For the 67th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Billy O’Neill. Billy is a 36-year-old inline skater, podcast host and construction worker living in Long Beach, California. He is a former professional aggressive inline skater and a highly influential and respected legend within that scene, who currently hosts the world renowned Jump Street Podcast with Austin Paz.

What steps did California take to battle COVID-19 and how are things there now?

California did what most other places did by closing everything except take out food and home depot. Things are beginning to open up more, but gyms, bars, restaurants and schools are still closed.

Were you skating during the COVID-19 lockdown? Are you skating now?

I didn’t in the beginning, but then the more I learned, the more I realized what steps I had to take to be safe. So now I skate and feel safe doing almost anything. I skate everywhere I skated before, except less at skateparks. 

photo by Chris Calkins
What made you decide to stop skating at the beginning of the pandemic?

I was at the Panhandle Pow-wow event in Jacksonville, Florida when all of the information was starting to come out. I didn’t want to get all worked up, so at first was minimizing the whole situation. I hate to worry, worrying can make you sick and placebos work both ways. However, after so many people started to worry, I decided I better take Coronavirus more seriously, so I did. When more information came out, I realized what I needed to do to stay safe, so I stopped being scared and took the proper precautions to live my life again.

Are you doing any cross training? 

No, I did go to a boxing gym regularly before all this, but the government closed them all. I hope it opens back up, because I really like my gym and the man who owns it.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time? 

Working, skating, tending my garden, hanging with my animals and spending time with my girlfriend takes up most of it.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

No hugging friends or family, no gym, no pub… It effects my life pretty much the same as everyone else.

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

Personally, I am concerned about my little family and their well-being. On a larger scale, I worry about humans susceptibility to brainwashing. It’s a real problem. 

How is your local skate community responding?

Everyone is handling it differently. I’ll drive by the skatepark sometimes and it will be packed with little kids. People around my age and in their 30s seem to be acting a bit more responsibly. Recently, some sessions have been happening, but everyone is being cautious. 

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Reality is subjective. Don’t force your perception of reality on others. Think for yourself. Think way out of the box on purpose, just so you know it is YOU who is actually doing the thinking. Be kind. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume. Do your best. Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Help others if you can. Act within your conscience. Spread love…eh, that’s all I got…much love Jan.

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Header photo by John Goez


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