EDMOND — Several teens and preteens patiently sat through a discussion of the benefits and safety of skateboarding, the youth movement in general and possible job opportunities in the board sports industry.
After the brief talk by skateboarder Steve McNutt, the audience was rewarded with live demonstrations Monday night at Edmond Library.
Pete Miller, 19, Matt Ramesh, 20, and Jeremiah Willis, 14, all of Edmond, showed some tricks on their skateboards — from the basic Ollie, which allows the skateboarder to lift the board completely off the ground, to a 360 flip, in which the board does a full rotation.
Before long, the youngsters were showing their own skills.
"I came to skate and learn some stuff," said Moses Ward, 10, of Edmond.
By the end of the demonstration, Ward was catching air with his board from the steps of the library's Shannon Miller pavilion and grinding along a bench set up for the skaters.
He also earned the respect of the other skateboarders.
"Skateboarding provides a social outlet," McNutt said. "It beats locking yourself in a room all day playing video games."
McNutt, who formerly owned Altered Skates in Edmond and now works with Flipd Action Sports of Edmond, has brought his skateboarding message and live demonstrations to eight libraries this summer. At 2 p.m. Sunday, he'll be at the Downtown Library, 300 Park Ave., in Oklahoma City.
McNutt said he got in on the beginning of the board sports industry. He worked at one point as a snowboard designer and event marketer in Huntington Beach, Calif., before returning to his Oklahoma roots.
He talks about the "youth movement," which he said arose in the mid-1980s with the simultaneous growth of the snowboard industry and the Internet and today encompasses skateboarding and surfing as well as fashion, music, art and media.
Youth have tremendous power to affect multiple industries and the job market with all that they are interested in, he said.
He told his audience about various jobs in the industry, from board designers to graphic artists, to retailing and marketing.
"There are a long list of people drawing a paycheck from this industry," he said.
He also stressed the need for education and safety.
Skateboarding is harder than it looks, he said, warning his young listeners that it might take them a decade to be really good.
Willis said he's been working at the sport for about six years, first buying a cheap board from Walmart, then attending camp at Altered Skates.
"I started to get good, then started competing and started teaching local kids," he said.
A fresh wound on Willis' left elbow shows the toll the sport can take on a young body.
"It's harder than all the other sports," Willis said.
Bill and Sony Lovell watched as their son, Nate Zaloudek, tried some aerial tricks.
"He got into it because of his friends," stepfather Bill Lovell said. "I like that it's active and it pushes him to get better. But he goes through shoes like crazy."