Growing up Roller Skating & Raising Artistic Roller Skaters
In episode #6 of the Roller Skate Dad podcast, I talk with my good friend Alberto Quinones who has been skating for the past 25+ years. In our chat, we talk about:
- Alberto growing up in Mexico and skating to El Paso, Texas everyday from Juarez, Mexico for 10 years!
- How he helped keep his two teenage boys motivated to be both roller and ice artistic figure skaters.
- Advice on how to keep your kids and yourself motivated when skating.
- How to teach others to roller skate.
- What we can do to make roller skating more popular.
- And much, much more. It’s an action-packed episode, so you don’t want to miss it!
If you want to learn more about Alberto, or just connect with him on social media, you can find him below:
Here are also a number of videos of Alberto that I pulled from YouTube.
Here is the roller skating rink that Alberto grew up skating at in Juarez. He and his sons travelled back there to take a tour and have a good skate recently.
Skating Mount Bonnell in Austin
This is a really beautiful part of the city with really large grade hills.
Follow that Skater
Alberto has a drone that he’s programmed to follow him as he skates. This gives some really awesome aerial views of him skating. I gotta get me one of these drones. 🙂
Episode 6 Transcript
Jeff: 00:00:03 Hey everybody. Welcome to the Roller Skate Dad podcast. This is episode number six. Let’s get started.
Announcer: 00:00:21 Welcome to The Roller Skate Dad Podcast. The show that covers everything and anything in the wonderful world of roller skating. Now here’s your host, The Roller Skate Dad himself, Jeff Stone.
Jeff: 00:00:37 Hey everybody. I want to welcome you to the Roller Skate Dad podcast. In today’s episode, I’m going to be doing my very first interview on the show and I thought there was nobody better for this first interview, then a good friend of mine from Playland Skate Center where I roller skate. He’s a roller skate dad himself and his name is Alberto Quinones.
Jeff: 00:01:00 Before we start the interview, I wanted to give you just a little bit of background information. Alberto has two teenage sons, Max and Luciano and both of them used to be figure skaters, artistic skaters on both ice as well as on roller skates. Alberto also knows how to do a lot of these jumps and spins as well, but he himself has actually never competed, whereas both of his boys have. I thought Alberto would be perfect for the first interview because he always has an interesting story to tell me every time I see him. Plus on top of that, he just eats, sleeps, drinks and bleeds roller skating. He just loves to roller skate. Okay. Enough of an intro. Let’s get started.Expand To View Full Transcript
Jeff: 00:01:44 So, Hey Alberto, how you doing?
Alberto: 00:01:48 Good. How are you?
Jeff: 00:01:49 I’m doing good. It’s been a while man. It’s good to get to talk to you again. It feels like it’s been a year since we saw each other last
Alberto: 00:01:58 Probably, close to that. If not, if not a little bit more, but it’s been a while.
Jeff: 00:02:05 Yeah. Well, so tell the audience a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where’d you grow up?
Alberto: 00:02:12 I grew up in the 90s, and as a teen, the inline craze was going on, and it was going on strong. Everybody wanted to skate inlines and I gave it a shot. Maybe I was probably, I’m gonna guess 18, maybe 17. I was still in high school so he could have been 18 and I always wanted to do figure skating officially, like you actually get a coach and you get proper skates and everything. But that dream was pretty quick shot off by the price of the skates and the price of the lessons and the price of the ice time and all of that. But to another venue, meaning the inlines came along. So I decided to give that a shot and then I just had the most fun just growing up and I would try to mimic, you know, artistic. But I grew up in a town, a border town near El Paso – Juarez, Mexico.
Alberto: 00:03:11 I was born and raised in Juarez, Mexico. And, they opened this rink and the most amazing thing about this rink, and I’m probably getting off topic here, but it was originally intended to be like a bowling alley. And that thing didn’t pan out. So the owners at the time had invested on somewhere on the upwards of $3 million in that building. And they couldn’t actually, I think that they were only short of finishing that building, with the machine, because the machine’s required to do this, you know, the pins and all of that was an additional thing. But let me, let me pull back to the story. So they, they couldn’t, they couldn’t open it as a bowling alley. And as they were finishing up the building, the owners of this place, saw their own kids playing hockey, inline hockey on that place and to say, well why don’t we just open a skating rink? And that’s how the skating rink that I grew up with came out to be.
Jeff: 00:04:16 And now this was a roller skating rink or an ice skating rink.
Alberto: 00:04:19 It is still now a roller rink shout out to Fiesta Park. It was called Fiesta Roller. They later switched it over to Fiesta Park, which they started adding all kinds of things. Kind of like an amusement park kind of deal. But that’s why, that’s where I started. I grew up as a rink rat there. And every now and then I would try to go and do ice skate. But then the price of the skates, I was like golly, that would scare me. I mean not having an income and not having the opportunity, it’s just like, okay, well then that’s not going to work. But I was, I had the most fun growing up on a rink doing a bunch of skating and, and I don’t know if I want to call myself an artistic skater. I really don’t know. But that’s, that’s where I grew up. That’s pretty much what happened.
Jeff: 00:05:09 I knew you, I knew you were from Mexico, but I didn’t know you actually lived in Juarez. So you said that you didn’t actually start skating until you were like 17 or 18 is that right?
