Sacramento has a long history of skateboarding and the Mather AM is striving to keep the tradition strong. On Saturday, June 31st the Mather Sports Center was home to the 6th Annual Mather AM. The event is open to all who love the sport of skateboarding and included the best trick contest, tranny jam, and everyone’s favorite, a product toss. The event benefits Project Lifelong a local non-profit with the goal to empower youth through skateboarding and adventure. After all, what’s more California than skateboarding?
TUBE. was able to sit down with Anthony Hernandez, longtime skateboarder and founder of Mather AM and Sean LaTour, founder of Project Lifelong to talk about how they started and where they’re going.
TUBE.: How did the Mather AM start?
Anthony Hernandez: Primarily, it was to give back to the community that has [been] giving to us for so many years. Skateboarding and that skate park, in particular, has been critical in shaping me and who I’ve become. It felt natural to give back to the community that has been so giving to me, and been so welcoming.
TUBE.: Sacramento has a thriving skate scene and several skateboarding companies. How did you partner with Project Lifelong?
Hernandez: Five years prior, we had been getting some support from local brands and we started reaching out to larger businesses. For smaller brands, it’s a bigger ordeal to give and we wanted to find a way for them to participate. We had also been wanted to partner with a non-profit so that local brands could participate easily. The more I looked at Project Lifelong, the more I understood they spoke to the message we were trying to send anyway which is, have fun and go skateboard and give opportunities to kids who may not otherwise have it.
TUBE.: Where do you see the AM going in the future?
Hernandez: Ideally, we want to keep it going. For the future, we anticipate keeping it going as long as we can and bring Sacramento to a larger scale with an invitational amateur contest. The current AM will live on with all its glory at the skate park. If we can create an in-space for Sacramento with a lot more skateboarder influence and inspiration then we can incorporate big events to shed more light on the Sacramento Skate Community. Ideally, we would like to get a new facility built and attracting new sponsors and brands along the way.
TUBE.: How did Project Lifelong start?
Sean LaTour: Project Lifelong started at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo as a senior capstone project. I was majoring in Education at CSU Monterey Bay and I had to identify a population that was not being served by the school system. Growing up as a skateboarder, I have experienced first-hand the negative stereotyping and marginalization that comes with identifying as a skater. Therefore, I saw an opportunity to create a program that supports students who are passionate about skateboarding, and provide them with positive adult mentors, much like how traditional sports [do]. We really wanted to combine the best parts of traditional sports without being over organized because skateboarding should not be organized, ever. That is what makes skateboarding so pure. There is so much money in traditional sports so why not put $5,000 into a storage container and fill it with some wooden ramps and create afterschool programs with skateboarding?
TUBE.: Every year you host a summer camp at a cost of only $25 to families, but you are growing the program to after school as well? How are you funding Project Lifelong?
LaTour: Project Lifelong has been fortunate enough to partner with an existing non-profit called the Sherriff’s Community Impact Program (SCIP). SCIP was started by my 7th-grade basketball coach and mentor who went on to become a Sacramento Deputy and ultimately, founded SCIP. Once he heard about my college project, he offered me a small grant to get things going.
For the last three years, we have been primarily a summer camp. Last Fall, we did a GoFundMe and raised two thousand bucks which paid to do one trip a month with the kids through the fall and we stretched it into the spring but it was not enough.
Since then we have grown and expanded, partnering with Mission Oaks Parks and Rec and also receiving community grants from organizations like the Arden-Arcade Rotary. In March of 2018, we launched a donation campaign asking our supporters to commit to monthly, sustaining donation in amounts of anything from $1 to $100 a month. So far, we have over 80 donors and we are bringing in over $16,000 per year. One of our main goals in raising this money is to expand our program to an afterschool and lunch-time intramurals program. This year, we got a cargo van donated from a local parks and recreation group. Now there is funding to fill the cargo van with a couple ramps, a small quarter pipe, rails, helmets and skateboards to do an after-school and lunch-time skate program.
TUBE.: Is the program open to all genders?
LaTour: Project Lifelong is open to all genders. We had two ladies skate with us all summer in 2017 and they had such a good time. I feel like it is so important to have young women a part of Project Lifelong for many reasons. One benefit to having females in the program is that it changes how the guys act on the trip. Their young teenage attitudes shift very quickly when they are surrounded by females their age. With the launch of the after-school program, we hope to bring out some great adult female skaters to show the young girls that girls can skate just as much and as hard as the boys can.
TUBE.: What are the long team goals of Project Lifelong?
LaTour: The long-term goal for Project Lifelong is to keep the program affordable for everybody, while providing unique, growing experiences for underserved populations. We charge families $25 for the whole year and if families are on free and reduced lunch, they only pay $5. We want to serve skateboarders on a level that is on par with traditional sports programs in terms of easy access to the sport, adult coaching and mentoring, and also excitement and pride about being a skater. It’s not just about creating organized skate teams, it’s also about creating programs the way that skateboarders want them created.
The Mather AM is held every summer at the Mather Sports Center, 3755 Schriever Ave. Mather, CA 95655. This year’s sponsors and giveaways included some big names in skateboard: Adidas, DLX, NHS, Alien Workshop and a lot of local skateboarding support from Pizza, Official, Lurk Hard, Doom Sayers, PLA Skateboarding, and Boulevard Skate Shop. Hernandez said the 2018 event was a success and expects 2019 to be even better.
Every year Project Lifelong host a summer camp open to all youths 12-17 at a cost of $25 a summer and is starting an afterschool program this fall thought Sacramento. To learn more about Project Lifelong or join as a monthly donor visit them on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Words and Photos by Joey Miller.