The unforgiving sun was working overtime as a monsoon of sweat collected in my beanie. The stifling air had rendered me useless. It was Summer 2010 and the newly remodeled Jackson Skate Park was starting to resemble the fiery infernos of hell. I was about two seconds from having a heat stroke and decided to retreat to a semi-shaded section of the park. As I sat down, a lanky kid, decked out in Fallen gear rolled into the park. I sat in awe as I watched him nail trick after trick. I’m not talking about your basic board slides, I’m talking about flipping in and out grinds with a flow more consistent than Steph Curry’s free throws. This was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting one of New Jersey’s most talented skateboarders, Rob Werner.
Rob recently just garnered some mainstream skate attention from sites like Tony Hawk’s, The Ride Channel for nailing a trick that’s never been done down the infamous Love Gap in Philly.
“I didn’t even plan on doing a trick down Love that day. I had mixed emotions about jumping down the gap again because I stuck an air walk down it a couple of years ago and I was just kind of over it,” said Manchester, NJ resident, Rob Werner. “My homie Tyler (Nelson) was rolling up to do a heel flip. By the time he hit like fifteen tries, I was like alright dude I’m not gonna let you do it by yourself.”
At a spot like Love Park, you’ve got to earn respect. It’s not just going to be handed to you. Rob’s first few attempts at his trick didn’t help his reputation. He slipped on the gap’s run up and nearly slid down all the stairs on his ass.
“I was feeling like everybody thought we were kooks,” said Werner. “I stuck the trick and that kind of gave everyone the shock value, then right after that I landed it and rolled away. It kind of dismissed everybody. I’m pretty hyped because Ishod called the trick before I did it. He was honestly what inspired it, like in the back of my head it was kinda weird how it linked up.”
It’s pretty rare to have an elite skateboarder like 2013s Skater Of The Year, Ishod Wair witness you making history. Rob is humbled to have earned such recognition from his trick. However, he’s not solely relying on The Ride Channel feature to make a name for himself. Rob’s a noble character, always looking to give back to a community that has given him freedom of expression. For the past few years he has focused on garnering local New Jersey skateboarding talent through his multimedia platform, Suburbandkidz.
“For a while I felt like there wasn’t people giving a lot of recognition to people I skate with like Tyler Nelson or Matt Giovanni or certain other people around here that I knew ripped but didn’t get that spotlight,” said Werner. “I just basically took what I was gonna go to school for and I built a page based on that. I just wanted to give my friends more highlights for the skills they have.”
Rob’s got the coverage, he’s got the video parts, he’s got the sponsors and he wins contests. Here’s the thing, every state has a skater who skates at Rob’s caliber. In a world, with skate videos dropping and fading into oblivion in a matter of months, it is very hard to stand out. Skaters spend hours pounding the like button on an Instagram skate clip and there’s no sort of personal bond outside of the homies you skate with. Rob wants to break this cycle and find a true connection. About 2 weeks ago, Rob spent some time over in California, trying to make this happen.
“My whole point of going to Cali was two main things. One, I just wanted to see it and just enjoy it, then the second was just to meet the Dwindle guys and see where I could go from there,” said Werner. “Being out here on the east coast, my main way of connecting with them is through the Internet and you don’t really have that personal connection. It was nice to go out and put my face to the name, so they know who I am and not just my Instagram tag.”
Rob stays true to those who have looked out for him in the skate industry. This industry can be conniving and dismal at times so it’s very important to find who has your best interest in mind.
“A lot of people will be flippy floppy in skateboarding,” said Werner. You should always stick by the people who are always gonna back you for what you do. I have to thank Pro Skateboard Shop because they had my back from the day I walked in the door. Thanks to Enjoi, Tensor, Adidas and everybody in New Jersey that’s always hyped on everything I put out and just people who come back and send emails, DMs, messages and all the positive energy.”
I’d really like to see Rob make it in the skate world. He truly deserves it; humility is a very hard trait to find in a person who shows an overwhelming amount of talent in skateboarding. It seems that anyone who is skilled in a certain area, builds a gigantic ego around their successes. This is not the case with Rob Werner, as long as he continues to push (literally) he has the potential to become a staple in street skating.
“I know I might not make it and then in the back of my head I know that I might make it,” said Werner. “Being able to make it and being able to be an impression on new up and coming skateboarders is a large motivation for why I keep going. It would just be dope to be a positive influence in a time where there’s so many negative people out there.”