Alberto: 00:05:19 Yes. Skating in the sense of inline skates. I’ve always did a skateboard and I always try to do something athletic. I guess, you know, all the, all the stars lined up and gray because as I was finishing high school, I started working. What income did, is that I actually took control of my own choices as far as saying, okay, well, you know, I can’t rely on my parents to buy me skates, but now I have income. You know, one of those things that I could probably remember for the rest of my life, is debating as to whether to spend upwards of $150, which, you know, by, by the measure of my income, it was a lot of money. I mean, maybe, maybe it isn’t today, but
Jeff: 00:06:10 How much of that would have been your income back then?
Alberto: 00:06:13 My income back then could have been something like 25 cents above minimum wage, but again it was a substantial amount of money for me, you know, not having see the world and not having had a stable job where you actually saved money. I just remember as soon as I could, I could, you know, gather the money. I was just debating. It was a Christmas, so I was debating whether to go cheap and have a little bit of extra money or to go to go as far up the scale on the quality of the skates and then wind up with, you know, $5 of, of, you know, change or something, you know. And I thought, well, if you’re going to do something, um, you might as well just go all the way.
Jeff: 00:07:08 So you got the expensive ones?
Alberto: 00:07:10 I got, I am not going to say that they were the most expensive ones, but they were the best skates my $130 could buy. I remember.
Jeff: 00:07:21 So what were they? I’m sure you remember.
Alberto: 00:07:23 Those were by a company that I don’t know if they are still around, they were Bauer’s. It was either an F3 or F5 Fitness Skates and I loved them. I fell in love with them the minute I tried them.
Jeff: 00:07:39 That’s awesome. You started skating at this skating rink and then you decided to get your own skates and once you got those skates were you just then always skating at the rink or were you skating outdoors a lot too? I know you’re a big outdoors skater as well.
Alberto: 00:07:57 The outdoor skate actually was my natural, you know, cheap – ok, I have skates now I can skate. But, then this place came around and everybody kept talking about it, and they were like, ‘hey you got to go try that place.’ And I was like, ‘I’ll give it a shot’. But immediately you could sense the vibe of this was something new and wanted. You know, unbeknownst to me these skating rinks are something very traditional here in the states, but you have to understand this was Mexico. This was a gamble, for all I’m concerned, for these people to do the rink. At that time, I just went to the rink and I knew for the first time what it was to smell that coating. You know, people that have actually skated in rinks know what I’m talking about. That smell of the epoxy. I just fell in love and, and then I kept going and going and going. And before I knew it, I spent, I would say just about every hour of free time that I could at that rink.
Alberto: 00:09:02 And then, I kept, you know, meeting more people there and I got to meet my ex-wife there. And, uh, it was, it was just a great time. Today. One of the things that actually strikes me the most, you know, the same people that still skate will actually resonate to this is that I hear people telling me, remember how good of a times we used to have. And I kind of tell them, look, I’m still having a great time. I haven’t quit. Um, I, I don’t, I mean I’m not, I’m not delivering the experience of skating back when I was in my prime and I was probably young and everything, but I’m still having a good time. I still do.
Jeff: 00:09:44 Yeah, you do. Every time I see you at the skating rink, you’re always having a good time. You always have a smile on your face. You’re always teaching somebody how to do something you know how to do. You’re trying to dance with somebody.
Alberto: 00:09:55 I try, but I do that out of my, I guess my conscious understanding of the fact that life is finite. Meaning, I mean, it’s all gonna come to an end eventually, whether I like it or not. So I try to, I try to do that in every, in every possible way.
Jeff: 00:10:11 Well, it definitely comes through to those of us who who see you skating. Every time I see you, you always make me happy.
Alberto: 00:10:19 Oh, thank you.
Jeff: 00:10:20 I appreciate that. You’ve told me a lot about what it was like being in Juarez and skating there was, was Juarez dangerous at that time. I mean you see a lot of stuff in the media today about it being a really dangerous place. Was it like that for you when you lived there?
Alberto: 00:10:36 No, not at all. It wasn’t. This wave of violence was something almost relatively new to I’m going to say five years ago, maybe, maybe eight years ago. But, fun fact, this is something that I probably didn’t tell you, but skating turned into my way of transportation for the longest part.
Jeff: 00:11:01 I didn’t know that.
Alberto: 00:11:04 Yes, it did. It actually, I actually put on a lot of miles commuting from Juarez to El Paso. So fun fact, I probably hold the record of the most international crossings on skates for a period of I’m going to guess 10 years.
Jeff: 00:11:24 Wow. You did that for 10 years. You roller skated from Juarez to El Paso everyday.
Alberto: 00:11:32 Yes, on a daily basis. Yes. And it got to the point where the border patrol, or custom officers, kind of knew me. And I was like, okay. And it got to the point where I would try to skip the line because basically there’s actually two ways of entering the border. One is you’re either driving, and when I mean two ways I mean through an international bridge or international port of entry such as El Paso or, or any of those border cities. The main two ways and just about, and there are variations, is that you either drive, you have, you have a car, a vehicle, and you go through a gate where vehicles go. Or you are a pedestrian, and you go to the lines for pedestrians. And that can be, if you remember 9/11, that was in 2001 or was it 2002?
Jeff: 00:12:32 2001.
Alberto: 00:12:33 2001. And even prior to that, even a good six years prior to that, no, I’ll take that back. Five years prior to that maybe. People would actually go, and would actually cross the border with a bike and go ride through the lanes of the cars. And people that actually make their way through border crossings know what I’m talking about. It amounts to simply skipping the pedestrian line and going right into the car lanes to, to the checkpoint. And I would do the same on skates forever. I’m telling you at the very least I did that for between seven and 10 years.
