From the Streets of the 303
May 17, 2012 by Mateo Rocha
Raised in the heart of Denver and aiming to get his name out there is what gets A-Rod to push wood day in and day out.
Skateboarding is the first thing that Luis Arody Majalca (AKA A-Rod) can remember of his early childhood. If that was his first memory as a kid, it’s no wonder he’s got the mindset of a bull for skateboarding. He first stepped on the four-wheeled toy at age six, but as the years would pass this toy would grow to become more than just a past time for the young adrenaline junkie.
Being raised as a first generation American, A-Rod has lived through both the Mexican Heritage juxtaposed with the American Culture. His parents, Monica Treviso and Ernesto Majalca, are natives of two separate towns in Chihuahua, Mexico; this is where A-Rod’s roots reside.
Luis Majalca was not only born on January 27th, 1997 in the Children’s Hopsital on Colfax Avenue, he was raised on the avenue as well. “Colfax is the street that runs through the heart of Denver, and I’ve grown up around that. I’m a straight up Denver kid,” said A-Rod.
“My dad was working at Chubby’s Mexican Restaurant around the time I was a little kid, so I got all the benefits of eating the chili cheese fries when they first came to Denver,” said A-Rod. These hot delicious fries are part of what makes up the characteristics of the Denver culture in which A-rod is imbedded.
Luis’ father, Ernesto Majalca, migrated from La Ciénega, Mexico to the US, and his mother, Monica Trevizo, migrated from La Cieneguilla. Monica and Ernesto had lived all their lives next to each other, with the two pueblos of La Ciénega and La Cieneguilla only separated by a 30-minute drive. However, the first time they met was through Ernesto’s sister, who was good friends with Monica. They became acquainted at a social event, and as A-Rod mentions, “My dad wouldn’t leave her alone. He kept chasing after her for months until my mom finally said yes and went out with him.”
Luis’s family tree is more intertwining than the usual family’s, but maybe that’s the Story of American life. His three older brothers, Andrew (22), Adrian (21), and Marcos (20), have different mothers but share the same biological father. However, Marcos and Luis share the same biological mother, but have different fathers. Regardless of the intertwining lines of relation, these are A-Rod’s roots and family life.
Growing up as a single child has given A-Rod more time on his hands to handle his own life, which entails an expansive dream of skateboarding. “I’ve pretty much grown up a single child. My brothers Adrian and Andrew live away from home, and my mom, dad, and Marcos all work a lot.”
Being the black sheep of the family is something that can happen to a kid who has got a different take on life; in this case, A-Rod is swimming against the current. “When I look back on it, I don’t remember much of anything of my childhood. I don’t remember playing soccer, baseball, football or any of that. Sometimes I talk to my dad about how I feel sorry for him that I wasn’t the son he could take to basketball games or any of that. I’ve always just been about skateboarding,” said A-Rod.
As a 6-year-old kid, young Luis would get on his board and simply cruise around the streets. “I didn’t know what being a professional skateboarder was, I just did it for fun.” As a skateboarder, nothing compares to the simple idea of riding on top of a piece of wood with four wheels for pure joy. A-Rod got a taste of what it’s all about from early on.
The first skateboard that a skater has implies a handful of interesting things, which includes the context of a certain time period in skateboarding. For the skate nerds reading this, you’ll have a good flashback of the 90s companies and gear that was around. “I bought my first set up at Emage Skateshop in Downtown Denver. I had a brown Mini Logo board, with Royal trucks, Spit fire wheels, Reds Bearings, and Black Magic Grip tape,” said A-Rod.
Usually, the first exposure a young skater has to the skateboarding world is an unforgettable and impressionable moment. The vast and diverse sub-culture of skating that began in the West Coast has rocked through America, inevitably becoming a living, breathing being that’s composed of thousands of skaters searching to thrash. This was no different for A-Rod. “The first time I even heard of skateboarding being a big thing was through a Transworld Skateboarding magazine I bought when I was ten. Before then I would only shop at Zumiez, which isn’t really a skater-oriented shop since they can’t sponsor you. After that I started looking for a real skate shop, and that’s when I came across 303 Board Shop (coincidentally on Colfax Avenue),” said A-Rod.
As time would pass, ten-year-old A-Rod would begin to grow alongside the Colorado skateboarding scene, backed up by 303 Skate shop. “No other shop compares. It’s only skateboarding in there, unlike other places that have other sports and activities tied to their merchandise and business. I represent the shop by wearing their shirts and buying gear from there, and eventually I became a shop rat, always spending countless hours there. 303 is one of the few shops in Denver that is dedicated to skateboarders and skateboarding in Colorado,” mentioned A-Rod.
