The way to make it in skateboarding is to pull a trick better than anyone else. Plain and simple. But one of the greatest tricks the upper echelon of pro skaters ever pulled is sticking around. Those of us who grew up skating have the distinct pleasure of watching our pro skate idols grow up.
Most people know Eric Koston as the funnest player in the Tony Hawk video game series as well as appearing in Skate 2 and Skate 3. Although turning 40 earlier this year, the Thai-American star shows no sign of stopping. His colleagues, teammates and countless downtown skate rats have called him “the Michael Jordan of skateboarding” but the two most important kids in his life call him “Dad.”
We caught up with Koston at the mouth-watering Oakley in Residence skatepark, a free shred spot built right across from LA’s Fairfax High. “My whole life has always been a juggle,” says the man who founded the clothing line Fourstar at 21 years old. “You gotta balance things out. I do travel a lot but try to spend as much time as I can with my kids. I actually love traveling with them. Now that they’re getting older it’s like a big learning experience. My daughter went to Japan when she was nine months old. Now we’re going back. You gotta take advantage of the time you have with them. And spend as much time with them as you can.”
So how does a real-life video game character who still spends half his days on a skate deck connect with his kids? “Sometimes little things,” he explains. “Like, I just remodeled my pool and jacuzzi. They always want to go in every evening. It’s kind of a good way to wind them down. I love it, because by the end of the day my body is so beat up. They really want to go in the jacuzzi almost every night—splash around in that thing.”
Koston gets that familiar dad-look in his eyes when he talks about things like this: “They actually make me jump in the pool, because it’s freezing cold and they laugh. They love that.”
Swooping in to play with the kids after a business trip could be any dad, but this athlete—whose sponsorships range from Nike to Oakley—likes to keep his family involved at all times: “Bring ’em where it fits. Where it works for them. I like them to come with me, but if not, I like to keep the trips as short as possible.”
That means not just playing dad, but partner, especially when he’s home: “Just giving my wife some alone time. It’s always the other way around. For the most part I just like to let her do whatever she wants to do. Go get a massage. Spa day. Something like that. So taking them when I’m around. Just taking over and giving her that break.”
And for all the skaters who grew up playing Hawk who are now playing Dad? “Spend as much time as you can with your kids,” Koston suggests. “It’s really important. Being a part of their lives. Their first couple of years especially your first. I never like being gone from them for too long. If you go away for a week, they would change. In a week. You feel like you really missed out.”
Sounds like the greatest trick of all.