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Skaters not bored with new business

May 13, 2007|By KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO

Years collecting bumps, bruises, broken boards and road rash have taught one group of skateboarders where they're not wanted.

Just about everywhere.

A fledgling company called Sign Skateboards pays tribute to all the people who ever chased Garman Bowers III, 18, and his friends from their pursuit of fun. The company, which sells boards with Bowers' original designs, got off the ground with decks that say, "Thank you for skateboarding."

Bowers and friends Drew McMurtrie, 17, who is splitting his final year of high school between Boonsboro High School and Hagerstown Community College, and Phillip Howard, 21, an environmental science major at Shepherd University, showed off Sign Skateboards' look and their moves Thursday.

"I want it take over my life. I like everything else, but I love skateboarding," said Bowers, a music major who took this semester off from Shepherd University to focus on Sign Skateboards.

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A serious skateboarder for about four years, Bowers said he long has dreamed of putting out boards with a clean message at a price that young skateboarders can afford. Because the sport delivers a pounding, boards only last a few weeks, but they typically start at about $50.

Bowers, who orders boards through a company in California, said he's offering his wares for $35 each. The company does not yet have a Web site, so business has been mostly word of mouth. Bowers said two other designs, including a board with a repeating pattern of the company's logo, are coming out soon.

"What we're trying to start is just a really positive thing for the skating community itself," Bowers said.

Bowers and Drew said they came up with the design, "Thank you for skateboarding."

"As in the billions upon billions of 'no skateboarding' signs everywhere," said Bowers, who painted a picture of being treated as an urban pariah at some of the places where he and his friends have skateboarded.

Drew said the simple black-and-white "Thank you" design has grown on him.

"I originally said it was ugly, and now I kind of like it, or I kind of hate it a little less," said Drew, who first met Bowers skateboarding.

In the driveway of Bowers' mother's home near Lappans Crossroads, Bowers and his friends have built ramps, rails and jump boxes. They have a similar set-up at his father's house, too.

Bowers filmed video as his friends - more showed up throughout Thursday - slammed up the ramps, twisted in the air and practiced moves including ollies and airs.

"I just like the freedom of it. It's just like you can go out and express yourself, and no one tells you what to do," said Howard, a one-time surfer whose friends teased him for being a hipster.

Despite skateboarding's image as destructive and individualistic, Bowers and his friends said they think the sport is positive. They said kids who skateboard quickly become friends with other skateboarders, and they soon learn where they can and can't go.

Bowers said he's disappointed because he believes the pros, who often are connected to the companies that sell expensive boards and equipment, have forgotten what skateboarding is all about.

"It's a shame that people like (pro skateboarders) Bam (Margera) and Tony Hawk are making millions off skateboarding when that's not really the point. The point is to go out and have fun," Bowers said.

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