ONE Staff / November 10th, 2008 / Spotlight
PRINT: 15 MINUTES with Tracy White

During the ’94 migration to Los Angeles to compete in the National Inline Skate Series, or NISS, Tracy White was one Midwesterner who never left. At 18, he jetted from his hometown of Rockford, Ill., and never looked back. Coming from an ice hockey background you might get confused and think he’s Canadian. Or maybe you saw an older photo of him with his dreadlocks and all his ire and you thought to yourself, “No way, mon.… He’s totally Jamaican.” But no, he’s Midwest all the way (and don’t you hate on his Bears, or he’ll have words with you)! — Mike Opalek

Tracy is one of the few who have taken on the role of teacher in this industry. He procured (look it up… stay in school) a small skate park in Santa Monica, Calif., with dilapidated donated ramps and made it an inspiring place for the next generation to learn how to roll — and get a big brother as a bonus.

With 20 years of skating under his belt, Tracy has lived the rollerblading life. He traveled the world on his blades and was the singer in a band called The Fetish (with A.J. Jackson and B “Love” Hardin). He currently organizes L.A. All Day and resides a half-block from the Pacific Ocean in Venice Beach, where his apartment’s roof has a 360-degree view that allows you to see an array of things that include but are not limited to a rock star’s house, a liquor store, occasional motorcycle accidents, hobos, hippies, homies, the neighbors’ roof (which seems a bit closer and inviting to jump onto, especially when you’ve been drinking), vacationers, locals, the sand and, of course, the Pacific Ocean.

Read on to learn more about this gifted educator and he will tell you what happened to the dreads and why he hates Dos Equis beer so much!

What got you into rollerblading back in Rockford?

I grew up playing ice hockey. For my 12th birthday my parents were gonna get me a present and I chose skates to just practice and train, just roll around the streets playing hockey back in Rockford.

What was the skate scene like in Rockford back then?

The skate scene in Rockford then was me and a couple of people from the hockey club that had skates. People would actually stop you and ask, “What are those things on your feet?” For my 13th birthday we rented the skate park, which I had been to a couple of times before. Rotation Station, which was a big skateboard park back in the day; pretty much all my friends went there. We brought a couple of my friends from the hockey team and the lady was just blown away, she’d seen people on roller skates but never on rollerblades. From there we pretty much started to session the park all the time.

What made you guys move out to Los Angeles?

The guys from NISS, Mark Billik and Rick Stark, invited me to try out for NISS in 1994.

How’d they hear about you?

You know, I don’t know exactly how they heard about me. I was trying to get on Team Rollerblade and had been to Camp Rollerblade, and actually did one show for Team Rollerblade. I was competing in any Midwest contest I could — SCRAP was a big one. So I guess they heard about me just through the guys who knew I was trying to get my tape in so I could get on Team Rollerblade back in the day.

When you moved out to Los Angeles, what was that like as a personal experience coming from the Midwest?

It was great! Funny story… I just got back from a senior trip and my mom said, “Good news. (Tracy laughs) This guy from L.A. called you, Mark Billik. Bad news is you can’t live here anymore.” She’d had enough of me for the time being. So I moved out with my buddy Ralph Koch and Dion Roldan. It was big, you know… I’d always been skating so much but I never really knew that was brewing or anything like that was gonna happen, so when it happened it really took me by surprise.

What was it like for you when you got out here as far as making money and surviving?

You know, it’s funny ’cause I always said that was what I wanted to do — I wanted to make money being a pro rollerblader. My parents were just like, “ Oh, OK…” and in the Midwest they’d seen me make a little money doing shows and stuff. But finally being able to pay your rent in L.A. by making money rollerblading was a really gratifying experience.

Who was your first major sponsor?

My first major sponsor was definitely Bauer, then there was Kryptonics and Hardline.

How did 4Dub start?

4Dub started basically when I started skating for Bauer, and I wanted to put something on the market and decided to put some grind plates out there. Probably didn’t do enough testing, and it started off a little rushed, but it was started by just traveling around and seeing everyone else getting into different projects and definitely wanting to be a part of it.

How long did that last?

4Dub was probably around for three years… the illustrious career of 4Dub! I always joke at my contests, “Damn those frame makers — they put me right out of business.” (Laughs) As technology got better, grind plates became a thing of the past.

What are you doing these days?

These days I’m the skate park director for the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club.

How’d you get involved in that?

The park was run by our friend Greg Steptoe (writer’s note: that’s G-Step kid!), and we’d always skated there back in the day. It was a complete surprise when one day he told me he was leaving and I should put in my application. At the time we weren’t making money doing shows, and it was something I needed. I ended up getting the job, and since then I’ve been there for seven years.

