Support our mission
 
Dylan Thompson, a seventh-grader at Zama American Middle School, does a double kickflip during a Gate Japan skateboard competition Aug. 26 in Nagoya. The 12-year-old amateur is the 2007 series grand champion in the middle and novice classes.
Dylan Thompson, a seventh-grader at Zama American Middle School, does a double kickflip during a Gate Japan skateboard competition Aug. 26 in Nagoya. The 12-year-old amateur is the 2007 series grand champion in the middle and novice classes. (Courtesy of Transworld Skateboarding Japan)
Dylan Thompson, a seventh-grader at Zama American Middle School, does a double kickflip during a Gate Japan skateboard competition Aug. 26 in Nagoya. The 12-year-old amateur is the 2007 series grand champion in the middle and novice classes.
Dylan Thompson, a seventh-grader at Zama American Middle School, does a double kickflip during a Gate Japan skateboard competition Aug. 26 in Nagoya. The 12-year-old amateur is the 2007 series grand champion in the middle and novice classes. (Courtesy of Transworld Skateboarding Japan)
Dylan Thompson appears at a Gate Japan skateboard competition in Saitama in May.
Dylan Thompson appears at a Gate Japan skateboard competition in Saitama in May. (Courtesy of Otto Thompson)
Thompson received these trophies Dec. 13 at an awards ceremony in Shibuya.
Thompson received these trophies Dec. 13 at an awards ceremony in Shibuya. (Courtesy of Otto Thompson)

A Zama American Middle School seventh-grader is turning heads in the world of skateboarding.

Dylan Thompson finished this year as the amateur grand champion in the novice and middle classes of Gate Japan, the country’s largest skateboard contest series. It’s the first time anyone has won two of the league’s three divisions — expert being the other — and he was honored last week at an awards ceremony in Shibuya.

“It feels great, especially since it’s my first year,” the 12-year-old said. “It’s kind of weird because I was just starting out. It’s kind of interesting to see how far I’ve gone in the last two years.

“I finished first or second in all four contests this year. You have to be very consistent. It’s like getting straight A’s for a long time.”

Like many kids, he once thought skateboarding was just a way to pass time with friends. A little more than a year ago, he decided to get serious about it.

Dylan made his competitive debut at a Gate event in November 2006, placing second in the novice class. He completed the full circuit this year, appearing at competitions in Kobe, Nagoya and Saitama twice.

The Gate series involves a mix of professional and amateur skateboarders. Although Dylan generally competes against other amateurs, on a few occasions he has appeared in the expert class and gone up against the pros, including skaters in their late teens and early 20s.

“When you’re skating, you don’t notice the audience. You don’t notice any of the outside things there,” Dylan said. “Of course, you get nervous. But you’re more nervous about landing your tricks.”

He used to play soccer and remains interested in hockey, but he started devoting more time to skateboarding after catching images of pro skateboarders showcasing their aerial skills to rock music on the Internet.

Dylan said it made him want to take his own boarding further.

“It’s independent. You get to work at your own pace. You can be creative,” he said. “There’s no coach, no one telling you what to do. It’s unique. It’s fun, and it’s what I want to do.”

But riding down a stair’s handrail or performing a “double kickflip” at the top of a three-story vertical ramp can be intimidating.

“One of the hardest things is getting over fear. You’re gonna be scared. It’s high, and it’s dangerous. It’s not something everyone does every day,” Dylan said. “When you fall in skateboarding, they call it a ‘bail.’ People might be afraid to try it again. You have to get over the fear and keep going.”

In June, he took part in Windells Camp at Mount Hood, Ore., a skateboard-snowboard clinic that’s produced many of the sport’s biggest names, including Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White.

Dylan said the experience elevated his skateboarding dramatically, and he got a chance to try out several parks in the Portland area.

He was born in Alexandria, Va., but moved to Camp Zama with his parents just before turning 3. His mother, Sachiko, and his father, Otto, are his biggest supporters.

“We are very proud of what he has accomplished in such a short time and at such an early age,” said Otto Thompson, who works as district counsel for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Japan Engineer District. “It’s like any sport. It requires skill, practice and determination. … He’s worked so hard.”

Dylan says he’d like to turn professional someday. Until then, he’s motivated to return to the Gate Japan circuit in 2008.

“I want to keep pursuing the skate dream,” he said, “One day, I hope I’m a pro.”

Migrated

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up