Are there skate parks in Greenville? There have been starts and stops, but no public skate park exists in the Upstate. In fact, as of now there is only one private skate park — and its owner and founder, Adrian Gallardo, and his partners want to change that.
What happened to the other skate parks? The No Name Skate Park off Roper Mountain Road closed around 2013; the Poe Mill skate park was organically built with the sweat equity of the local skateboarding community but was most recently boarded up for a proposed new workforce housing development by the Greenville Redevelopment Authority.
Where can you skateboard? Gallardo and the other owners of the Blazer Surf and Skate Shop on Laurens Road were determined to find a spot for kids of all ages and abilities. He coincidentally met Pastor Todd Perkins, who had relocated to Greenville in 2014 to start a church with his brother. The church he came to in Taylors had an unused boarded-up basketball gym, which he offered to be converted for an all-wheels park. Perkins renamed the church East North Church and helped open The Board Ryders Club in February 2020. Perkins said his congregation has new young families, and he wanted a new community outreach mission.
Where is the club? The Board Ryders Club is at 4108 E. North St. behind the East North Church. The park is the entire gym and is open 3-11 p.m. every day except Monday.
Who can skate? All wheels are welcome. Gallardo makes a special point to refer to the Board Ryders Club as an “all-wheels park,” including scooters and skates, not just boards (but no motorized wheels allowed). The club has rentals available for anyone who wants to try it out. Day passes are $12 and monthly passes and scholarships are available. Special days are planned, including a previous event on Fathers Day (June 21 was also National Go Skateboarding Day) with music and free food. The club has an active Facebook group and posts images on Instagram of events like a recent contest and concert.
Want to be inspired? On Saturday morning, students from the Hope Academy, children on the autism spectrum, take lessons at the Board Ryders Club in a new program called “Seeking Momentum”. Robert Martin, the dad of one new skateboarder, says, “It is truly heartwarming to watch a special-needs child smile and laugh after getting on a skateboard.” He says the founders and instructors are “true community heroes.” These parents know the challenges of organized sports for their children and have found a sports outlet at the Board Ryders Club.
What if you don’t skate? Parents can sit in the air conditioned balcony and watch the skating, as one mother did while her 8- and 9-year-old boys skated below. The boys were confidently navigating the ramps while she looked on and told me she liked to see them get better each time as they achieved improved balance and hand/eye coordination. Gallardo even noted that the younger one was “dropping in” since the last time he visited the gym. (OK, I had to ask what that was — “dropping in” to the half pipe from the top instead of starting at the bottom — and I feel that much cooler now knowing.)
What is next? Gallardo wants two things: to get kids through the door and on skateboards and help get a free public outdoor skate park in the Upstate. He is confident he can help raise six-figure sums from national organizations like Tony Hawk’s Skatepark Project, which has invested over $10 million in more than 600 skate parks around the country. The Board Ryders Club can help raise the needed money should there be a land partner. In the meantime, Gallardo and his partners are actively cheering on all the kids — big and little — who come through the door.
Amy Ryberg Doyle served for 12 years on Greenville City Council. She is married and has four children. An outdoors enthusiast, she likes to bike, swim and run, but not all in that order. She power-naps daily.