When Shawn Rennie was growing up in Santa Clarita, there was no real skateboarding venue.
“I remember being 12 or 13 years old … and sitting on the initial City Council meeting to sign the petition to get the very first skate park built,” Rennie said.
Since then, the Santa Clarita Valley has seen not one, but two skate parks built, while Rennie has seen a tremendous evolution in the sport, with it going from a “rebellious” hobby to an art form, with its athleticism being highlighted as it makes its debut as an Olympic sport in Tokyo.
However, it was Rennie’s goal to simply give kids in the SCV what he didn’t have growing up — a safe, productive avenue to learn skateboarding — that drove him to create Push Skate School with his partner Danny Sanchez.
“The mission of Push Skate School has always been just driven from wanting the thing that I wanted as a kid that would allow me to continue in the sport,” Rennie added. “We wanted to create an area that allowed kids to meet other skateboarders of the same age and (skill level) … and that they have a safe place to do this.”
Now able to make a career out of his passion, Rennie has been able to pass that love for skateboarding on to his students, offering both lessons for groups and individuals, as well as birthday party events, where they create a pop-up skate park.
“The goal is to have kids outside having a good time, and it seems like if I just set the tools down on the floor, the kids manifest all the fun — they’re the ones that make it what it is, I just get to be the catalyst,” Rennie said, adding that it has been rewarding to watch kids gain confidence in themselves.
Push Skate School has also been working with the city of Santa Clarita to piggyback on the program and offer lessons at the Santa Clarita Skate Park during weekend junior rider hours, where kids 12 and under can have a safe place to go skate with kids their own age, according to Joe Harris, recreation and community services supervisor with the city.
“It’s really great,” Harris said. “During that program, (Rennie) offers classes, and parents can come in, set up chairs and watch. It’s an important program and is just an opportunity for kids to ride in a safe environment and learn the right way. Shawn does a great job with the kids.”
For Rennie, it’s been most rewarding to be able to start this business right where he grew up, he said.
“I’m just proud and so excited that I got to be part of it within Santa Clarita … and feel like I’m etching my history in the city that I was raised in,” he said.
After the pandemic highlighted the importance of outdoor sports activities, Rennie said he’s excited to show others how important skateboarding is as a tool to get kids back outside and return to that sense of community, recalling an instance just a few weeks ago where a student got the wind knocked out of her, and he was in awe as he watched her fellow students gather around, encouraging her to get back up.
“It has been a great outlet for these kids,” Rennie added. “It’s such a driving force behind this passion of ours that we know that from what we’ve done since the beginning of January to today has really helped not only families but also some kids who have some social anxiety issues, and I think that it’s fair for us to acknowledge that those are real things in this world and that they may have been heightened due to the pandemic, so now we can try to redirect that curve by being a source of good times for them.”
Next month, Push Skate School is teaming up with Fitstyle LA for the “Ultimate Game of S.K.A.T.E.,” a rail jam, along with open skate times for kids ages 5-16, focusing on both skating and fitness.
“The main goal is going to be a combination of exercise and fitness and skateboarding and trying to really link those two worlds together with kids and getting them excited about going to a gym,” Rennie said.
Ultimate Game of S.K.A.T.E. is scheduled 2-7 p.m. on Aug. 7 at Fitstyle LA, located at 26380 Ferry Court. For more information, visit pushactionsport.com or call 661-299-7807.