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In my very early teenage years my Step Father began teaching me the importance of managing my money. He also showed me a few different easy ways to make money at my age. Mowing yards, washing cars, pet sitting; all these things made me an unnecessary amount of cash for a 12 year old. So, naturally my Step Father began teaching me the importance of saving.

My only reason for wanting to work was so I could buy new boards, new shoes or any other thing I may need to keep me skating.

By the time I was a freshman in High School I had saved over $3000 just from mowing yards each summer. In my head I was rich! Through my teenage years I also became obsessed with skateboarding. Skateboarding is what I spent my money on. Nothing else. My only reason for wanting to work was so I could buy new boards, new shoes or any other thing I may need to keep me skating. Asking my parents was not an option. If it wasn’t for that I probably would have done what all my other friends were doing every summer, being a kids. Skateboarding was changing me without my knowing and it soon began playing a very pivotal role in my life.

Summers were spent waking up at 5am Monday through Friday. My uncle, who owned a landscaping company, would pick me up at 6am and we would get to our first yard of the day by 7am. Most days we would finish around 2pm, some days 4 or 5pm. I would then be dropped off at home where I would sometimes shower, but most times just grab my skateboard from the garage and locate my friends. I would skateboard until the sun came down and wouldn’t come home until I heard my Mom yelling my name. Eventually I wasn’t skateboarding as much as I wanted to be so I started bringing my board with me to work. Usually I was the guy edging, weed-eating, blowing the grass away or trimming hedges. So I would finish quick and practice flat ground tricks while the other guys were finishing up their jobs.

No amount of pain from falling or getting hit by the board in the shins or twisting an ankle could be worse than waking up at 5am as a 13 year old during summer break to go landscape all day.

As I got better at skateboarding it gave me so much motivation to keep working. Yes I just wanted to sleep in and enjoy summer break. Of course I would rather be skateboarding than sitting in a stinky truck between two sweaty men all day long. Somehow I was able to turn on the blinders and focus my attention on the big picture: Supporting my skateboard addiction. I was dedicated. My life changed when I landed my first ollie, then again when I landed my first kickflip. No amount of pain from falling or getting hit by the board in the shins or twisting an ankle could be worse than waking up at 5am as a 13 year old during summer break to go landscape all day. I would still do that with the hurt ankle, by the way! Understanding the importance of hard work is why I got so good at skateboarding. Putting 100% effort into everything I did helped me to progress and develop my style. I saw the changes as they happened. I could tell I was getting better and I loved that feeling!

Skateboarding taught me how to get back up and keep trying even if I was exhausted. It taught me how to be introspective as well as open minded. It introduced me to hip hop, heavy metal and punk music. I think outside of the box because of skateboarding. I see the world differently because of a piece of wood with four wheels! I find beauty in destruction and will forever be attracted to the sound of metal grinding on concrete. I’ve learned how to work with my hands and be a perfectionist. I’ve created connections all across the country and have been able to live in some of the best places for skateboarding. My life now would not be the same had I not seen a group of kids at my school playing S.K.A.T.E one fateful day back in 1999.

Now, coming full circle, skateboarding is why I am in to photography and videography. I learned how to shoot because, as skateboarders, you and your friends want to document your tricks as you learn them. It’s just what you did. So if your crew had a camera, everyone filmed and everyone shot photos. We would watch skate videos and buy Thrasher Magazine to see how the pros did it, then copy it. I have angles engraved in my brain because I’ve seen them so many times. I’ve studied the magazines and videos and have a huge appreciation for those who paved the path before me. My idols in skateboarding are still iconic to this day. They have grown older and changed over the years but I’ve grown with them and learned from them. I am who I am today because of skateboarding and I am damn proud of it. I only hope that one day I can have as heavy of an impact on other people as skateboarding had on me.

Nathan Hutsenpiller is a freelance photographer & Ecommerce Manager at KCDC Skateshop. Check out more of his photography over on his website.