Truth Smith first stepped on a skateboard approximately 14 years ago at just three years of age, sparking a love for the sport that could last a lifetime.
Now just 17 years old, Smith is going into his fourth year of coaching, and his first as the head coach of the newly formed Whistler Skateboard Club (WSC).
Using the knowledge passed down from his father, Smith started as a coach by volunteering his time at the local skate park, teaching other kids tricks and giving them tips on how to get the most out of the park. And he did all this for one simple goal—to change skateboarding’s bad reputation.
“I just wanted to see more kids skateboarding and loving the sport,” said Smith. “People used to think it [starts with skateboarding] and then you’re going to smoke weed or do drugs and I just wanted to show that the skatepark isn’t a bad place and skateboarding isn’t a bad sport.
“So, I do these lessons and get these kids kind of going so that if they wanted to, they could come back by themselves. I just wanted to share the love for the sport.”
Given Smith’s dedication to being a positive influence in the sport and his incredible talent level, he was an obvious choice for WSC owner, Harrison Gray, to bring in on the ground floor of the new club when he had the idea for it last fall.
“Truth couldn’t live up to his name more,” said Gray about what Smith brings to the WSC. “I’ve known [him] now for almost 10 years … He’s an amazing, super talented, smart kid that has the world ahead of him. He’s always got the best attitude at the skatepark, he’s always the one smiling the most and he’s there the most as well.”
According to Gray, Smith has a great ability to break down the techniques that he’s teaching the kids in a way that is easy for them to understand whether they are a true beginner or an intermediate rider looking to compete and in need of more detailed instruction.
But what really gets Smith fired up as a coach is seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces when they accomplish something they didn’t know they could and then begging their parents to let them stay longer and ride more.
“Oh, I get stoked. It’s like a blast from the past, you know?” said Smith, reminiscing about the feeling he got when he landed his first back 180 disaster nose grab on the mini-ramp his dad built for him when he was eight years old.
“It’s like I’m feeling all the same things that they’re feeling, just because I’m there with them and I’m taking them through the steps and I’m feeling like how I felt when I was doing those things. I’m pretty much shivering because I’m so excited for them.”
For the month of June, while kids are still in school, the WSC will be holding weekend programs from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. But once summer vacation hits, it will shift focus to three-day camps running Monday to Wednesday each week. It also has private lessons available, will be hosting a couple of pro-day sessions this summer with members of the Canadian National Olympic Team including Adam Hawkins and Maddy Balt, and will be holding a Skate and Create program later in the summer with local artist and skateboarder Dan Poechman.
Moving into next year the WSC is hoping to continue expanding the programs it offers and incorporate a more high-performance, competitive program to the club.
But whatever the future of the WSC may be, one thing that is for sure is that Smith will be a part of it and will continue to pass down the life lessons he has learned through the sport to the next generation of shredders.
“I’ve learned so many life lessons from skateboarding, that I probably would not have learned if I never went to the skate park,” said Smith, citing things like independence, determination and resiliency.
“So yeah, get your kid on a skateboard, send them to the camp. It’s a lot more than just skateboarding. You meet new friends, you learn lessons, it’s rad. And I’m stoked that we get to do it.”