Jeff: 00:13:22 Wow. You must have been really fit?
Alberto: 00:13:27 Yes, that actually gave me, that actually gave me a lot of stamina because at the very least I would have to skate 35 minutes to get to work or school or wherever it was that I needed to go. And the international bridge or bridges I should say, come up to slope, come up to a high point, which is roughly between 50 to 60 feet up in the air and then they come down on the other side of the border. So it wasn’t just a simple straight flat bridge over the river, you actually have to go through an elevator bridge. So that was a workout. And then I have to figure out pretty quick on the downhill side how to slalom. So I could actually, you know, come to a manageable speed down at the bottom. And you would have to do it in a way that you wouldn’t eat up your wheels. So that actually gave me years and years of practice.
Jeff: 00:14:32 Wow, that’s amazing. I never knew that story. You’ve never told that one to me before.
Alberto: 00:14:37 Yeah. Now, 9/11 came and then they forced everybody to follow the rules and say, ‘okay, now if you’re not driving a car, you have to join the pedestrians and you have to, you know, stay in line’ and everything. It got to the point where on skates, they moved me to the manager of the port of entry and said, ‘okay, Mr. Quinones? We know you. We know who you are, but look, look boss. We have to follow the rules here. I know. We know who you are, but you have to, you have to go through the line of the pedestrians.’ And then it became, you know, the lines became so big and so unbearable that I said, ‘you know what, I’m actually just going to move to El Paso’. I said, ‘to hell with this, I don’t want to cross the border for the rest of my life, and do you know, do two hours of waiting. And I said, ‘no, I’m not doing that’. So I stopped doing that. But, to answer your question, yes, that actually gave me a lot of, it actually kept me fit for a while.
Jeff: 00:15:47 Okay. And so then I guess you weren’t really skating to work at that point, right? Cause then you lived in El Paso, right?
Alberto: 00:15:54 That was moving to El Paso and growing up as an adult was one of the saddest things that I had to do. I mean, there was other pleasures in life, such as watching your kids grow up and you know, doing other things like driving a car to work. But it was, I gained a lot of weight from that. I really did. So I got disconnected from that skating rink in Juarez. So I remember very vividly that I would ride the bicycle for miles and I would, I would have this recurring broken record, ‘I’d rather be skating, I would rather be skating. I would rather be skating, I would rather be skating.’
Alberto: 00:16:44 But, I was doing that for health reasons meaning I was like, ‘okay, I don’t, I’m not skating. I know I would rather be skating, but I got to do this’. But then things didn’t work out with my ex. We got separated and I said, ‘okay, all right, so I don’t have to drive that far.’ Now I have to find a way to go back to what I used to do that used to make me so happy. And there was a skating rink, an ice rink, in El Paso. And I said, ‘okay, all right, I can, I can play with this. There’s no, there’s no skating rink per say as of roller skate, but there’s an ice rink. Why don’t we do this?’
Jeff: 00:17:29 An ice skating rink in El Paso?
Alberto: 00:17:29 Yes.
Jeff: 00:17:29 A lot of people not in Texas would think that’s strange. I’m sure people listening in like Minnesota would be like, ‘they have ice skating rinks in Texas?”
Alberto: 00:17:43 Yes. Well, and it gets so hot that over the summer they close it for about a two month period or I guess something like that. So I found skating again at the age of 35 I’m going to guess….33.
Jeff: 00:17:58 So, how many years in between did you not skate?
Alberto: 00:18:02 I’m going to guess a good four or less.
Jeff: 00:18:05 Oh, that’s not too bad. I was probably closer to 12 or 13 years before I came back.
Alberto: 00:18:12 And you know what’s good? I once heard from my, I think it was from my Chrissy’s, my ladies, dad. And he said, ‘look, humans are more or less like a sponge. And when you’re brought into this world, you are a clean sponge. There’s nothing in it. There’s, there’s nothing. Now imagine life as a table. Now, what you’re going to do is you’re going to pass, you’re going to make a pass through the table of life and that sponge is going to absorb whatever you want to put in there. And I said, okay, as in, and then he said, well, and once you put it in, good luck trying to get it out. Good luck trying to clean that sponge out of whatever you put in there first because it’s not going to go away.’ And it makes a lot of sense because when I felt that my life was falling apart because of the separation, I said, ‘well I got to find something that really, really makes me happy’ and skating it was and it really did.
Jeff: 00:19:26 What is it about skating that you just like so much? You know you were talking about that smell of the skating rink, but there’s obviously more to it than that for you because you were doing all this outdoor skating going from Juarez to El Paso.
Alberto: 00:19:40 I think for me it’s expression. If I had to narrow it down to what it is, the most rewarding part of skating is that I get in the zone. And what I mean by that is, is that I get the equivalent of somebody doing yoga or somebody doing meditation. You get into this zone where you not necessarily thinking, you’re just performing. You have certain muscle memory patterns of movement. And when you listen, well when I listen to the music, it actually puts me on a place that is so momentary, but it’s at the same time, so it’s almost like a drug. It’s relaxing at the same time and it pushes you and then there is purity on the sensical pursuit of it. There’s no lies about that. If you actually put in the work on skating just like anything else that is physical, you actually see the results. There’s, there’s no lying, there’s no pretending. Somebody that actually puts effort and time and their hearts and souls into this, you actually see the results from that.
Jeff: 00:21:07 I can definitely understand what you’re talking about. I’ve heard it described in the business world as, getting in the flow. So it’s kind of like a, something that artists and even engineers and different people get into where they actually just kind of lose track of time. They’re having so much fun and enjoying what they’re really doing that time just kind of seems to, to escape.