At the bold of age of 12, A-Rod faced a life decision that would shape the rest of his years in Colorado thus far. After being exposed to the skate industry, A-Rod began trying tricks, flipping his board in every direction and grinding ledges and rails. Eventually this led to a wrist injury that placed A-Rod in a difficult situation for a kid. “I was trying to krook grind a hand rail, and next thing I know I’m flying forwards. I fell with my full weight on my arm, and my wrist snapped right out of place. It hurt a lot, but I was more in shock about my wrist breaking. Out of the adrenaline rush that I got from it, I sat down on a bench and popped my bones right back into place by squeezing them together with my knees. Without knowing it, I saved my mom a bunch of money for the hospital bill; they wouldn’t have to worry about relocating my bones. I ended up getting a skimpy cast, the kind that you wrap around your arm, and a whole a bunch of Vicodin. I was drugged up for weeks because of the pain.”
Recuperating from a broken bone mostly kept him busy, but another looming concern left A-Rod perplexed for the following weeks. “My mom didn’t want me to skateboard anymore. I considered football, but that’s just not me. I even took up BMXing for a little bit, but after a while I said, ‘the heck with that.’ It’s not as much as a rush as skateboarding is. I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I went back to it.” A-Rod had to make a life decision. He didn’t have his mother’s full support of skateboarding because of the fear of his getting hurt, and as the years passed his friends began to outgrow skateboarding. “My friends got into cars and girls, which is cool too. I mean I’ve got a girlfriend of my own and a car, but I always stuck to skateboarding. That was my pastime, my main focus,” proclaimed A-Rod.
After this incident skateboarding became more than just a pastime, it became a goal and a dream for A-Rod; but dreams do not come easy, or cheap. “I have to buy a new pair of Nike SB (skateboard) shoes about every two months, and a new board every three to four weeks, depending on how hard I skate it. I don’t buy pro model skateboard decks from the big companies because they never last me. A deck from 303 will last me ten times more; it’s a full 8-ply wood deck and shaped how I like it,” said A-Rod. Pro model boards are meant to last only about two weeks (considering that one is skating it aggressively). It could be that it’s a part of a marketing scheme, where a skater breaks his pro model in two weeks and has to go back and buy another one time after time until they are left scraping floors for loose change to save up for just one more deck. “I want to be able to do what I want with out worrying about money too much, and that’s why a sponsorship is my goal,” said A-Rod.
Your average American kid will most likely go to school and excel in their classes, eventually pursuing a type of collegiate degree; A-Rod’s skateboarding influence changed all of his academic plans for his life. “My life in middle school was terrible; I had no priorities and I was failing almost all my classes. My parents ended up signing a waiver that allowed me to pass my classes and keep on skateboarding, which was what I was mainly doing with my life at the time,” said A-Rod. At TJ, Luis has had the realization that school is important for society, and that if he can’t make it to the top through skating then he will end up studying to be successful in other outlets. “I plan on studying cinematography and photography if I don’t go pro, that way I can still document skateboarding and be involved with what I love.”
Skateboarding’s all about ones own discipline and drive to get on top of that wooden chariot every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lonely life as a skater. In fact, skating’s been evidently successful when groups of like get together to set out and “skate and destroy.” C.L.A.S. (Crispy League All Stars) is Luis’ take on a skate crew, including three of his friends which are all artists pursuing their joy of skating. “There’s Tyler, he does all the shirts stickers and grip tape. Virgil is our filmer, he has a really nice expensive camera so we’re good on documenting out skating. And then there’s me and my friend Jose, and we’re the ones that get the nice lines down and skate on camera,” said A-Rod. Even though they all have their own strengths, C.L.A.S. is more of a support system between four ambitious skaters looking for good times and a little extra money on the side.
Currently studying as a Freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School, Luis carries out the life of the average teenager, with the exception of his underlying goal, but maybe that’s how circumstances are for every kid in high school. With his eyes set on a professional sponsorship, and a “crispy” skate crew rising in the abyss that is the skating sub-culture, Luis has got a grind (other than his krooked grinds) on what’s coming next in his life. “School and education is there, but at the moment I can bargain with my studies and my skate career. I just want people to know my name, I’m concentrated entirely on my goal,” said A-Rod.