How has it changed from when you started until now?

Oh, man! At first, I was a bit bummed about how little money I was making (coming from being a pro, traveling, etc.) Over time, once I saw the difference I could make in kids’ lives, the pay didn’t matter much anymore and I stepped it up. When they started trusting me and letting me do what I envisioned — you’ve seen the park grow, with L.A. All Day contests and that kind of stuff — it’s a whole new park and experience for the kids. We have redesigned the park with sick ramps, practice rails, free rental skates, classes and contests.

What is L.A. All Day?

L.A. All Day is a rollerblading contest series run by Carlos Kessell and myself. We’re on our third year, and this year we have two real-street contests and four park contests (at the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club). Points are awarded in each division: beginner, intermediate, advanced and elite. We recognize the top three skaters in each division and the overall champion with medals and dope prize packages. We’ve created this new contest series in order give these kids a place to compete at all levels and work their way up, hopefully, to become pro. You can check out more at

What do you see the park doing in the next few years?

We definitely plan on just keeping up the events. The more L.A. All Day contests we can do and the more quality ramps we can get in there, the better. I’d like to see more amateurs out there, that’s my main focus — getting kids on skates. I just want to give kids that experience that I had, but in a different way, with good skates and good ramps… the whole nine yards, you know!

How do you get kids on skates who have never skated before? What do you do, what do you tell them?

At our park you got all ages ripping… kids see the park and they want to get on skates. I’ll do different classes and from there, basically, once they see it the kids are hooked, you don’t have to say too much.

What happens when a kid comes into your park and he really wants to try it but he doesn’t have skates?

First of all, we have free rental skates available. With a bunch of help from different skaters that I’ve known (who have gotten older and now have jobs), my main thing now is if you got skates and you’re not using them, donate them — I’ll put them on kids’ feet. It’s not just like, “Oh, I want skates” — ’cause every kid wants a free pair of skates. We’ll put skates on kids to use at the park, but at the same time when kids cannot get them on their own and really show the effort, well, we’ve given away so many skates it is ridiculous! If more bladers did that.… Financially, it’s hard to get on rollerblades; if you put them on a kid’s feet you will see how much fun they’re having. I just think more people need to get in on that. You put skates on the kids’ feet and they’re gonna make it happen…

Read more of Mike Opalek’s interview with Tracy in ONE magazine #12, one sale now!

Discussion / PRINT: 15 MINUTES with Tracy White

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Kevin McIntosh - November 11th, 2008

    Great article… seems like you found a really fulfilling career Tracy… nice work!

    Man… Scrap, Rockford (The Pit)… brings back a lot of great memories!

  • dan leifeld - November 11th, 2008

    This article pushed me to re-subscribe! Props ONE and Tracy!

  • ali - November 12th, 2008

    Great interview, grass roots rollerblading at its best!

    I’d like to read more stuff like that!

  • sir lube a lot - November 12th, 2008

    This article really pushed the whole old school aspect of blading. There needs to be more skaters on Tracys level. In my opinion, Tracy White deserves videos parts and more recognition in general, just let him shine. Cant find a reason why Tracy White doesnt get more media time. From one old school head whos roots trace back before any juiced sucka fools brought heat, lets meet and greet the legend Mr. White.

  • Luda. - December 1st, 2008

    tracy rules. nothing more to it. done so much for everyone its awesome.

    good article!

  • b love - December 10th, 2008

    Yeah man! T-Whisky is THE man. Love him!

  • rolrol - December 10th, 2008

    funny that you got the cover of the german “skate” mag

  • Paul Beeman - March 26th, 2009

    Tracy White is at the core of rollerblading and will be forever. Most of us from back home faded out after injuries or being washed up but this cat has kept at it tenaciously year after year. He does more for the sport than anyone I have ever known out of pure love, passion, and dedication. God knows he did everything in his power to help me succeed which I will never forget. I am not worried about whether he will get the media attention he deserves cause I know he will in due time. We were fortunate enough to be groomed by the original OG of skating who at the time was the only one doing things right. Hardline was the dopest company ever cause AJ wasnt concerned with labeling the sport as “aggressive” or whatever people need to label it. It was about having style and being proud and creative and just skating hard with heart. Big ups to Tracy getting his 15 minutes in the mag. The man is a legacy and someone we can be proud to look up to. I would call him a friend but he’s my brotha from anotha motha.

  • ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2024 Molotov Media, LLC,
    Subscribe | Retail Locations | Advertising | Distribution | Contact Us