Valley kids are conquering skateboarding under the direction of Mesa skate coach and former Mountain View High School student Matt Suncin.
As the owner of The Sk8 Coach, which he founded in May 2016, Suncin offers private and group lessons, as well as skatepark tours, where he introduces children to facilities around the Valley.
“It’s the best job I could ask for,” said the 23-year-old Suncin. “I go to work with a skateboard in my hand every day.”
He coaches an average of 30 children per week. They are kids of all backgrounds and ages, with some skaters as young as 2. He has helped kids with autism and expressed how rewarding it is to witness them try new things, overcome their fears and succeed.
Paige Heyn, 10, from Chandler, said that she likes skateboarding because it helps her try harder things without being scared.
Falling is a primary concern. Before skating, all parents must sign a liability waiver and students are required to wear helmets. Injuries, however, are unavoidable sometimes.
“I have made peace that, at some point, she’s going to hurt herself, but you know, kids hurt themselves all the time,” said Tanya Heyn, Paige’s mother.
Most kids, however, said they weren’t afraid of getting hurt.
“I really don’t care about my body; I just care about skateboarding,” replied 9-year-old Koston Eaton of Mesa.
Koston has 15,500 followers on his Instagram, where he posts his skating videos. His family owns Mesa’s Kids That Rip (KTR).
In November, Koston took first place in the Phoenix Skateboards Fall Jam competition for kids ages 9 to 12. Koston is the younger brother of competitive teenage skateboarders Jett and Jagger Eaton, who are making names for themselves nationally as skateboarders.
Suncin said that skateboarding teaches essential life lessons.
“It teaches perseverance. It teaches you the right mindset for accomplishing goals,” Suncin said.
Suncin was among the first group of skaters to attend KTR. He applied for a teaching job there when he was 15, after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. His family could not afford lessons, so he decided to show kids how to skate.
He is dedicated to helping children, as shown by his participation in the nonprofit Skate After School. Volunteers travel to schools with donated skateboard equipment to teach underserved youth of Phoenix.
“Just like any sport, there’s always a coach that helps the younger generations come up,” Suncin said.