Big Wheel Blading’s COVID-19 Coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every skater in the world in some way. In this series, Essential Workers, Inline Skaters on the Front Lines of COVID-19, we talk to inline skaters from around the world who are considered Essential Workers. This is the second part of our COVID-19 coverage, check out the series Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19, where we check in with various inline skaters from around the globe to see how the pandemic has affected their life. If you’d like to contribute an editorial piece or have any comments or suggestions you can email janericwelch@bigwheelblading.com.


Alex Hogan is a 34-year-old inline skater living in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Alex works as a journalist for a healthcare outlet called STAT.

Do you consider your job essential?

Yeah for sure. People need good info during this crazy time

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self-isolating?

Thankfully I can do my job remotely.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

As long as I don’t spill coffee on my laptop or something I shouldn’t really have to leave the house. I’m very fortunate.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

Same as it has for so many people- getting a little stir-crazy. I have a two yr old home which can be challenging, but he is loving life right now. He doesn’t know what is going on and is just happy to be home all day I think.

What are your concerns going into the future?

This virus is no joke. I’m concerned for everyone that suffers from COVID-19 and for every doctor and nurse and first responder- everyone on the front lines. We’re not nearly out of the woods. We’re hardly IN the woods.

Are you still skating?

The more this virus rages on the harder it is for me to think too much about skating. But everyone needs a distraction, so I’m going to try and get out here and there. I’m primarily an aggressive skater but I really, really do not want to get hurt skating until this is all over. I will probably do more long-ish distance trail skating to clear my head, get some fresh air and exercise.


Mike Shelton is a 41-year-old inline skater living in Fort Myers, Florida, USA. Mike is a broadcast technician working in master control for a television station.

Do you consider your job essential?

A lot of my job is automated but I have to make sure everything is programmed correctly and be here in case something goes wrong. I am responsible for any EAS Emergency Alerts that may come through. We average about 300,000 viewers a week.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self isolating?

I feel secure as I can be.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

I am more worried about everyone else who is greatly affected by the pandemic.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

I work second shift so the only thing that has changed is that Walmart is not open when I get out at midnight anymore. So now I have shop at an actual grocery store.

What are your concerns going into the future?

An economic collapse would be very bad.

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

I recently had to retire due to injuries.


Nick Bagley is a 27-year-old inline skater living in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Nick is a scientific photographer specializing in the retina.

Do you consider your job essential?

My job is most definitely essential. The majority of our patients will go blind if they don’t receive treatments monthly.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self isolating?

Although it is almost a guarantee I will be exposed to the virus, I would much rather keep working than stay at home.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

My concerns are for our patients the majority of them are elderly this making them more susceptible to the virus.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

The pandemic has closed ski resorts thus stopping my main hobby.

What are you concerns going into the future?

I am concerned that we will be shut down completely and many of our patients will go blind.

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

I still skate curbs and small rails and usually do that alone as it is so the virus hasn’t impacted my skating


Rob Tze Hing Ting is a 37-year-old inline skater living in Melbourne, Australia. Rob is a disability support worker for a 52 year old man with a brain injury.

Do you consider your job essential?

Of course. There’s no extra staff so we’re doing whatever it takes to make everything happen for him.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self isolating?

I have to get the train everyday with a face mask on gripping a bottle of hand sanitizer like it’s my only option. I’d rather be at home, but I also wanna make sure old mates okay through all this. I’m more stressed out my girlfriend goes to an office full of people everyday.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

That if we get sick, I’m putting my mate at risk. And if we all can’t work he’ll be moved to a care facility, also I’m a New Zealand citizen and we can’t access welfare in Australia at the moment so no job = up shit creek

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

Life’s on hold. I’m a tattoo artist and musician and that’s how I made a majority of my income before this.

What are you concerns going into the future?

That there’s gonna be no future, that I’m gonna get stuck here and not even be able to go home or get any support. My girlfriend is here, my friends are here, but I don’t have any entitlement to welfare at this time. (Fingers crossed I don’t get fucken sick travelling to work every day by public transport).

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

The skateparks are locked down now here so I just skate in the streets, keeping my body moving and brain from exploding.


Stephanie Bennett is a 37-year-old inline skater living in Clemson, South Carolina, USA. Stephanie is a home health physical therapy assistant.

Do you consider your job essential?

When people think of physical therapy, especially skaters, we think of rehabilitating sports injuries. In home health my patients probably average 80-years-old and have many chronic health problems. In a typical visit, I assess vital signs, check medications and make sure patients are taking them correctly. For many home health patients, my visit is the only time they sit up and or walk. I do not perform lifesaving measures at every visit, but without movement and positioning changes, people deteriorate quickly and end up back in hospitals where they are much more susceptible to infections.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

Of course I’d feel safer at home, but my elderly patients are very scared right now and they need someone to encourage them. I am glad I have my job and for now I feel safe. My husband has multiple sclerosis and is immune compromised. I am afraid of bringing something home that could be devastating to his health. But as of right now I am not treating anyone with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19. I do expect that to change though. When it does I will use all PPE available.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

My husband is on furlough and at the moment my case load is lower. So financially we have been affected, but not nearly as much as some. Several weeks ago I passed on going to the Pow Wow event in Florida and another skate meet up. Given the patients I work with I could not make choices that would increase my exposure and then subsequently affect my patients.

What are you concerns going into the future?

I just want this to be over. I am concerned that one of the nursing homes I am in could have an outbreak. I’m concerned about finances… probably the things most people are concerned about.

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

Yes, in empty parking lots and paths for big wheel blading. Most public parks are closed but there is a private outdoor park I still plan to skate. I go early so it is usually empty. My heart is in aggressive skating, but I big wheel blade for fitness and had an awesome time skating the A2A event last fall.


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Jan Welch

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