Alberto: 00:21:37 And it really does. I think I would agree with that. When I was growing up, I was very shy. And I would see everybody having fun dancing. And coming from Latin America, from the Latin culture, everybody has to dance. Everybody. I mean that’s, that’s just part of who we are. And I was very shy but skating opened that just a little bit and just a little bit of it and just a little bit and you know, little by little, you know, hour by hour spent there. It just actually opened this, this side of me that I don’t really care who’s watching. That’s the most amazing thing about it. Because I don’t, I don’t even care. I just, I kind of like to skate and I could, I could care less. It’s just I just get lost into the activity.
Jeff: 00:22:31 I can totally relate to what you’re saying. Like you just, it’s just carefree. Yeah. That’s awesome. So it sounds like you didn’t get started skating until you were about 17 or 18 you got your first pair of skates, you left Juarez, you came to El Paso, you started skating again after like four or five years of being away from it. I’m curious to know, you know, how to do all these artistic jumps. Stuff that I used to train like four or five days a week for three or four years I did this with my sister and you knew how to do this, but it also sounded like you never took any skating lessons or any, anything like that. So I’m curious who, who actually taught you how to do that?
Alberto: 00:23:17 Well, I did take lessons but I took them very briefly because while I was very early in the separation, I got a hold of my sons. And I’m going to tell you when he was seven we started going and it was either paying for me or paying for him. And my oldest at the time was seven. And so I did take, I mean extreme notes. I mean I was, I was OCD about it. I was very, very passionate and you know, compulsive about it. And I took my son, but, to answer your question, I did take lessons. And I did a lot of hours on ice a lot. And I still get involved in projects when it comes to ice shows and things here locally in Austin.
Jeff: 00:24:12 I wanted to go back to something that you said just a minute ago. You were saying that you took some lessons, but your, your son was taking them as well and it, it sounded almost like you were, you were saying like it was either you or him, like you wanted him to take the lessons, but you kind of, you kind of made it sound like you really wanted to take the lessons too, but maybe you couldn’t do both.
Alberto: 00:24:34 Well, unfortunately, if you ever wanted to do figure skating, it’s pretty expensive. And it would have seemed unfair for me to spend money on me and not on my kids. Especially when the brain is fresh, you really want to put it where it actually matters. If I had all the money of the world, don’t get me wrong, I would’ve actually taken those less, but it just didn’t happen to be that way.
Jeff: 00:25:01 So your kids though did get to take those lessons. I know that both of them were pretty avid artistic ice skaters and I think they even did artistic roller skating as well, didn’t they?
Alberto: 00:25:15 Oh yeah. In fact, Max is 2016 national champion. We were very lucky to have people that helped us along the way. There was a skating rink in Katy, [Texas]. They were very kind to accept us into the rink and give us guidance as far as the competitions. And we made it to regionals. And then from regionals we went to nationals and Max is a national champion on inline and Luciana got bronze on that competition. And now Max is getting to that age where he likes to skate and I feel the responsibility of not having to push him that hard because, by the end of my kingdom, and I call that the kingdom meaning between the age zero and 18 by the end of my reign, I want to have a friend. I don’t want to have somebody that is going to hate me for pushing him into something he may or may not want to do. So I tried to take the foot off the pedal and say, ‘okay, if you want to do it, then by all means lets do it.’ But if you don’t then I’m not going to get in the way of that. I don’t need to give him reasons to not like the sport because I like it so much.
Jeff: 00:26:30 Yeah, yeah. What about Luciano? Did he continue doing it or is he kind of in that same state?
Alberto: 00:26:37 Oh Luciano is having the most fun and it’s funny how you may have plans for kids, but your kids have plans of their own. Because Luciano started developing a condition to where your feet curl in. I think it’s called supination. And that was in part because the inline skates were not properly lined up so he could have the proper support. And then we said, ‘okay, Luciano you can’t be doing that kind of skates because it’s obviously making your supination even worse.’ We decided not to do more speed skates, which are, for those of you who don’t know, those are low cut and then you have to develop the strength on your ankles to really, really skate on them. But he wasn’t happy. He was on the figure skates and he was like, okay, you know, skating but not not a whole lot. So we got him some skates that are not necessarily low cut. They’re more like a marathon, which is not all the way to the top with ankle support but not all the way to the bottom where there’s no ankle support. And he’s having a blast. He just can’t wait to go skating again. So there you go. Even though I wanted to have another figure skater, he is having a blast on whatever he likes.
Jeff: 00:28:01 That’s awesome. Well I remember you coaching both of your kids quite a bit. Like when I would see you at the skating rink, because I’ve known you for a long time now. I mean certainly when the kids were, gosh, what, eight nine, something like that. I know for sure when Max was that little because that’s how him and my daughter, my younger daughter Violet are almost the same age. And so I certainly remember knowing you back then and I know you coached the boys quite a bit yourself. What was that like?
Alberto: 00:28:31 That was very hard for me because now in hindsight, that was hard for me but that was in, in my view necessary. And I’m not saying necessary in the means of having to coach, but for me it was super important for my kids to develop character and discipline and to face physical failure to where you want to do something but your body doesn’t necessarily respond. And I did that because Austin did not have a figure skating club. And I took it upon myself to try to help them, as much as I could. And then I also did that on ice. So there was another period of my life where I would actually leave early from work because I would start very early in the morning so I could leave at 3:30 pm, so I could pick them up and take them to the ice rink.
