Rodney Torres Kickflip  Queens New York

Rodney Torres – JFK Banks Kickflip (photo: Ryan Zimmerman)

Since the late 90’s professional skateboarder Rodney Torres has been a major player in the New York skateboarding community. Commonly known as the King of Queens he has put Queens on the map especially the iconic Flushing Meadows unisphere spot which he could consider his second home. He has mentored a great deal of locals here in New York and has been a part of several brands throughout the years, most recently his new company TORRO!. We caught up with Rodney for an interview and here’s what the King of Queens had to say.

NYSB: Tell us about the first time you ever skated Flushing?

RT: Man, the first time I ever skated Flushing Meadows Corona Park was basically the first time I really skated. My dad used to be on a soccer team back then and they would train on the fields near the globe. I’ve always had a skateboard growing up, wether it was a “ninja board” or a “banana board” and on the weekends, my mom would take me to go watch my dad play at the park. I would bring my board with me and ride around at the globe which at the time was nothing but gravel ground surrounding the unisphere. I was just psyched to be there pushing around. Shortly after, I was on my block when I saw an older kid ollie up a curb. I was blown away. I couldn’t believe it. I had to learn how to do that and asked the kid if he could teach me. That same day I learned how to ollie, begged my parents to buy me a “professional skateboard” so I could practice, and headed straight to Flushing Meadows.

Basically, my dad bought me my first real set up when I was 11 years old and I’ve been skating at Flushing Meadows Corona Park ever since. As a matter of fact, I was there last night with a couple of homies haha!

NYSB: Who in the NY skate community influenced you the most and how?

RT: I’ve had many influences growing up. There’s so many people that I look up to and respect from the community, but the one person who took me under his wing, believed in me, helps me out to this day and is still a big influence for me is Jefferson Pang, New York City’s first professional skateboarder. I’m proud to have annoyed the sh** out of him as a kid hahahhaa! and I’m thankful for his friendship and help over the years. Jeff, if you’re reading this. Thank you.

NYSB: What NBD’s (never been done) are you most proud of?

RT: Honestly, all of them hahaha!.. Nah, seriously though, I think the one I’m most proud of is the front blunt backside flip out at the pyramid ledges. I worked really hard for that one during that time and even though I landed it kinda sketchy, I’m still psyched I did it.

NYSB: You just went through some surgery and rehab, what was that experience like?

RT: Yeah, I had knee surgery in 2011 and was out for about a year. It was a crazy experience because I was awake for the whole thing. I have a history of asthma that gets triggered around allergy season and due to that they couldn’t put me to sleep. They said it could make my breathing situation worse, so they decided to do an epidural. Basically, the injected my spine to numb my legs so they can do the procedure. I was paralyzed for hours. Luckily, I didn’t feel any pain before, during, or after the surgery. The craziest feeling was when I started to get the feeling back to legs. It felt like heat flowing from my toes to my waist. it was crazy. After some healing time, I just had to work on strengthening my leg which I still do to this day. I’m definitely psyched to be back on the board.

NYSB: As a seasoned veteran of the skateboarding industry what type of advice would you give kids aspiring to be professional skateboarders?

RT: The best advice I can give to kids aspiring to be professional skateboarders is that it’s cool to chase your dreams, but don’t overlook your reality. Stay true to the ones that are true to you. Be loyal and remain humble. Know that the best thing about skateboarding is skateboarding and never forget why you started. Because it’s fun. Everything else will fall into place if and when it’s meant to.

NYSB: When and how did you decide to start TORRO!?

RT: I decided to start TORRO! to support the kids here in New York City. I felt like that’s something that was missing. A brand that contributes to the growth and development of the kids from our community. Not a big sponsored event, not a contest or party, but a solid foundation. A platform that gives the local talent here a chance to shine and helps them progress not just as skaters, but as people. Through the years, there’s been so much talent that’s come out of NYC that has been over looked or weren’t even given a chance. I’m coming in to help give kids that chance.

NYSB:  How is TORRO! different from other skateboarding companies?

RT: TORRO! is different from other skateboard companies because it’s 100% NYC skateboarding.

NYSB: Tell us a little about the TORRO! team.

RT: The TORRO! team is rad. All up and coming rippers. One of the best kids from each borough. We’ve got Leo Heinert from Staten Island, Joseph Gil from the Bronx, Dennis Miron from Brooklyn and Alejandro Batista from Queens. I’m really psyched on all of these kids and I’m proud to support their skating.

NYSB: As both skater and owner of Torro, is it hard to switch roles? Does one help the other?

RT: I wouldn’t say it’s hard to switch rolls. I’d say it’s a good balance that equally requires a lot of my time. I’m always doing as much as I can for my brand on and off the board, so both rolls definitely help.

NYSB: Is being a New York based board company harder than being a California based brand? Why?

RT: I think we’ve always had lot against us, mainly the brutal winters, but being a New York board company doesn’t mean that it’s harder than being a California based brand. Over the years, I’ve seen more cali companies come and go than brands here in New York. I think we all equally have to work really hard on our brands, no matter what coast we’re in or from. Although it may seem easier for a California based brand to succeed, it’s probably a lot harder because there’s so much more competition out there. Our industry is growing here in NYC and it’s good time for small skater owned brands to contribute to it’s development.

NYSB: What’s TORRO! got on deck for 2014?

We’re working on a couple of projects. You’re just have to wait and see. 😉

NYSB: How do you feel about the current state of affairs in skateboarding?

RT: It’s a tough time right now, but the ones that are in it for the right reasons will continue to contribute to skateboarding.

NYSB: Bonus question, how that heck do I get 360 flips on lock like you?

RT: haha! I dunno man, eat some empanadas. That worked for me. hahaha!