#THANKAMENTOR is Torace's November campaign to appreciate mentors both personally and professionally.
My skate mentor, Brian Freeman (aka Bfree, @bfreebfree), has skated 1,929 consecutive days, and I’m pretty sure today will be day number 1,930. We first met in early 2019. I had only about two months of roller skating under my belt and despite being in my forties and not at all sporty, I really really wanted to learn how to park skate. At that point, I could skate forwards and a little bit backwards but Brian’s message was very simple: “Of course, you can do it!”
I didn’t realize it that first day at Town Park, but Brian would not only teach me the concrete skills to park skate but would become a friend and mentor. Brian has taught me many things—to shift my body weight to stall on a coping, when to lift my toes to do rolling drop in on a mini ramp, and how to 180 over an object by lifting my knees and spotting my landings. But more importantly, he has taught me how to teach myself new skills, to experiment, and to break down tricks into smaller pieces.
The thing that sticks with me the most though, is Brian once told me, “Aleka, remember the goal is to skate again tomorrow.” This means a lot of different things to me depending on the circumstances. Sometimes it means I should be careful and not take unnecessary risks like attempting a trick before I have really learned the component parts. But, at the same time, it means that I need to fully commit to a trick to do it safely and that I can’t change my mind mid-leap if I want to skate again tomorrow. Other times it means I need to stop skating if I’m too tired even though I’m still having fun. Occasionally it means, I can just put on my skates for a hot second if I’m not feeling great and skate again tomorrow. Most critically though, to me it means that the goal isn’t the streak itself it is having fun, enjoying the process today, and looking forward to what tomorrow will bring. Keeping up the streak is a means to an end, and if or when I forgot to skate or life gets in the way, I can skate again tomorrow. Of course, I may not always be able to skate, but having found so much joy in this unexpected hobby, the goal can still be to “skate” again tomorrow—to be curious, open, and brave.
These same lessons apply to my professional work as well. I try to balance risks but fully commit when ready, avoid burnout, keep it fun and do what I need to do today. And then do it again tomorrow!
I skated this morning, which means I have gotten up on my wheels every day for 1380 consecutive days. Some days I leave the house before dawn to hit the skatepark in my quads, other days I may only get up on my free skates for a few circles around my dining room table. But every day, wheels or no wheels, I will always be grateful for Brian and the other mentors in my life who have helped and supported me. We do this together, one-day-at-a-time.