Bob Umbel

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Bob Umbel

 Born: Washington D.C. 1965

 Home town: Potomac, MD

 Lives: Melbourne Beach, FL

 

 

Sponsors: Demon Seed Skateboards, Bones Wheels, Gullwing Trucks, Pro-Designed pads, S-One helmets

 

I jumped on my first skateboard at age 8, a Nash sidewalk surfboard “Red Shark” with metal wheels. It was not my skateboard but one of the older kids on my street. All the kids on the block would take turns riding it down the hill in front of my home. On my 10th birthday my parents took me to the only surf/skate shop around in the 70’s, The Sunshine House where I was allowed to pick whatever skateboard I wanted. I already had a board in mind from Skate Boarder Magazine, a Bahne skateboard deck with Bennett trucks and Cadillac wheels. That was the summer of 1975 and it was easy to find hilly streets with brand new asphalt to skate down in Potomac, Maryland. This was a year or so before the first skate park was built in the area “Free Style skateboard park” in Gaithersburg. Skateboarding was at an all-time high with skate parks opening all over the place in Maryland and Virginia. Unfortunately they didn’t last long, skate parks were disappearing and skateboarding had lost its popularity. In terms of a skateboarder….I felt abandoned and homeless so to speak.

In rolled the 1980’s and in the Washington area the theme was Punk Rock and of course skateboarding was a crime….we were anti-establishment and non-conformist. The only way to keep my fire burning was to build skate ramps with other dedicated skaters only to watch them get torn down. We drained pools and bombed parking garages only to get chased away by the law. As the 80’s progressed so did skateboarding, it was during this time that skateboarding was on a comeback and vert skateboarding was front and center. I wanted to be around other skaters that shared the same passion…be it a session or jam, so I traveled and made friends along the way…! 

I started entering NSA and other amateur contests as a vert skater, I attained professional status with Lake Skateboards in the late 80’s; but, by 1992 vert skateboarding in particular began to lose popularity and my sponsors went in a different direction with a focus on street skating. Vert skateboarding for the most part was dead, I was 26 and feeling the same way I did when I was a kid at the end of the 1970’s….an outcast. Never the less my passion was still strong but the reality of adulthood was in full effect. I was married, bought a house and starting a family. Life as a father was the next chapter in my life and that is where I find myself today 20 years later. As a family man I have come to find great balance in my life between, Family – Work – Skateboarding. It is hard to capture within the sentences above the effect skateboarding has had on my life so I will try and finish painting that picture for you….Bottom line, at the end of the day I wouldn’t change a thing!! MI August 2013Bob August 2013MI 2013