Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a three-part series.
ENCINITAS — Skateboarding, like most sports, has its own crop of coming of age stories. One local skater, Mitchie Brusco, 14, is making the transition from phenom, pint-size skater to full-blown athlete and competitor.
The evolution of the sport is mirrored in Brusco’s career thus far. Despite his amateur status, Brusco’s peers include the most well known figures in skateboarding.
Bucky Lasek, 39, started skating when he was 12. He turned pro in 1990 and has been a consistent presence on the winner’s platform at numerous competitions over the decades. Lasek, a local resident, has known Brusco since he was 7 years old.
“He’s a pleasure to be around and I enjoy watching him skate,” Lasek said.
The two often skate together during demos and competitions and practices. “He’s always learned tricks pretty quickly,” Lasek said. “He’s always been pretty consistent.”
Lasek has observed Brusco’s growth as both a skater and as a person over the years. “Now he’s going bigger and higher and skating with more power,” he said. “He’s one of the most gifted skaters; he’s got the natural charisma about him.”
His personality has helped him weather the barrage of attention over the last year. In December of last year, Tony Hawk chose Brusco to join a crew of big named skaters for an exhibition tour of Australia.
“He got out of his comfort zone and with that much of a crowd, I think it got him set up for what was to come,” Hawk said. “The next year he just blew up.”
The two met on the set of a Disney show when Brusco was just 8 years old. “I had heard his name before but hadn’t seen him skate,” Hawk said. “I’ve watched him progress and evolve at a rapid pace. He’s not just good for his age anymore, he’s just plain good.”
Brusco said the opportunity to travel and skate at such a high level was life-altering. “It’s amazing, there’s really no other way to explain it,” he said.
Both Hawk and Lasek understand what it’s like to hit growth spurts in longtime skateboarding careers and the potential pitfalls that come with exposure at an early age. However, both are confident that Brusco will succeed.
“He’s pure, wholesome and humble,” Lasek said in describing Brusco’s personality. “He’s such a good kid and he’s so talented.”
“So much has been offered to him at such an early age but he’s got a really solid foundation,” Hawk said. “He’s going to only get better and make a career for himself.”
Much of Brusco’s foundation is rooted in his strong familial support. “He’s got nice parents who have raised him properly,” Lasek said.
Brusco thrives on the new experiences skateboarding brings that he shares with his family. “The biggest change is the places I’m going,” he said. “The amount of travel we have now with my mom and the family.”
Brusco and his mother, Jen, recently traveled to Brazil for a whirlwind skateboarding odyssey. “ I enjoyed the food and scenery but mostly the people,” he said. “They’re so passionate.”
No matter what trick Brusco performed the crowd cheered. “It’s cool when all of those people are yelling for you and supporting you,” he said.
Brusco recently surpassed a milestone set by Hawk as he landed the 900-one of only six people to do so.
“It’s not really a surprise that he did it,” Hawk said. “But I think the shocking part is the sense of ease he had it when he did it. Anyone else that’s done it, it was a monumental event, but it was more of an afterthought to him.”
“He’s the real deal. He’s focused and he knows what he wants; he reaches his goals and then some,” Lasek said.
Brusco has no plans to relax into his current level of success. “I just want to keep skating. I don’t ever want to stop for as long as I possibly can,” he said.
As for future plans beyond skating Brusco is ambivalent. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said.