Alberto: 00:29:28 And that was, I’m sure that if you, you asked them back in the day, they would hate me for that. But now they, they remember how they developed this sense of pride of having gone through training and getting the best of it. You know, getting, getting to the rewards of the training. And they kind of miss it, too. Even Luciano tells me, ‘I wish we could go, I wish we could do more ice.’ Yeah, but it was a very interesting time. I would do that again in a heartbeat.
Jeff: 00:30:03 Well, you certainly seem to really enjoy it. I remember watching you guys, you know, talking and you helping to coach them and kind of keep them motivated, which, which kind of was part of what I wanted to ask you about. You know, during this time I, I know that there were times that, you know, maybe your kids didn’t want to do it that day, you know, what did you do to try to keep them motivated and keep them going?
Alberto: 00:30:29 I’m going to formulate it in a way of a question. If homework was due, never, when do you think you would turn it over? And the answer is never, right? So, I didn’t allow that never in there. I was hard. I was hard on them. It was like, ‘no, I really don’t care much right now about your feelings. And, we going to get through this and then you go on in your life and your day.’ So, now this could all be considered bad or, or you know, borderline abusive. But, I do believe that discipline, it’s actually good for you. Now not, not abuse. Abuse is useless. But discipline. So there was never a negotiation. I leave very little negotiation about them not training. Obviously if they were sick or there was more pressing things I wouldn’t do that. But that was the thing to do.
Alberto: 00:31:31 And I remember one incident where my, my oldest hinted that if I could come up with half of the money for a video game that he wanted. And then I quickly told him, ‘well if you have money and you have time for a video game, you obviously have time for something else. So what is it going to be? Jujitsu or running or karate or what else? Because I’m going to tell you right now, I’m not going to give you money for a video game.’ And that could be borderline harsh. And then from there, my son pretty much understood that there was no money coming out of my pocket to give him any kind of a pleasure when it comes to sitting in front of a TV or something like that. And those ideas have consequences. We go out and ski and we have the most fun. We go out and skate outdoors and we have the most fun. It’s hard at the beginning, but once it’s part of the software, it’s just what it is. It doesn’t even have to be negotiated anymore. It’s just part of, okay, we are going to go skate. We are going to go do 20 miles. All right, lets go do 20 miles. Or let’s just go have fun with some sort of an activity.
Jeff: 00:32:49 So your kids aren’t ice skating or roller skating competitively anymore, but what you’re saying is, is like you guys are going out and doing all these big outdoor kind of events now.
Alberto: 00:32:59 Yeah. If you’re familiar with Walnut Creek Park, there’s about four miles on the north side. It’s probably probably a four mile stretch. So, if you do it one way and the way back, then you’re doing eight miles. And then there is South Walnut Creek and that’s a 10 mile stretch. And it’s like, okay, well what are we going to do for fun? How about if we go 20 miles and then they say, what do you mean 20 miles? Well, we’re going to go 10 miles that way and then we’re going to go 10 miles north and we’re going to come back 10 miles going south. And we would do 10 miles of skating. Now you, you try to get any kid their age, any kind of activity like that and they just can’t do that because there’s better things to do for kids these days. They will sit playing with the phone or things like that.
Jeff: 00:33:58 So you know, during this time when your kid didn’t really want to maybe practice that day, you know, how did you keep yourself motivated to stick with it? From a coaching perspective.
Alberto: 00:34:11 it’s difficult because you have competing desires and obviously you don’t want to become this dictator that is hated. But then at the same time you don’t want to give leeway to just being lazy. It’s just difficult. And how did I do it? You know, I would talk to them and say, look, I may understand that you don’t want to train and I may understand that you don’t want to skate. And I might even understand that you don’t don’t want me, especially me coaching you, but one thing I’m not negotiating with you guys is the fact that you’re not going to just sit around. You better pick soccer or pick archery – pick something. But the idea that you come to me and say I don’t want to do this, you better come to me with a solution as to what else are we going to do? And they never came up with another solution. So, it was like, ok, ok, we’re going to go skating.
Jeff: 00:35:26 That’s pretty funny. That was a Jedi mind trick you pulled on them, Huh?
Alberto: 00:35:32 Yes. It was. And it was like, okay, look, I can understand that I’m not, I’m not being unreasonable if you don’t want to skate. I understand. Okay. You don’t want to do figure skating. I understand. If you don’t want to do whatever it is that you don’t want to do, I understand. But not doing anything is not on the table. It’s just not, so you better pick something else because either we are going to get you in soccer or we going to get you in football or we going to get you into something, but nothing is not on the table. It’s just not it. It kinda gave him like a perspective of like, oh, so you mean to tell us that if we get away from not skating we’re still gonna have to do something? Okay, well I guess we’re going to go skate. It was funny. It always worked.
Jeff: 00:36:30 I know you and I have talked about this before about how we typically see, you know, you’ll see kids and they’ll start skating when they’re younger and then they hit these teenage years and then often you don’t see the kids ever again. And then it’s kind of funny because then you start to see people as they get into their late twenties and early thirties and some of them start coming back to the skating rink. You know that we talked about that as like kind of like the circle of skating. It seems like that a lot of people go through. I was wondering why you think we do that or why we don’t stick with it, you know, during our teenage or our twenties I was kind of wondering if you had a theory about why that happens.
