Brian Ball - Wilde Ambassador Q&A
My name is Brian Ball and, like most mornings, I had a banana and blueberry smoothie for breakfast this morning. I’m a crazy cat guy, love drawing, and enjoy international travel with my wife.
I own Square State Skate which operates skateboard programs along the Front Range in Colorado. We do more than just teach skateboarding… we use skateboards as a learning tool for larger life skills, community involvement, and social-emotional learning.
I was born in Okinawa, Japan (on a US military base) and grew up in a Navy family moving around every couple years. I lived everywhere from Hawaii and the Philippines to California to Southern Maryland. With that, I never really felt connected to any particular place and never experienced a sense of community. That changed when I found skateboarding and became connected with something. Since then, skating has defined who I am and has been the only real constant in my life… that and my wife, of course.
Q: If you had to choose 3 life essentials, what would they be?
A: Water, pizza, skateboard, my cats, paper & pencil, chocolate, a clean pair of socks, and my life companion (my wife). How many is that?
Q: How did you get started with skateboarding?
A: Like many people my age, I had to have a skateboard after seeing Back to the Future. My friends and I just tooled around the neighborhood a little bit, but I really fell in love with skating when I moved to the Philippines in summer 1986. My skateboard helped me make friends and I discovered that there was a community and culture opening up to me. For the first time I felt like I was part of something… something that celebrated my personality and individuality - not just an ability to throw or kick a ball.
Q: What is it you love about skateboarding? What keeps you coming back to it everyday?
A: When I went back to school a couple years ago, I conducted an independent study (that ultimately became my honors thesis) focusing on the social-emotional benefits of skateboarding, particularly in children with emotional special needs. Seeing those benefits - watching kids make those important connections that I struggled to make growing up - keeps me stoked. And seeing our incredible staff make and reinforce those connections every day is inspiring and motivating.
On a base level, I really love fighting for a trick and putting myself through that battle. I enjoy falling (what others would see as “failing”), problem solving, trying again, falling again, icing my wound, finding motivation, trying new strategies and (hopefully) reaching the goal in the end. Or at least getting closer to the goal.
Q: What keeps you hungry? What drives you to keep trying to up your game?
A: I’m incredibly vain. I’m still trying to find and stake a claim to my own little corner of this community. I’m not too far from turning 50, so I’ve got five specific tricks I intend to land before my big birthday. 5 by 50!
Q: What was the most challenging moment in your career?
A: I had a devastating knee injury that has changed my life. I initially tore my meniscus almost 20 years ago, but with no medical insurance I just let it go. It tore again 8 years ago and locked my knee up necessitating a meniscectomy. Several surgeries later I’m bone on bone with spurs, advanced arthritis, and limited mobility. After my “5 by 50” I’ll probably get my knee replacement.
Q: What is your favorite/most fulfilling moment you had in your career?
A: There have been so many favorite moments and the high water marks keep getting higher. I’m incredibly grateful to a community that keeps supporting all that we do, from skate lessons to our mobile skate camps, to our new Learning Cube (where we support online learning). And the community keeps coming back. Watching kids grow over the years is really rewarding and then watching some of them become junior counselors and then advance into staff members is probably the most fulfilling thing. At this point, we have seven staff members that were once campers, with several more coming up soon. Watching that emotional investment payout is the best.
Q: What is your biggest dream that you have yet to accomplish?
A: Learn every language. Or just usable Spanish.
Q: How has your diet changed, if at all, as you’ve progressed through your career?
A: I used to be an amateur competitive eating champion. 22 pieces of pizza. I was really good at snacking, too… on anything you put in front of me. After my injury, I went gluten free (mostly for inflammation) and overhauled my diet. Cut out most processed foods and cut down on sugar. I’m not only more focused on what I eat, but also why I eat.
Q: How does Wilde fit into your training program/nutrition program?
A: I love them as a snack since they’re filling and nutritious, not just something to munch on or just empty calories.
Q: Why Wilde Chips as opposed to other chip brands?
A: Well, they taste better. If Wilde Chips didn’t taste good, that would be a non-starter. Additionally, they are purposeful, not just filling. I also love the “experimentation” with flavors. I liken it to the way I skate… trying new things and not sticking to definitions or expectations.
Q: How did you first hear about Wilde Chips? What did you think about them before and after you tried them?
A: I was told that some of our lesson participants' parents, Eugene, dropped off a box for our staff and kids to try. I ate a bag of the Nashville Hot and loved them right away. I didn’t realize until afterwards that they were actually chicken - not just potato chips sprinkled with chicken flavor.
Q: At Wilde, our mantra is ‘Be Bold. Live Wilde-ly”. What does live Wilde-ly mean to you?
It means don’t let others define who you are or dictate what you can do. Think - and ACT - outside the box.