Bellflower, California—The 30-acre Hollywood Sports Park hosted this year’s inaugural Inner City Games beginning Friday, August 8, opening to a park full of enthusiastic participants and observers—despite the weather reaching a scorching 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
One look at the happy kids bussed in from L.A.’s inner-city area as they filed into the park to sign up for demonstrations, clinics, and contests was enough to restore faith in the power of skate events.
The Inner City Games were created by Arnold Schwarzenegger, with his partner Danny Hernandez, as part of his kid-centric after-school activity program. “Arnold frenzy was in full swing at the Inner City Games’ opening ceremony on Friday, August 8, due in part to his official announcement of candidacy for governor of California. Bob Burnquist also showed up for the kiddos and will likely be joining forces with the ICG in the future via his own philanthropic organization, Bob Burnquist’s Kids.
Hollywood Sports Park was created by paintball pioneers Giovanni D’Egidio and Dennis Bukowski. The sports park features a huge outdoor skatepark (with a second-story observation area and a skate shop) and an elaborate paintball area (complete with movie-set props from Waterworld and Starship Troopers), as well as outdoor volleyball, rock climbing, soccer, BMX, and a huge video arcade.
On Saturday, kids signed up at the SPAUSA/Red Bull tent for the ramp clinic, flip-trick contest, and a high-jump contest. While some kids looked really young, SPAUSA Founder Heidi Lemmon and her associate John Escobar related stories of how each had grown (in skills and confidence) as part of the SPAUSA team. Zak Grove led the ramp clinic, and Hollywood Sports Skate Director Al Garcia ran the flip-trick contest. Steve Berra and Zak lent a hand for the street contest held in the slightly cooler evening on Saturday, and SPAUSA skater Lamanzo Coleman won both Saturday and Sunday’s street events. Ronnie Bertino and the ATM crew hosted a lively game of SKATE for appreciative fans.
The high-jump contest had some world-record-worthy results: in the fifteen-and-under category, Johnathon Boyden reached four feet, seven inches. In the over-fifteen category, Jose Morales hit four feet, ten inches—a U.S. record. Unfortunately, Ben Ede’s five-foot high jump was unofficial, but he still got sponsored by Casper skateboards on the spot. Ben belongs to a team called Taxi—a bunch of twelve to eighteen year olds who couldn’t get sponsored and so started their own team. The joke is they “couldn’t even afford a taxi.
The Inner City Games provided a cure for skate-event burnout as well as a few fun days for some kids deserving of a little TLC, giving us all a peek at a great new venue in the process. Hollywood Sports Park is available for private parties or industry events, and the national Inner City Games event calendar can be seen at hollywoodsports.com.