Alberto: 00:37:12 Okay, well let me preface this with any theory that I know, I don’t know. This is just me just having ideas, but somebody that knows is going to say, oh you’re full of it. But I think we are animals of repetition. And we are, whether we like it or not, we are very predictable. And we have some allocated hard drive and some of us that come back to skating or come back to archery or come back to good habits, we can consider ourselves very lucky. Because while its nobel and it’s rewarding to go back to the activity that we go back, some other people have come back to bad habits. But to answer the question as to why they leave, I think it’s just normal. It’s just a normal part of growing and seeing other things. As we grow up, certain things are appealing to us and we may or may not achieve all or some of the goals that, you know, there were set as we encounter basketball, baseball, football, whatever sport that is.
Alberto: 00:38:29 And then what I think happens is that it loses its appeal. A teen growing up and seeing a bunch of things, especially media nowadays, you know, skating can’t compete with that. You know, you have to let them grow and see how other things and and then you, you only hope that, you plant the seed and then eventually once they, you know, do this Rodeo and they see what’s out there. They say, ‘well maybe I don’t like that. So I’m gonna go back to what I actually used to like’ and that’s how most people come back to skating.
Jeff: 00:39:08 Yeah, I think that’s definitely how I’ve come back. I think there’s a lot of other people like that too. For me, it was really just something fun to do with my kids that I was actually good at still.
Alberto: 00:39:22 You’d be surprised how easily anybody can get good skills. I was just reading this book about Outliers by the buy Malcolm Gladwell. Some of the things, it just amazing that it took me so long to read it now, or at least listen to it on Audible. But part of the reason as to why people become very good at it equates nothing more to the time that you actually spend doing the activity. And if anyone who sets out to do skating or bowling or whatever the activity that is, anyone can gain the skill and knowledge. Anybody can become proficient. I don’t care how bad of a skater you are, I can, with enough dedication, I can get anyone and I mean anyone to do certain things. To do really, really go high end on the scale. You know, some people have this belief that some people got it and some people don’t. But what you find out is that the most dedicated people typically are better. There’s a direct correlation to that.
Jeff: 00:40:33 It’s about effort more than it is about talent.
Alberto: 00:40:37 Yeah. Talent doesn’t exist. Once you go up to the upper echelon, you know. Talent fades away at the presence of effort. You just don’t see it once you start, you know, going up to more complicated or more skill.
Jeff: 00:40:55 So I know you’ve taught a lot of people, you know how to do jumps and spins. I mean you were talking about your own kids, but I see you doing it with other skaters there at the rink, too. You know, they see you doing something, maybe a dance move and they’re like, ‘how do you do that?’ And you know, I’ve been trying to push more and more on this show to get more people out there that know how to skate to help people that maybe don’t, or that want to learn something new. So I was wondering if you had maybe two or three tips that you would leave to the listeners, you know, to help them be able to teach other people how to skate better?
Alberto: 00:41:33 Oh, definitely. Uh, well let me back it up first. One of the things that I value the most is information. And typically when we get informed, we actually don’t have to do the same mistakes as other people. So my efforts to teach people is so they don’t have to go through a number of falls before they get proficient. There’s no need for you to fall. I mean to get proficient. Now, if you want to get excellent, if you want to get excellent and you want to be super, super skillful, then I, I can’t, I can’t tell you enough that you’re going to have to fall a few times. But if you would just want to get proficient and you want to have the most fun, there is really no need for you to fall. Because that’s probably going to discourage you more and keep you from coming back to the rink.
Alberto: 00:42:27 And one of the things that I, I kinda like to tell people is something as simple as to skate on the carpet. If you know nothing about skating, I don’t need you to fall 20 times. I don’t, I don’t need to. I want you to have fun. And I know that the brain works on a very predictable way, and I know that it’s going to take some repetition for your brain to hone in on a pattern of moments that you’ve never done. But, I don’t need you to do that while you are having to worry about you landing on your butt. I don’t need that. You don’t need to fall 20 times. You don’t need to break a leg to learn how to skate. Number one, if I see that your skate level is such that you can’t even stand on your skates, then why don’t we try the carpet? Please do the carpet. It’s not gonna hurt you. The carpet is going to be very forgiving. The carpet is going to take care of you and if you fall, you’re going to manage your fall and it’s not going to be a catastrophic fall. So that’s lesson number one.
Alberto: 00:43:39 And let’s just say, let’s just say that you are skillful enough that you don’t need the carpet. Well, then that is a different starting point. Okay, let’s just say that you have enough balance to stand on the skates but not enough balance to skate on the skates. Okay, we’ll make it a balancing game. Don’t make it a skating game. Just make it a balance game and just do small steps. Don’t worry about skating and don’t worry, don’t lose yourself into thinking that somebody else has better skill than you because we all start on these basic levels of of learning.
Alberto: 00:44:26 That’s the number two advice that I would give people. Imagine that if you were doing yoga, you were just trying to balance and forget about speed. You don’t have any means to gain any speed, if you’re actually trying to gain skill. Just get speed out of the equation. A lot of people try to make up on speed what they lack on skill and that’s why you fall.
Alberto: 00:44:51 And the last one, which is very basic for entry level, is that let’s say that you know how to skate very slowly. The next big thing that I actually encourage people to do is maintain that balance on one foot at a time. Because if you can differentiate by those skaters that have a lot of skill and those that don’t, the only difference is their ability to stay on a skate one foot at a time. You don’t know anything, no need for you to fall, just do the carpet. And if you need to do 15 minutes of carpet before you get on the, on the actual solid floor – so be it. You know your memory is going to develop in those moments, and your body’s going to, you know, appreciate that you don’t, you didn’t beat it up with the effort to skate.
