Written By Niah Davis
Dani Harris, a Colorado native, has been roller skating practically since birth. Nowadays, the 27-year-old loves nothing more than to grab her skates and pull off some of her favorite tricks on her home ramp.
“I grew up skating, not at the park, but just with my parents outside of the house or to the grocery store and at the rink,” she says.
Harris’ parents were the first to introduce roller skating to her when she was young. They met in the sixth grade on the same speed skating team. As a child, Harris would go to the rink and watch them skate around, admiring their talent.
Although she skated from an early age, she never pursued anything more than practicing her craft with her parents or street skating around Denver to the grocery store. Harris carried this passion with her to adulthood.
“I would beg my friends to get a little beer and go to the local rink and just go around and have fun,” Harris said about her college years. “No one ever really cared to skate, it was just random, a random thing that I really liked to do at that point for many years.”
From her first day at the rink, she dreamt of owning her own ramp and began saving her money for the day she would be able to have one built in the comfort of her backyard.
“I wanted a place where I could safely skate. The Chattanooga skate park holds a special place in my heart, but there are a bunch of holes and it is not up to standard anymore…You can get really hurt and there are just so many people,” she says.
In March, Harris had a four feet high ramp built and delivered to her home. She describes it as the best purchase she has ever made, other than her dogs, of course.
“For me, I wanted a place where I could skate every day, on my own terms, and be safe there and comfortable and be able to get better and do things that I wanted to do and wake up at 6 am and go skate if I wanted to rather than driving all the way downtown,” she says.
Now Harris can host skate days with her friends anytime she wants.
“Being able to give that to my friends, a place that they can come and enjoy and just work on certain skills and grinds and be able to do it with repetition because at the skatepark, you have to take turns.” She continued. “Being here it’s more relaxed. You don’t have people or cute boys that you’re nervous about seeing you skate and fall, you know? So it’s like you can sit there and drill and relax and just enjoy each other’s company while also going hard at a sport that you love.”
Harris hopes to see the roller skating community continue to grow. It is a great way to get outside and spend time with a flourishing community of other skaters who enjoy the sport. She encourages anyone that is just beginning to not give up because it can pay off in the long run.
“It seems to be a cyclical sport where it’s gone up, it’s gone down, it’s become popular, it’s become not popular. And I’m happy to see that it’s kind of on that upswing just because I grew up with it,” she says. “17 years ago I was skating hard with my parents, but never thought anything of it. And now I’m 27 and I have a skate ramp in my backyard. I really like to see sports like this bring people together and people just get outside and become popular again.”
Written By Rachel Jordan
Whether he is shredding it at the Chattanooga Skate Park, hitting the streets in his speed skates or casually cruising around with his son Freddie, Joshua Goldberg is a local Chattanooga rollerblader whose inspiration stems from his expression, experience and confidence.
“It really is a belief. You really have to believe that you can do this because some of this is literally like magic,” Goldberg stated.
Goldberg took up hockey at the age of 8 where he was first introduced to rollerblading. Within the next few years, he began to participate in more aggressive skating. Later in life, he and his wife Alex took up skiing together, but he found himself yearning for a rush in the off-season.
In search of something to supplement that excitement, Goldberg purchased a pair of old-school K-2 rollerblades. As time passed and he spent more time on the rollerblades, Goldberg’s lifestyle morphed him into the avid rollerblader he is today.
While rollerblading and rollerskating have their similarities, their biggest difference according to Goldberg is their different mediums. Both rollerbladers and skaters are able to generate a lot of power in skating but rollerbladers are a lot more agile which in Goldberg’s opinion, allows you to have more expression in your tricks.
“I was really nervous,” Goldberg stated. “I shouldn’t have been but, you know, I had never done it before.”
In preparation for his beginner’s tournament, Goldberg had been practicing to land a backflip in his set. After lots of confidence-building practice, Goldberg was able to complete the trick and stick the landing, winning him the competition. Since then, Goldberg has made an effort to integrate his community into competitions. He wants to show them how helpful it is for their confidence and experience in the sport.
“You gotta get the experience to be there. Cause if you don’t, what are you gonna do, be really good at it one day and just show up and win? No,” Goldberg proclaimed.
Goldberg suffered a serious injury several years ago, tearing an ACL and a meniscus which put him out of the rollerblading game for about nine months and immobilized him for two of those. After his surgery, it took Goldberg three months before he was able to put his skates back on but, even then he was required to wear a brace for two years.
“I’m not 20 years old, I’m strong, I’m healthy, but I’m also a father and I’ve got to be careful,” Goldberg stated.
During his recovery, Goldberg hosted his own set of tournaments as a way of staying connected with the competitive community without actually being able to compete. Since 2018, Goldberg has hosted three competitions including one called “Gold Comp” back in San Jose, California where he lived for a period of time.
Meet the Storytellers
Seth Carpenter is a photojournalist and the photo editor of UT Chattanooga’s student-run newspaper, the University Echo. Seth has done stories on a nurse working through COVID-19, the life of a former prisoner, and much more. Seth hopes the stories they tell will make a difference in the lives of others. If you have a story that needs to be told, reach out to Seth at Sethcarpenter101@gmail.com.
Haley Bayer is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is currently majoring in Communication with a Women’s Gender and Sexuality minor. Haley is a storyteller with experience in social media, photography, audio, and design. In the future, Haley looks forward to working in Media Management. She is a hardworking and persevering individual who aspires to use her voice in Rising Rock to share moving stories. To contact her for work, email email@example.com
Niah Davis is a Communications major with a minor in Business Administration and works as a Feature Writer for College Fashionista. Davis is experienced in writing, content creation, and influencer marketing. In her free time, Niah hosts a podcast, creates content for Nars Cosmetics, and takes photographs. For questions or collaboration with Niah, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
McKenna Pegrim is an aspiring Photojournalist currently attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Communication. Pegrim has special interest in photography, journalism, and graphic design. Her passion for visual communication encourages her grow as a creative individual and cultivate a unified community here in Chattanooga. This devotion can be seen through her story of “Mama Yo’s Soul Food Kitchen Making Change One Meal at a Time”, written for the UTC Echo. This experience allowed her to connect with Yolanda Brown and share her story about dedication and hard work during the first year of Covid-19. Pegrim is currently gaining valuable experience as an Intern for The McCallie School, which has opened her eyes to the many possibilities ahead. For business inquiries or questions, you may contact McKenna Pegrim at email@example.com.
Rachel Jordan is a broadcast journalist with four years of broadcasting experience and is currently a junior Communications major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Rachel is a hardworking, dedicated individual who aspires to capture people’s interests through her words of storytelling. In her free time, Rachel enjoys listening to music, painting, and catching up on her favorite podcasts. For questions or collaboration with Rachel, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanna Kasuboski is a videographer and multi-media editor who is currently working on her BA in Communication Major. Her experiences include working in trying to find inventive ways for people to go on Conservation Trips with Nova Conservation Podcast and creative projects in film. What drives her in her passion is to help her community around her. To contact Joanna, email email@example.com.