When it comes to skateboarding, Drake Riddiough does it all. He soars over the tops of vert ramps. He carves and grinds in the bowl. And he isn’t afraid to go big on the street, either. He’s won competitions and is sponsored by no less than three companies — DC Shoes, Half Pint Skateboards and Earth and Ocean Board Shop.
Not bad for a 12-year-old.
Drake is in the sixth grade at Marina Village Middle School. But you wouldn’t guess it to look at him — most of his classmates tower over his slight frame. Put him on a skateboard, however, and he’ll prove he’s larger than life.
Drake has been traveling all over the country as a competitive skateboarder for years. He earned a first place finish in the 12-and-under division at the Sessions Tim Brauch Memorial competition in Scott’s Valley on Oct. 2.
“It was the first competition I won,” Drake said. “It was very competitive and I was really excited. I even got interviewed on Fuel TV.”
Drake got hooked on skateboarding as a wide-eyed 5-year-old watching the older hot shots on the ramps at Folsom’s Cummings Family Park.
“I saw what they were doing and paid attention to the way they moved and though, ‘I could do that,’” Drake said.
“I went out and bought him a cheap deck,” Drake’s dad, Ken Riddiough, added. “He took right to it.”
Drake started making regular trips to area parks like Cummings and Granite Regional with his dad and younger brother, Drew. While neither Dad nor little brother skate, they were perfectly content watching Drake in action, especially around the older skaters.
Before long, Drake was drawing small crowds at the local skate spots, all eager to see a kid barely taller than the deck he rode executing flawless arial tricks and grinds on the half pipe. At age 8, he attracted the attention of Half Pint founder Jason Crum during a skateboard exhibition. Crum had Drake try out one of his smaller-sized decks and Drake picked up his first sponsor.
The trips have since become a ritual for the three young men, growing from twice-weekly jaunts across town to out of state trips to skate competitions in Oregon, Minnesota and New York. Occasionally, they’ll drive to the Bay Area where Drake gets the chance to “skate with the grown-ups,” as his dad puts it, at a Richmond skate park.
“Drew and I sit up and watch Drake in action,” Ken Riddiough said. “The older guys treat him like he’s one of them … he’s an older soul, kind of like a little man.”
While Drake’s status as a semi-pro skateboarder warrants him plenty of cool points with his classmates and other friends, according to his dad, he hasn’t turned many of them on to the sport.
“He’s a very well-adjusted kid,” he said. “He gets great grades, but he doesn’t have a lot of friends who skate. Football, baseball and basketball are king around here. He’s played some other sports, too. In fact, he really is great at everything he does.”
“Except basketball,” Drake interjected. I suck at that!”
While Drake has his sites set on pushing the limits of his board skills while making the move from kid-level comps to going up against teens and eventually adults, he’s not without long-term career goals: He plans to carve out a niche for himself in the skateboard industry.
In fact, he’s already gotten started, having pitched ideas to one of his sponsors, DC Shoes, for some new T-shirt designs.
“I noticed a lot of their designs are kind of boring, really just their logo,” Drake said. “Me and my buddy Jacob and my other friend, Cameron Walters — he’s a really good artists — came up with a few ideas that look like comic strips.”
Drake described two humorous designs. One would be a series of drawing of a guy wearing some “really stupid looking hats,” until he puts on a DC cap and gets a positive reaction from friends. The other would show two friends at a shooting range. One shoots a “DC” logo into his target, earning the compliment “nice shot,” from his buddy.
For now, Drake is happy hitting the park twice a week to perfect is favorite tricks — the frontside 360 and street tricks like kick and heel flips — and taking on the occasional competition. His next goal is to make it to the final round of the national “King of the Groms” competition series, the largest youth skateboard competition in the U.S., which begins next spring.