Alberto: 00:45:45 Number two: If you know how to do it and you just want to get better, get speed out of the equation. Speed is not going to ever compensate for skill. And then lastly, if you have a little bit of skill and you just want to get better, one foot at a time.
Jeff: 00:46:04 That’s awesome. Thanks so much Alberto. That’s great. I want to switch gears just a little bit. I’ve got a couple of other questions I wanted to ask you. So I know that you have done like all kinds of artistic jumping and you know, I’ve seen you. What’s the biggest jump that you’ve landed before on ice skates or roller skates? I’m just curious.
Alberto: 00:46:27 I tried doubles, but I never got solid on doubles. It was a hit and miss. But for me singles, the six basic singles – no probably not even the lutz because with the lutz I was always having trouble with it.
Jeff: 00:46:48 Well you’ve landed an axle before, haven’t you? I thought I’ve seen you land an axle before.
Alberto: 00:46:55 Yeah, but single axles are very easy. But I did try to do doubles and that didn’t work out. And at my 43 years of age, I can actually do single axles and they’re pretty simple.
Jeff: 00:47:10 Yeah, well you and I are very close in age. I’m actually going to be 44 here very soon and I can’t land an axle anymore. There’s no way.
Alberto: 00:47:24 Those are patterns that you register in your brain and, and then if you don’t, if you don’t abandon that activity, they kind of tend to stay with you sorta.
Jeff: 00:47:33 So do you feel like as you’re getting older, do you feel like you can still improve or do you feel like there’s a plateau there?
Alberto: 00:47:41 I think you can still improve. Now, maybe not in the leaps and bounds that you can, that you would if you were 20. What happens is that the body starts reminding you of joint manipulation. Like, no you can’t do this and you’t can do that, but you can still improve as far as balance. Because then you refine the art of doing more things of skating without having to kill yourself. And eventually I’m sure I’m going to hit a plateau and I’m sure I’m going to, if I haven’t hit it already. I’m sure I probably have. I don’t know if I see if I could compare my video now and what I used to do when I was 20. I’m sure I have, but I’m still active.
Jeff: 00:48:31 Yeah, definitely. I know you and I’ve talked about goals and aspirations before. I was wondering, do you set skating goals for yourself. Things that you’re trying to learn how to do.
Alberto: 00:48:42 All the time. All the time. For instance, I, I, you know, loops on ice skates are very easy because you have a toe pick and the toe pick actually allows you to come off the ice without, without much effort. And then on inlines (roller skates) you don’t, you don’t have a toe pick and you have to make it on edge jump. And as a matter of fact, I’m trying to get my, my, my loop, not a toe loop, but just a loop jump, um, from, from a backward position and all of your ducks have to be in a row. I mean all of your body position, all the rotation, all of the arm position, all of it has to be aligned and I’m finally getting it back. And you might think, ‘you’re not going to compete. What do you care?’ But, it’s actually a way for me to keep my body more or less responsive and active.
Jeff: 00:49:46 Yeah. I think it’s also like you get a little bit of a rush too when you actually are successful, right? At being able to accomplish whatever it was that you’re trying to do on skates regardless of whether you’re competing or not.
Alberto: 00:50:01 All the time. I think that’s part of why people come back to skating because it gives you some sort of accomplishment. At least it does to me.
Jeff: 00:50:11 Yeah, I can definitely see that. So I just got done recording a show. It was kind of fun actually. I just was doing it earlier this week and I was actually documenting all the skating injuries that I’ve actually had throughout my life. And I was curious, just because I know how much you skate, what kind of injuries have you had before?
Alberto: 00:50:35 Oh, if I had to rank them, the more serious would have been a concussion. I was out, but not knocked out. I was doing a lift with my ex, and there was something on the floor that caught my skates, and I fell backwards. But she was on my arms, like she was up in the air, so she landed good, but I landed on my head or something like that. So according to them, I never lost consciousness, but I was blanked out. So I did have a concussion. Joints all the time. Knees. I one time almost thought that I tore a ligament, but it, it turned out to be just, just a pulled muscle / ligament. I don’t think I had a full tear. I just had a small tear on my, it’s the opposite of the ACL. I think the MCL, uh, elbows,
Jeff: 00:51:38 Elbows are definitely my problem. Why are they your problem? Why do you have elbow issues?
Alberto: 00:51:44 Well, when you don’t know how to land or, or somebody takes your feet out from under, we have the tendency of swinging arms behind us to gain balance. And when you post or sometimes you don’t you sometimes land on the elbows. And you know, one of the things that I tell people when they’re starting to learn is that to keep your, your body posture a little bit forward because it’s a lot easier to manage a fall landing on your hands and then you know, more or less decelerating and that way then flailing, you know, backwards and landing on your elbows. Shoulders too. Let’s just say that you fall and you post. If your arm is strong enough and your shoulder isn’t, you’re gonna bust it. So yeah, I have a couple of, I have a bad shoulder on my left side.
Alberto: 00:52:43 Uh, and that was skating I think too. So let me, let me add it up. So it’s a head injury, a shoulder, an elbow, knees, MCL. And then I, I also develop on my right foot what’s called a, I don’t even know. It’s kind of like a bump inside the tendon to where I tore some ligaments, not ligament, but maybe some tissue inside that I grew some sort of a bump on the back of my ankle, like at the, what’s the opposite of a toe? The heel. It actually developed like a callous, that never went away but not at the skin level. But inside.
