By Paul Zitzer
Trevor Colden had what could be called a fairy tale year on his skateboard in 2011. All of a sudden he went from your typical struggling up-and-comer to the guy who was everywhere you looked. He reached posterboy status in less than 12 months with a quiver of new sponsors, a million ads, two “Welcome To” parts released to critical acclaim, and magazines calling him to get that interview. Interestingly, in one of those interviews I remember him saying that the absolute highlight of his entire year was winning Tampa Am. And yes, he did that in 2011 too.
That tells you something: Tampa Am is a big deal. But why? Well I have some theories. First, the list of winners: Barley, Caswell, Spanky, Sierra, Nyjah, Cody Mac, Decenzo, Gustavo, Luan, and that’s only some of them. Second, the list of non-winners, if you want to dig deep you’ll find just about EVERY SINGLE PRO took at least one crack at Tampa Am. True a lot of them admit to not really being able to handle it, but that makes it even better. It gets nuts when 200+ skaters gunning for the big-time are all out there at once, trying to stand out while at the same time trying not to smash into each other. But if you survive, and you actually win Tampa, your name will live on that list for the history of skateboarding as we know it. It’s like as close as you can get to being immortal if you stop and think about it. Not to mention you’re probably going to be able to pick which teams you want to skate for.
This year’s hype is going to be even greater. For the first time ever the Tampa Am will be live on StreetLeague.com and the winner gets to skate the 2016 SLS Pro Open. And to make it interesting we have some of the most talented kids signed up yet: Damn Am of the Year Yoshi Tanenbaum, Axel Cruysberghs, Cole Wilson, Oskar Rosenberg, Danny Pham, Tyson Bowerbank, Micky Papa and on and on. I should point out here that you can be as good as Shane O’Neill but to show up and win it takes a unique ability to do the following:
-Deal with the most hectic practice sessions ever
-Adapt to brand new obstacles
-Block out the pressure and the noise and the cameras and every other distraction
-Rip when some announcer tells you it’s time to rip
To top it all off you have only one chance per year, if you’re lucky. And the average shelf life of a sponsored Am before he gets bumped up to the pros or sent back to whence he came is what, 5 years tops?
But while the winners make headlines, it’s all the other stuff around Tampa Am that keeps the rest of us coming back. The moat race, the carnage that is known as the Best Trick Contest, the Old Man Bowl Jam, the art shows (this year with Travis Millard and Michael Sieben who also did the graphics for this year’s poster), the friendships made, the Concrete Jam, the celebrity pros who come to watch, the unveiling of the new course, the product toss that’s like the Grand Finale at Fourth of July only with shirts, shoes, decks and wheels sailing overhead instead of explosions. But thinking about it now, they might as well be explosions. Tampa Am also aligns each year with the anniversary of SPoT itself, which this year is turning 23 years old. So Happy Birthday SPoT, you’re like a fine wine, getting better with age. Here’s to being a big deal.
Watch the Tampa Am webcast live on streetleague.com starting Saturday November 14th at 11:00am ET.