorba Linda and Anaheim.

In 2016, Colamonico signed a contract with the city of Long Beach to teach his craft at the bi-annual transportation-focused Beach Streets events. While he’s still working on spreading his on-campus, after-school program into Long Beach schools, through regular events—plus the lessons, camps, and birthday parties he hosts both at local parks as well as in the driveways and neighborhoods of private client—allow the mentor to spread his skateboarding love across the city where he himself first learned the sport.

“Being back in Long Beach and teaching the kids here is a dream come true for me,” Colamonico said. “I grew up skating El Dorado [Skate Park] and some of these other parks, so now it’s like it’s all come full circle. I love Long Beach and the people here, and I’m looking forward to doing a lot more in Long Beach in the next year or two.”

From right, Kurtis Colamonico teaches seven-year-old Alice Li how to turn while ridding a skateboard during Skate Kids, a skateboarding class in Yorba Linda on Saturday, September 1, 2018. Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer

With Skate Kids’ recent growth, Colamonico has moved beyond his original focus of teaching dedication, health and creativity through the art of skateboarding and now also teaches workshops where students learn to take apart and rebuild their own skateboards. Aside from helping kids develop a better understanding of the board itself, he believes that working with the small tools develops fine motor skills in ways they might not otherwise get.

“I try to integrate everything I can to help the kids excel as fast as possible in so many different ways through skateboarding,” Colamonico said.

Of course, Colamonico is also learning plenty of skills himself as his business expands. Just like how he once put hundreds of hours into improving his tricks at the skate park, the entrepreneur’s latest tricks are all learned on his laptop. Corporate basics like composing an email used to take him hours, but they’re now done in 15 minutes. Managing his own schedule used to be a challenge by itself, but now he’s hoping to open Skate Kids up to other professional skateboarders looking to step down from the competitive scene.

More than anything, the biggest lesson he’s learned has been the same one he teaches on a daily basis.

“It’s really just about not giving up, which is the same thing I preach to the kids and the same thing I did during my skateboarding career,” Colamonico said. “I’ve watched a lot of people get so close to breaking ground following their dreams, but then they go back to working a 9-to-5 because they need it at that moment. Skateboarding taught me to live through that struggle in order to succeed. It’s been a lot of learning, working and focusing, but I get to see hundreds of kids smiling and skateboarding now because of it.”

For more information, visit WeAreSkateKids.com or email [email protected]

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