Brandon Thomas and Danny Atkins interview
While spending some time skating up in Powell the other day, Johnathan Hoch and I ran into a couple of guys who share an interesting story. Brandon Thomas and Danny Atkins are both exceptional skaters and best friends. Despite having a disability where he is unable to use his legs, Brandon skates with Danny every day, and the two of them push and encourage each other. We sat down with the two of them to catch a little of their story.
Skate Columbus: So, talk a little bit about how long you’ve been skating and how you guys met.
Danny Atkins: We skate every day, at least.
Brandon Thomas: We probably put an hour in a day…
Danny: At least…we met at Worthington, I saw him (Brandon) and I was like that’s off the hook, you’re a total inspiration…we’ve been best friends since then.
SC: So you guys met skating?
Danny: Yeah, I just showed up at the Worthington skatepark and this kid was skating around on his knees…we’ve both been homeless together, we take care of each other…
Brandon: And whenever I have money and he doesn’t, I help him out, whenever he has money, he helps me out. We’ve actually been through a lot, like he said, we’ve actually really been homeless together and just done our thing and lived life, but we’ve always stuck with our skateboards, and we’ve always stuck as a team.
Danny: That’s what our end goal is, we want to get a team here in Columbus.
SC: Do you get to help a lot of the younger kids?
Danny: Yeah, that’s what I want to do, just to be able to go out and show them to stick with it, you can to it, anybody can.
Brandon: And eventually I want to get out there and show the other disabled people, look, don’t be stuck in your house all day…it took me till I was about 8 to start getting the handstands down. I had a sofa chair and I would just stand on my head on it and lay back. Then I wanted to do it on a skateboard. So I eventually got on it, started doin’ it, and fell for about 5 months. Then I got back on it one day and got it down and from there on I just started doing all the handstands and…
Danny: That’s kind of where I met him, me and him push each other so hard, his finger flips, his lip tricks and everything…it’s just on it every day trying to encourage each other…I’ve been skating for 14, almost 15 years, and I just learned to do flip tricks two summers ago…
Brandon: Last year I started getting my finger flips down, and this year we were at Westerville and I just started coming out of this little corner part and trying to flip it. I just started getting them real good, and I tried flat ground and I didn’t think I’d ever get them but I finally got the energy and mindset to do them.
SC: Do you see a lot of similar interest in skating from other people?
Danny: Yeah, there aren’t too many people around Columbus that are like me…I’m kind of out there a little bit, but everyone has their own style. That’s why it’s good to encourage each other, it doesn’t matter who you are.
SC: So, switching gears a little bit, what do you think about the crowded atmosphere at the skateparks?
Danny: It’s real nice when we catch a park empty. We’ll go up to Westerville and it’ll be empty and we’ll have 2 or 3 hours to ourselves.
Brandon: Yeah, like one night we came here (Powell) and there were 2 people here and it was getting dark and it was really fun because you don’t worry about everybody if you mess up. You just cruise and you’re not worried about anybody getting in your way. And you just do things you never thought you could do. I think if you’re starting to skate, try to go late at night, where it’s light enough to see, but you get the park to yourself.
Danny: And your not worried about embarrassment.
Brandon: And a lot of new skaters are afraid of falling. Once they fall, they wont’ get back on their board. I’ve taken some pretty nasty falls, I’ve had my arm from my shoulder to my elbow messed up cause I went to grind the bowl in Worthington and spun out and ripped the skin off my shoulder.
SC: Do you guys have any tips for young kids coming out to skate the parks?
Danny: Just wait your turn and…
Brandon: They get impatient because the younger you are, the more energy you have, and you just want to get out there and have fun like everybody else. Another thing is just keep your eyes open. If you’re not too experienced at a park and you’re younger, just find a spot to do some tricks and learn your balance. The smaller parks are better for the younger kids too, like Worthington.
Danny: Worthington’s a great beginner park to teach you transitions and work up speed.
Brandon: It’s really relaxing to go down there and practice your moves and move on to another park.
SC: Thanks for the interview guys.