Paving the way for skaters



It was early last year when, during shop class, Clay Lawrence built a miniature skateboard park using leftover wood scraps.

A few months later, the avid skater designed the real thing.

Lawrence, 17, drew up the original plans of the soon-to-be completed skateboard area at Feeney Park in Murphys.

The Bret Harte Union High School junior was at the park Monday, standing on the recently poured, 6,000-square-foot slab of concrete. He set down his worn, battered board, balanced on top of it and, with a push of his foot, rolled across the paved area, occasionally springing upward to attempt a trick.

When he was done, he sat at a picnic table and eyed the budding skate park.

"It's nice that what was in my head will be right here, and we'll be able to ride on it," Lawrence said.

Lawrence said he's better on a snowboard. He's entered snowboard competitions at Bear Valley, Kirkwood and Lake Tahoe, and said he won two of his four competitions in the past year.

But he's no slouch on a skateboard, either.

He took up the sport when he was 5, when he lived with his parents at Lake Tahoe. His inspiration was "the thrill of watching guys that were really good."

Unfortunately, his talent could only grow so much because his skate park was his driveway.

That changed soon, though, when his family moved to Murphys.

Suddenly out of the Tahoe area and away from the bustling city life and large populations Lawrence gained more freedom to skate.

Through the years, he made friends at school people he could skate with. Historic downtown Murphys, with its many stairways, alleys and side streets, became their beloved skating ground.

Lawrence, however, said downtown Murphys is not a skateboard-friendly place.

The battle between skaters and shop owners is a constant one in many business districts where curbs, stairways, ramps and rails are abundant.

The Union Democrat
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