Heath Burley and Mick Casals are two longtime fixtures of the Austin, Texas rollerblading scene. Together they are hosting an event called T for Texas Roller Riot on March 17th. This event will showcase multiple disciplines of inline and roller skating through demos, lessons and contests. If you are in Austin during SXSW you should pop over to Pan American Park to check it out! In the meantime Heath answered some questions about the event and what he is hoping to achieve.
Tell me about your event, what are you planning to do and who are you involving?
T for Texas Roller Riot is taking place on a roller derby flat track at Pan American Park in East Austin. At one time the track was a large tennis court, which became a do-it-yourself skatepark before it’s current form. Throughout the day we will be doing demos and providing lessons of multiple disciplines of rolling; aggressive, free skating, slalom, big wheel blading and roller skating. There will be several contests going on as well including, flatland, high jump, and aggressive/quads on a street course. The street contest is an open competition with no entry fee. Part of the track will be sectioned off for lessons and flat land activities, while the other part will host a skatepark. The Donate and Skate Organization will be there giving away used skates and parts to those who want to pursue skating.
What are you trying to achieve with this event, what are your goals and what would you like to see happen?
We are trying to introduce rolling sports to the public eye. The event just so happens to take place the same week as one of the largest art and music festivals in the world (the name I cannot mention due to legal reasons.) Most skate events are focused on the contest aspect rather than that of demos. Yes there will be contests, which will be a big part of the event, but the demos are what I am focusing on. This is something that I feel sets us apart. Tens of thousands of people will be passing the event throughout the day. I feel this greatly helps our odds in achieving our goal of spreading the gospel of the wheel. If we can get even one person to start skating because of this, then I feel we’ve succeeded. Don’t get me wrong though, we are strongly encouraging people from all over to come to Austin and compete!
Tell me about rollerblading in Austin, how big is the sport and what kind of rollerblading exists there?
Rollerblading in Austin is bigger and better than ever. We have always had strong scenes for all types of skating, whether it be speed, distance, aggressive, etc . I think the Austin Rollerblading Facebook group has about 480 members, which indicates how big it is here. Yet until recently all the different disciplines tended to exist independently. That was until about a year or two ago when Mr. Big Wheel Blading himself, Jan Welch, started organizing social skates here in Austin. This was the first time we have had a group made up of all different kinds of skaters just hanging out and rolling together. We sometimes had groups as large as a hundred people on quads and inline skates mobbing the streets together. It was really cool to see everyone meet up and just skate no matter what type of skates they had. Hopefully after this event we will have hundreds of people cruising the city together.
How will the Austin roller skating scene be involved?
The involvement of the roller skating scene for this event is extremely important. Roller derby’s revival began in Austin in the early 2000’s and they have designated courses all over the city, one of which is where our event is taking place. So we actually owe everything to Texas Rollergirls for graciously allowing us to use one of their spaces. We expect to see a good turn out of roller skaters at the event and are currently working with groups, such as Chicks in Bowls, to see how they would like to be represented.
What made you and Mick decide to put a rolling event together?
Mick and I were talking about how we really wanted to do an event in Austin, but something that was more than just a contest. We felt it was ridiculous that a huge festival takes place every year in our city and that the crowds generated by it were not being utilized. I just want kids to share the same feeling we all do when we are skating and honestly I’d probably be dead or in jail if it weren’t for blading. Skating saved my life.
Do you need any kind of assistance, donations or sponsorships to help with this event?
We need gently used skates and parts for kids! Donate and Skate will be present, but to make this successful, we need all the skates in different sizes we can get. A major challenge we are facing is generating funds for prize money for the contests. The city will not allow us to have contestants pay an entry fee to compete. This means all prize money must come from donations and out of our own pockets. If you’d like to sponsor the event or donate in any way we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is this a kid friendly event?
This will be a kid and family friendly event! Free lessons will be offered all day for anyone that wants to learn how to skate. Our goal is to get as many kids (and adults) as possible into demo skates and to show them how much fun rolling is.
When: March 17th, 2018 from 12pm-7pm
Where: Pan American Park (Austin, Texas)
Ages: All Ages