Tracy, how’s life in the heart of America? You still saving blading ten toes at a time?
Life is good out here in Rockford, IL. My twins girls are 2 years old and keeping us busier than ever! till adjusting to the weather, food and lifestyle — still miss California almost everyday. It’s been great reconnecting with old homies, blade brothers in Chicago, and being close to family with the girls.
Nah, we know you’re doing what you do to keep pushing where blading can be. Tell us about the upcoming Bearings & Bruises event?
Bearings & Bruises is a bike, board and blade contest that I run through the Rockford Park District, where I am a maintenance guy and skatepark coordinator. It first started in 2009 in conjunction with the RPD 100-year Anniversary, where they brought me out to run the three comps. So once I got back we decided to re-kindle the event. This is a permitted event, so we will have the park for rollerbladers only. No getting snaked by a biker or skateboarder pissed off that the event is taking over the park. There will a proper PA with DJ J-Glidd (former blader), gift bags provided by the Rockford Visitor & Convention bureau to all contestants, cash for the Elite winner, good prizes, medals… and good vibes! We will have five divisions: 9-under, 10-13, immediate, elite and the “soon to be famous” Kingpin 30+ for the old dudes.
And you’re including non-agressive blade things too, is that right? Like a hockey game and maybe a race?
Yes, we are having some non-aggressive stuff going on too. It’s called the Forest City Bladefest, which is presented by Tracy White Blade Museum. It is a part of the BladeHead Series (the new L.A. ALL DAY), keeping our mascot “The Bladehead” alive and well. The event starts up Saturday night at 9pm with a party in downtown Rockford and painting the town after that. On Sunday we meet up at Washington Park Community Center skatepark (which I built when I first moved back using the Skatelite from the former Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club!) for a session and a short sprint race. There is a bike path that goes around the park and we incorporated a stair set, a zig-zag handicap ramp and the skatepark in the race route. At 2pm we head down the street to a roller-hockey rink to have the Inaugural Chicago vs Rockford roller-hockey game! Everyone is welcome to come play though and be put on one of the teams. The winning team will receive for one year (until the next game) the coveted Forest City Bladefest trophy. Think mini Stanley Cup, each member can have a whole month with the FCBF trophy… just kidding, more about fun and some good trash talking till the next game! Hopefully next time we can have a tournament with other teams, Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota?!
Sounds like you got some inspiration from the Windy City Riot?
The WCR Race was the inspiration for the race. Big-ups to Ben Price and the PULL crew for putting it on! This race is way more low key, it’s all about enjoying the art of rolling.
After living in LA for so long and now being back in your hometown area, maybe you can share some perspective on this: where does blading have more potential for growth — LA or IL (and places like it)?
Rollerblading has potential in both spots. Hell, I had an 80% blader park in the birth place of skateboarding. I will give the edge to the Midwest because of its lack of board-sport culture and prejudice that sometimes comes with that culture and its view of rollerblading in L.A. and California. Pretty much everyone in California grew up surfing or skateboarding and has a connection to that and it’s hard sometimes to get kids into rollerblading if their parents don’t support or understand rollerblading, but not impossible. Middle America is un-tapped, including places where kids don’t ever have the chance to get blades on their feet or go to a skatepark without positive bladers or a blade community to cultivate new kids into our sport. WPCC Skatepark is next to a housing project, and those kids see gnarly stuff all the time — and some of their parents don’t give a crap. They all love to blade when given a chance and are tougher than most action sports kids. Kids would be willing to try it but we have fallen so far from the public eye that it’s not even an option for them — unless someone is out there giving them a chance, bringing blades to them!
Tell us an inspiring story about getting a kid into blading.
One of my students, Jeremy (age 9), had attended my Saturday morning skatepark clinics/workshops and was my first rollerblader to sign up this past spring. We got rained out one day during our second session of 4-week classes, but the skies cleared out later that morning and the ground was completely dry. I called all five of the adult blade crew in Rockford and none of them could blade that day. I called Jeremy’s mom and ask if he would want a free lesson and she said yes. We had a good session at the park and we were both stoked! I guess the story is more about someone young inspiring a old guy like me than the other way around. He has continued to progress and will be competing at Bearings & Bruises!
And you’re not just pushing to grow, you’re also preserving the history. What’s the latest on the Blade Museum?
The Tracy White Blade Museum is growing all the time. My friends have been donating items for me to preserve and share with our community. It’s become a huge pastime of mine and mini-sanctuary, as well as a place for my friends to drink some beers while reminiscing about good times. My great friend Kyle Griffith, who used to skate for Team Adventures and compete in N.I.S.S. back in the day, donated his whole collection of wheels, stickers, VHS and mags! It is completely amazing to be entrusted with something like that. Kyle, who is an archeologist by trade, understood that it’s better for me to preserve, share and let others enjoy it than sit in his closet at home. Donations are always welcome and items will never be sold. Hopefully someday I will have a free-standing location, but for now the two rooms in my basement will work. This Sunday I will have a showing as part of the Forest City Bladefest.
Looking around our community, what events do you think show the most potential? And is there anything people aren’t doing that surprises you?
Events in public places — and not just skateparks — where the public can be exposed to it. Sven’s Mind the Gap comes to mind, World Skate Cross (with more refined courses) downhills and races, too. The Kia World Extreme Games in Shanghai, China, for the fact the prize money — $8,000 for first in street and vert — is the same as the other sports and is televised internationaly. The OG Blade Reunion, Colorado Road Trip, Oakland Blade Jam, WCR are all events with lots of potenial. The WCR Friday night was great with the race, p-rails battles, party and Valo V premire! Hope to see some sort ot trade show next year.
Reaching out to more people and not being so underground in order to get more people involved and blading is the key. Making sure the event date is annouced with plenty of time for people to make travels plans is something I would like to see more of too. The Popularity Contest, where they held a roller-hockey game along with their park contest, adds more to our scene and the whole experience. I wish more people tapped into Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, Park Districts and cities, leveraging their assets to get paid to teach and promote rollerblading! Please help out, I am always available to help anyone out who is interested.
How about when you see the vandalism at Woodward West during the AIL event?
Haven’t heard any details, but it’s the same and I hope the guilty parties right their wrongs ASAP!
What’s your blade set up right now?
Rod G 3 RB skates with RB Switch frames, 72mm wheels and Mindgame Higgs Boson antis.
Last time you got to shred?
Had a fun session at the Venice skatepark with Drew Blood last week, and a session at Flodin skatepark on Monday in prep for the Kingpin division.
And what’s up after B&B event this weekend?
I’m running the fall Bearings & Bruises bike, board and blade comp at Churchill skatespot on October 26th. There will be a BIG event next summer in L.A.! Stay tuned.
Well we wish you were just a short drive away up in Los Angeles still, ’cause we’d see you this weekend.
I will definitely miss you and the wife, Fiesta Bravo and the rooftop.
Ha ha, no doubt. Good luck and keep it up!