Thursday, December 16, 2010


Gould Academy in Bethel Maine now offers "Skate School"

Complete story from Transworld Business

Maine high school English teacher Dave Bean, 52, has been skating since he was eight. Bean has taught the past thirteen years at Gould Academy—a private boarding school in the southwestern part of the state near Sunday River Ski Resort—and also serves as the school’s skateboard program director, overseeing a varsity skate squad. Playing a large role in the region’s skate community, Bean runs free competitions for middle and high school students across the state called the Maine SK8 Series, as well as amateur contests for riders under 20-years old, and has also worked to construct a municipal skate park in South Paris, Maine, a community park in Bethel, Maine, and a 9,000-square-foot indoor park at Gould Academy. Recently, Bean teamed up with the school’s staff to launch a three week summer program for eighth and ninth graders called Skate School, which will get underway May 2011 and feature a week-long trip to Camp Woodward East in Pennsylvania.

“For about ten years now I’ve been intrigued with the relationship between the way we understand how to learn on a skateboard, (snowboard, skis or surfboard,) and in a classroom,” says Bean. “Learning, and understanding the way we learn, has strong carry over between athletics and academic work. The question became how to marry the passion in one cohesive program.”

Bean and his staff will start the program out slow, offering six openings to students at Gould, with hopes to increase the capacity in years to come, he says. Drawing on partnerships with Camp Woodward, Skate Park of Tampa, and Zoo York, Bean has also been able to gain backing from the skate industry for future projects.

“Skateboard programs in schools are a natural progression for us as a growing industry, and we should embrace the ones that do it right and authentically,” says Zoo York Brand Manager Seamus Deegan. “Dave’s program is one of those. He works with the New England community to highlight skateboarding positively. This helps not only retain kids skateboarding as they become adults but also makes communities more understanding and open to building parks. In the Northeast, especially, this is key as unlike Southern California, skateboarding is not a widely accepted part of the lifestyle.”

Bean took a minute to answer a few questions about the new program and what he hopes to accomplish with it in the near future.

How did the idea for Skate School originate?

Over the past couple years the admissions director at Gould Academy, Todd Ormiston, and I have been talking about ways to capitalize on the success of our 13-year-old skateboard program. See the blog at: skateschool.gouldacademy.org for more background. We came up with a three-week program that would give skaters a sense of our school. At Gould we look for ways to emphasize some of the things we do really well and this is one of those things. It’s a niche recruiting tool and a means to ramp up our skateboard program. It’s a similar model as our Winter Term Program, a four month experience for competitive snowboarders, alpine skiers, and freestyle/freeride skiers.

How did the partnerships with Camp Woodward, Zoo York, and Skate Park of Tampa come about?

On and off I’ve talked with Gary Ream about his plans for Woodward U. That program is amazing. I have a ton of respect for all the programs and facilities that Camp Woodward develops around the world. Gary sponsors a regional amateur skateboard series I run called Schooled Series. And he’s a great resource.

Business partnerships allow us to work with like-minded companies with a different type of exchange. Skate School and the rest of our program don’t require lots of product. Yeah, SPoT threw down for t-shirts and trucker hats which are cool, but when I reach out to Ryan Clements I’m looking for advice and insight. Seamus Deegan, at Zoo York is just totally generous about supporting what we do. Zoo York decks are actually made in Western Maine about a half hour from us. Seamus takes care of us with decks, for sure. Rye Airfield is our home away from home, the largest indoor skatepark in the Northeast, and home of a brand new vert ramp. Beau Lambert manages RAF and we work together pretty regularly. Jim Gray, Inkgenda, is an old friend so it only made sense to have him do the stickers. I try to do what I can to add value to these brands by doing good work and I learn as much as I can from everyone.

How do you see this program benefiting youth at Gould and what potential impact do you see it having on the skate community and industry in your region?

Skate School will raise the stakes for skateboarding at Gould. It will enrich our community. We are a traditional private boarding school with great board sports both in the skatepark and on the mountain at Sunday River Ski Resort, which is just down the road. The fact that skateboarding is a varsity sport and hopefully has the ability to draw in new skateboarders who might also be passionate snowboarders or freestyle/freeride skiers or alpine racers is an exciting prospect.

We love skateboarding and we want skateboarding to stay what it is—free and free form. We ride with the students in our program as team managers. We session together. There’s more give and take than in other sports. We do dynamic stretching and on rainy days we’ll use our indoor skatepark and if skaters are USSA members some can train on our trampoline, complete with foam pit. It is a very individualized program. On one end of things are folks who are just learning how to kickflip and on the other end are riders doing World Cup events. You gotta love it.

How have you seen the industry change and evolve and where do you think its headed?

Clearly I’ve seen what everyone has seen in that skateboarding went from this core pursuit to a mainstream thing. Everyone has the shoes, the shirt, the hoodie. From an industry standpoint that’s a good thing. Burnside and FDR will always be there as counter balance.

I don’t want skateboarding to be any more mainstream than it is. When students ask me if they should be on skate team I say, “If you can see yourself doing anything else, do it. The only reason to skate is if you absolutely have to do it.” Where as the lacrosse coach goes at it just the opposite way because he’s dealing with a team sport. I think skateboarding takes a lot of imagination and energy. That has to come from inside you.

Where do you see the future of this program at Gould headed? Do you foresee other schools in the region adopting this model?

I’m certain other schools will do similar programs. I hope we can grow the program to include more focused students and passionate skaters. Plus, with Goulds competitive on-snow programs in alpine racing, snowboarding, and freestyle/freeride skiing, the skateboarding program makes sense.

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