Chattanooga pro skateboarder seeks to support struggling youth and represent the city

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In the relatively small but growing skateboarding scene of Chattanooga, Herbert Brown accomplished something he says no one else has done in the city’s history: become a professional skateboarder.

Brown, 29, who lives in Brainerd, started skating at the age of 7. But it wasn’t until he was 11, shortly after the famous Californian team Baker Skateboards came to town, that his passion for skateboarding ignited. It’s a passion that has also led to a desire to show young people how skating can be a cathartic release.

After years of hard work, New York-based Dead on Arrival Skateboards told him late last year that they would make a deal with him and he would go pro. The deal includes creating custom decks for Brown, paying for skate trips, and helping to get featured in magazines.

“I still feel the same way now as when it happened, that is, it just doesn’t feel real,” Brown said at the Comfort Skateshop in Chattanooga, where he works. “It’s like it hasn’t really set in yet.”

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Chattanooga pro skateboarder seeks to support struggling youth and represent the city

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Brown, a graduate of Boyd Buchanan School in Chattanooga, said his inspirations include Tony Hawk and Andrew Reynolds, who founded Baker Skateboards in 2000.

He specifically recalled Hawk in 1999 when he landed the very first 900, a trick that requires a skateboarder to complete two and a half full spins in the air. It was just a year before he landed a board for the first time.

Speaking softly but passionately, Brown said skateboarding was an outlet for him after traumatic events he experienced when he was younger.

“When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I suffered quite traumatic sexual abuse,” he said. “I felt super alienated and didn’t know how to express those feelings. It was a super positive outlet.”

Brown also pointed out how the support of his parents and friends has helped him cope with the abuse he previously struggled to overcome.

His mother, Jacqueline Brown, in a phone interview recalled his reaction when she found out he had made a deal to go pro.

“I panicked,” she said. “I was screaming. I was jumping up and down and hugging him. He’s just the cutest kid. He’ll always be my baby.”

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Whether launching down the stairs or skating the streets of Chattanooga, Herbert Brown said his favorite trick was the wallride, which requires a skateboarder to skate briefly along a vertical surface with the four wheels planted before continuing to skate.

His tricks, featured in a variety of skate videos, are documented by fellow skateboarders and filmers such as Alex Rose and Josh Shupe, both of Chattanooga.

But after all these years, he’s never broken a bone – a feat in itself for a seasoned skateboarder.

“I didn’t think it was possible either,” he said.

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Brown won the 2018 Battle at the Bend competition, which takes place annually at Chattown Skatepark. But winning competitions is not what prompts him to return to the sport. He focuses more on enjoying his passion, raising awareness of abuse and creating video content.

Currently he is working on a new skate video due out in mid-2022.

Despite his accomplishments, Herbert Brown has also made it clear that he doesn’t just skate for himself.

He has been in talks with Comfort Skateshop and Dead on Arrival about setting up a youth program for those interested in skateboarding, although it is not yet clear how such a program will work, a- he declared.

Ideally, he said, he would like to raise funds to educate those who have been sexually abused and potentially create a program to help young people use skating to cope with trauma.

Either way, he said, skateboarding is a rewarding and cathartic sport that could provide young people with the same relief he has experienced.

“My advice would be to try and find fun in the process,” he said, noting that getting comfortable on a skateboard and learning tricks takes years. “Those boring moments where it doesn’t seem glamorous, like you try 1,000 times for a split second to pull off a trick, I feel like it’s supercritical.”

While the local skate scene is growing, he said, what the city needs is a full-size concrete skatepark to help strengthen the skate community – something that is underway. .

A group of local skaters and the city are working on the details of the Chattanooga Skatepark project. The parties are now determining where to build the park and create an official design.

Those who wish to watch more Herbert Brown skate videos can do so on YouTube by searching for Herbert Brown.

Contact Logan Hullinger at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.



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