Jeff: 00:53:30 Ooh, that sounds painful.
Alberto: 00:53:32 Yeah. So I thought it was going to go away, but it never did. But then it, I just have a bump. It just, it just feels weird. But, it doesn’t hurt anymore. If I was to take a picture of my heel, you can clearly see what you would normally call a callous, but it’s on the inside. The skin on the outside is perfectly normal. It’s just on the inside. And I’m sure there’s a name and the doctor told me, ‘yeah, they’re not going to go away.’ And I said, ‘what do you mean it’s not going to go away?’ And then say, ‘well, I mean we can operate it, but do you really need to? It’s just not going to hurt anymore.’ I said, ‘okay. I guess just leave it.’
Jeff: 00:54:09 Yeah. It’s funny how we just kind of deal with whatever injury we might have. Are there any things that you do to try to prevent injuries, you know on yourself?
Alberto: 00:54:18 Yeah, good skates. That’s one. I don’t try to go beyond my limits. That’s two. I do warm up and I don’t, I used to, when I was young, I used to skate into a rank and just pour my heart into skating. Just cold turkey. But that doesn’t work when you get older, you just have to warm up. I take my joints very serious now, but I try not to exceed my limit. And believe it or not, I try to eat less. Because if I get a little heavy then it just all on my joints, it’s just very hard. One of the things that it actually took me a lot to, you know, come to terms with is that there’s no amount of skating or exercising that will ever compensate for the amount of food that you just want to eat. I have competing desires as to what I want to eat and what I shouldn’t be eating and I try to eat less and staying more or less trim makes my skating a lot better. It just allows me to skate and not feel bad about it or not feel bloated or heavy on my knees on it. You know what, while I skate.
Jeff: 00:55:43 Awesome. Well I think we’re definitely way over time. I knew we probably would be, but I wanted to ask you one last question. One of the reasons why I wanted to start the podcast and the website is because I’m trying to figure out how do we actually make skating more popular? And how do we get more people away from the iphone and the IPAD and the computer and the television screen and get more people out skating? So, I was just curious if you had any parting wisdom there about ideas that you might have on how we might be able to accomplish that.
Alberto: 00:56:20 I think I have a very solid idea to how that is done. Being animals of repetition and in mimicking, nothing brings more people to skating then seeing good skating being done. A rink manager can spend all the lights and bells and whistles on the rink. He can put the coolest lighting or whatever, but if I go to a rink where I see high level skating. I want to mimic that more than I want to mimic the lights or the video games. So that’s why I try to help just as much people as I can, because giving people the idea that through effort, through hard work and dedication that you can get it. Then people come back and people find it rewarding. I never seen a place where people come back just because it was nicely decorated. I’ve always seen ice rinks, you know, packed or, or activities being done just out of the pure level of competition. And that goes the same for skate parks. And that goes the same for gymnastics and football and soccer. People like to come back to see competition. People like to see, ‘oh, so he’s doing that now? Let me see if I can do that.’ That’s what I’ve seen that happens, but I could be wrong.
Jeff: 00:57:50 Well, Alberto, I want to thank you so much for coming on the podcast. This was awesome. Thanks for spending so much time with me.
Alberto: 00:57:57 Thanks, yeah! It was a lot of fun!
Jeff: 00:58:00 Oh right. I hope you guys enjoyed that interview with Alberto. This was just the first of many interviews that are still yet to come in future episodes. If you know someone that you think would be a great guest for this podcast, please reach out to me. Head on over to RollerSkateDad.com, click on the contact link and let me know about it. If you want to connect or learn more about Alberto, you should head on over to the show notes at RollerSkateDad.com/6. On that page I’ll also have links to Alberto’s Youtube channel as well as his Facebook and Instagram accounts so that you can connect with him directly in case you have a question for him. He has some really cool slalom outdoor photos where he’s going down these giant hills in the hill country here in Austin that are really fun to watch. He actually has a drone that’s following him while he’s skating outside, so you might want to check that out.
Jeff: 00:58:58 The show notes are also a great place to leave me a comment about the show. If there’s something that you think needs to be improved or if you have an idea that we didn’t cover or you just have a comment, that’s a great place to do it. So head on over to RollerSkateDad.com/6 and drop me a note.
Jeff: 00:59:17 We didn’t really talk about equipment today in this episode. However, if you are ever looking for the resources or equipment that I recommend you can head on over to RollerSkateDad.com/resources.
Jeff: 00:59:32 If you like what you hear, then please subscribe to the podcast wherever you’re listening. Also be sure to rate and review the podcast. Rating and reviewing the podcast is how we actually get this message and get the podcast out to more and more people. So do me a favor and please subscribe rate and review the podcast today.
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Jeff: 01:00:18 All right, everybody, that’s another episode in the books. We’re through six episodes already – I can’t believe it. I want to thank you guys again so much for being here. And so, until the next time, get on out there and skate.
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Did you like what you heard? Do you want to hear more? Check out these additional episodes:
- Episode 1 – Get Out There & Skate
- Episode 2 – The Roller Skate Wheels Episode
- Episode 3 – The Roller Skate Bearings Show
- Episode 4 – Teaching Roller Skating to Others
- Episode 5 – Roller Skating Injuries & Protective Gear
- Episode 7 – Rollergirls: The Story of Flat Track Derby
- Episode 8 – The Roller Skate Boots Show
- Episode 9 – Starting a Roller Skating Rink
- Episode 10 – United Skates Documentary with Tina Brown and Diana Winkler
Until the next episode, get on out there and skate!