Trumbull mom helps teach the next generation of skateboarders

Photo of Amanda Cuda

TRUMBULL — Skateboarding has been part of Jessica Eaton’s life for more than 25 years. The 41-year-old Trumbull resident said her husband, Mike, whom she’s been with since she was 14 years old, is a huge part of the reason why.

“He was a skater,” Eaton said. “All our friends were skaters.”

Though it can be difficult to master for some, Eaton said, skateboarding is, in many ways, an ideal sport.

“It’s something you can practice and do on your own, and don’t have to rely on a team,” Eaton said. “It’s a very good mental release as well.”

It’s a sport that she wanted to pass on to her son Cade and daughter Liv, now 13 and 11, respectively. But when she tried to enroll her son in a skating camp or program a few years ago, she couldn’t find one.

Eaton said she ended up connecting with a national company to find lessons for her son, but wished there was something more convenient and local.

That’s how she ended up creating Next Generation Skateboarding, a company that connects people who want to learn skateboarding with instructors and lessons. She started the business in February, creating a network of instructors largely through contacting people she knew, and using a few guerrilla tactics.

“I’ve gone up to people at skate parks that I’ve watched skate and said ‘Have you ever considered being an instructor?’ ” Eaton said, adding that she’s found a few instructors that way.

She said she has a few goals for the business, but a major one is to help bring skateboarding to a wider audience. Eaton pointed out that the sport recently became an Olympic event, debuting at last year’s games in Tokyo, and believes interest in the sport will only grow moving forward.

“Skating is making its way into a bigger scene,” she said. “If we can be pioneers of getting it going (that would be good). It has been an amazing thing.”

Eaton also has some deeply personal reasons for wanting to help create something positive and enriching for others. Roughly six years ago, she had a miscarriage that “threw my body into a tornado,” causing a variety of health problems, including Celiac disease, a chronic digestive and immune disorder triggered by eating foods including gluten.

Her medical problems “really made me feel like I wasn’t myself anymore,” Eaton said.

Worse, she felt like she couldn’t be there for her children.

“I got to the point where I thought ‘They don’t know me. They just know their sick mom,’” she said.

But this project is a way for her to show her children who she is, and to do something for others, she said.

“I wanted to something to make my family proud,” Eaton said.

So far, she said, things are going fairly well.

“I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about it,” Eaton said. “It’s turning out to be a super fun, positive thing.”

Because Trumbull doesn’t have a skate park, Eaton’s instructors give lessons at parks throughout the region. That includes Scantlebury Skate Park in New Haven, built by David Peterson, owner of Rampage Skatepark Equipment and a longtime friend of Eaton’s.

Eaton said Peterson, whose business has been designing, engineering, constructing, and installing skatepark equipment since 1995, has been a huge help getting Next Generation off the ground.

Peterson, who lives in Stratford but grew up in Trumbull, said he connected Eaton with some instructors and has helped her promote the business.

Like Eaton, Peterson said skateboarding is definitely having its moment in the mainstream.

“Back in the 90s, it was a more taboo thing,” he said. But now, Peterson said, it has gained respectability as a sport, as evidenced by it becoming an Olympic event.

“There’s definitely a demand for this,” he said.

For more information on Next Generation Skateboarding, visit https://skate-lessons.com/ .