Skateboarders look to shred it today in Greenport

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Skate shop owner Rich Morabito (right,)with employee Tyler McDonald.

Why skate?

This question might stump some who see skateboarders as little more than street toughs, rocking sideways caps under hoodies with neon graffiti.

But for many local skaters, the answer is simple.

“I express how I feel through skateboarding,” said 19-year-old Justin “Beau” Pollock of Greenport. “I don’t have that large of a vocabulary, but I can throw down with my skateboarding, so that’s how I talk to others.”

Those who skate like Beau will have their chance to “talk” to the North Fork at large between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday (though the event was originally scheduled for Saturday) during the fourth annual Greenport Skate Park Festival, which will include music, individual and group runs and chances to win prizes. All proceeds from the competition and festival will go toward the Greenport Skate Park Renovation Project, according to the event’s website.

This is the first year the festival will take place with a skate shop in town — a shop that is donating prizes to the competition, like a custom board, clothes and a gift certificate.

The shop, which opened on Main Street during Memorial Day weekend is called Slainte, pronounced “slawn-cha,” a Gaelic expression that means, “health, wealth and happiness for those I love.”

Owner Rich Morabito said he tries to live his life by that phrase.

A lifetime skater who put his board on the shelf when he snapped his leg in three places at age 21, Mr. Morabito currently sponsors four local skaters and said he not only provides the boys with skate equipment, but is a mentor to them as well.

“I’ve always looked out for my boys,” he said of Greenport skaters like Beau. “I want them to know there’s other things to do than getting in trouble.”

Despite his retirement, Mr. Morabito said he skates now and then to teach the boys an “old school” trick or two, like Impossibles or Ed Templetons, tricks he said have been coming back into fashion.

As much as he enjoys giving lessons on the board, he derives even more pleasure from the lessons he gives on life.

“All I needed was a big brother growing up,” he said. “If I turned my back on someone who needed help then, what would that make me?”

The shop owner sometimes houses 16-year-old skater and new employee Tyler McDonald and may continue to do so through the upcoming school year. Tyler said he left South Carolina, where his mother had moved him to be closer to his father, to return to Greenport after he fell into trouble with the law.

“Tyler is like a littler brother to me,” Mr. Morabito said. “We’re both goofy-footed [left footed] when it comes to skating. We skate with heart, with spirit; we’re not really technical.”

Though Greenport High School is unique in that it has a skate park right next door, Tyler said the park is in dire need of repair. “We need a lot of help and donations to get it started again,” he said. “Most of the ramps are falling apart and the boxes are all broken up. We just try to keep it up as much as we can.”

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