Words by Andra Mayberry
Photography by Layth Taylor
While skateboarding is mostly popular with the younger crowd, you might be surprised to see 30 and 40-somethings who’ve grown up skating now passing the torch to their children. The skatepark, built by the City of Granbury in 2014, was always talked about in certain circles, but was never quite popular enough politically to get official approval. Now that it’s been here for three years, kids with their families have become a permanent fixture, making the skatepark everything it was ever meant to be.
If you casually drive by the skatepark, located on Crossland Road near the soccer fields, you’ll see the name Keith Callahan etched into the structural sign. Callahan worked tirelessly for the City of Granbury in several capacities for 32 years and when he retired in 2014, it was the Parks and Recreation Board who unanimously insisted he be recognized somehow for his dedication.
In the mid-1990s, Callahan received a letter from a seventh grader who loved skateboarding and whose teacher encouraged him to write a formal request to the person in charge of the parks department. The letter outlined his love of skating and reasoned that a skate park would be just the thing to keep him and his friends busy and out of trouble. It was a great case for the cause and was very well written, but the funds just weren’t there.
Flash forward some 20 years later and the city had acquired land and amassed enough revenue for the parks board to actually propose construction of the skatepark to the council. Callahan, who was the Director of City Services at the time, was in charge of all parks projects and had the firm belief in building something made to last. He diligently researched other cities’ parks and learned that a permanent concrete structure was the way to go. SPA Skateparks of Austin was selected as the winning bid for the construction. The city held several town-hall meetings to establish what the park should look like, what features were desired and how the park would function as a whole. In the end, “three plaza lanes and a fully encapsulated bowl” were selected as skills to be included in the park, according to the SPA Skateparks entry about Granbury Skatepark.
Aesthetically, the park would feature xeriscaping, preservation of a nearby shade tree and the incorporation of Comanche Peak worked into the shape of the permanent design. The day of the ribbon cutting, Callahan was there with his family, city staff, the parks board and city council, alongside the student, now grown man who had written that letter so many years ago, J.W. Callahan, Keith Callahan’s son.
In the end, “three plaza lanes and a fully encapsulated bowl” were selected as skills to be included in the park, according to the SPA Skateparks entry about Granbury Skatepark.
Local skater parent Lynze Long says, “the family that skates together, stays together,” and that’s just what she intends to do. The 29-year-old mother of Zander, two, and wife of Jimmy, says it was one of the things that drew her to love her husband. She watched as he skateboarded with his buddies and he would take notice of her cruising by. It was love on the run! Jimmy continued skateboarding and Lynze continued watching. “I loved his hair. I loved his skateboard. That was just him so when we got together almost seven years ago now, he still loves skating,” Lynze adds. Jimmy was eventually sponsored by a small skateboard shop in Weatherford for regional competitions and did well, but life circumstances prevented his future in competing in the big time.
The two married on October 19, 2013 and started their life together in Granbury, in a small rent house just a block away from what is now the Granbury Skatepark. “We would walk the trails back there so we saw it being built and we were super excited about it. We were probably some of the first people down there. We absolutely loved it. We could literally walk or skate to it, so we would go down there on the weekends and he would try to teach me and he would do his stuff.”
Jimmy and Lynze began building their life together so that meant long work hours and going to school. While the two skaters were now more like grown ups, they still maintained their love of skateboarding. They would meet up with friends at the skatepark when they could, but life was about to get even more exciting.
Jimmy and Lynze always knew they wanted to have children so when Zander came along in August of 2014, their lives really began to ramp up. As he’s grown older, he has watched his parents both skateboard and has been to the skatepark several times. Lynze says he knows exactly what a skateboard is and was thrilled to receive his first skateboard from his Uncle Bobby. “He immediately knew what it was, stood up on it and pointed his fingers to the air because he was so excited about it,” Lynze says. “He’s been trying to skateboard since he could walk,” she adds.
Lynze had no qualms about bringing her young son to the skatepark and encourages families of all ages to give it a try. We can all agree that somehow there has been a stereotype attached to any young boy with baggy clothes, long hair and being on a skateboard. But Lynze says she has encountered nothing but polite and kind people every time she’s ever been to our skatepark. “We never heard any bad language. We never saw any drugs or anything like that. It was clean. The kids were nice,” she says. If you ask Lynze, there is a very open and welcoming vibe with the people who frequent the skatepark. She knows people will assume skaters are an exclusive group, but she explains, “I think skateboarders have their own little community. If you’re down there and you’re doing the same thing they are, they’re going to help you. When I was just starting out, they would offer me pointers.”
When you hear Lynze talk about Jimmy, her eyes light up. Since he has been skating for almost 20 years, he feels completely comfortable helping new skateboarders out. Lynze says, “I’ve met tons of amazing people like my husband who is now an amazing father who gets to pass down his knowledge and love of skateboarding to our son.” His love of the sport was one of the things that attracted her to him. She loves watching him instruct a beginner and is proud to see that side of him. When Lynze talks about how friendly and courteous the skateboarders are she says with pride, “Jimmy is the same way. If he sees a kid struggling, he stops what he’s doing and he will teach that kid how to skateboard.”
As for skateboarding and the Long family, they are in it for life. Lynze is a very active mother and enjoys doing all things with her son. Running, walking, jumping on the trampoline are just a few of the things the family tries to do on a daily basis at the end of the day. She encourages anyone who is on the fence about whether skateboarding is a worthy sport to just try it out. “It’s a different culture and once you get into it, it’s really fun and the people are great. It gets you outside. It keeps you athletic and healthy,” she says. If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss was about in that concrete bowl on Crossland Avenue, a new and welcoming world awaits you so give it a try!