Chairman of the board

Pro skateboarder Mike McDermott talks about returning to Winnipeg to start a skate shop

An apple a day… Skateboarding pro Mike McDermott displays one of the skateboards Habitat International has manufactured just for his Corydon Avenue skate shop. Clayton Winter

To people unfamiliar with the sport, having a company put your name on a skateboard may not seem special. In reality, it’s a big deal.

“When you get your name on a board, it’s like they might as well have built a statue for you,” said Winnipeg-based skateboarding pro Mike McDermott. “I felt honoured – it was a dream come true.”

In September 2008, the 29-year-old went pro through Habitat International, an Ohio-based skateboard manufacturer.

Four months prior, McDermott returned to Winnipeg from Vancouver with his friend and fellow skateboarder Ryan McGuigan, where the two had been living since 2001.

This past May, McDermott and McGuigan opened Green Apple, a skateboard shop on Corydon Avenue that sells skateboards and related apparel.

The Green Apple name comes from a series of locally shot skateboarding videos first released in the early ‘90s by skateboarder Roan Barrion. After having some parts in the videos, McDermott began getting sponsored by companies like Circa.

“I remember telling my dad one day while he was driving me to piano lessons when I was 15,” McDermott said. “He asked me what I wanted to be when I was older and I told him I was going to be a professional skateboarder.”

At the end of 2001, McDermott moved to the West Coast with McGuigan, who by then had taken over production of the Green Apple skate videos.

I’ve always been cocky in the way I do things.

Mike McDermott, pro skateboarder

“My goal was to go to Vancouver and live off of skateboarding. A lot of times, my friend Jason Crolly would come out and visit [and] we would all live off his empties. Whoever got up the next morning took them in, like scavengers.”

Working with Supra Distribution, a major skateboarding products distributor, gave McDermott the time to make trips across North America and Europe to skate.   

“It took me six years to get my name on a board. That was my focus – I wanted to do that.”

He is quick to credit McGuigan with helping him get to where he is today. It was because of the Green Apple skate videos that McGuigan filmed and distributed around the world that McDermott was able to get sponsorships.

Now, almost 20 years after receiving his first skateboard as a hand-me-down from his brother, McDermott sees opening Green Apple as the next logical step in his career.

“I’ve always been cocky in the way I do things,” McDermott said. “One important saying, and everyone should live by this, [is]: Man has no problems achieving his goals. He only has a problem establishing them.”

When asked what it takes to go pro, McDermott answers the way any true skateboarder would:

“If you go in with a purpose and be like, I’m going to fucking do it, then you’re going to do it.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 17, 2009)

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