Derry skateboarder becomes first Irish man to turn professional

Derry skateboarder Joe Hill has turned pro
Derry skateboarder Joe Hill has turned pro

Local skateboarder Joe Hill has signed with German company VIA Skateboards – making him the first Irish skater to gain pro status internationally.

Joe’s been skating for over 10 years and in that time he has been sponsored by different companies throughout Ireland before getting noticed by VIA, which is run by Cork native – Christopher Krosch.

Joe is back in Derry this month, returning from Barcelona where he has been recently residing, to introduce local skaters to VIA.

We caught up with Joe at his premiere night in Rosy’s Skatepark, which was also designed by Joe, to hear a bit about his journey to turning pro.

“I’m skating now about 11 or 12 years since my first year at schoo. Someone had a skateboard with them, I just tried it out and loved it then, and I’m not going to stop.”

On the night of his premiere local skateboarders of all ages crammed into Rosy’s to get a glimpse of the newly turned pro.

There were jam sessions and spot prizes for youngsters, followed by the much-anticipated intro to VIA Skateboards, with Joe stealing the show.

“It’s been a long road to becoming pro, I’ve been sponsored for ten years, on and off, by different companies over Ireland,” Joe added.

“Then after a few years I got noticed by a European company (VIA) and I was two, three years on that, then they turned me pro.”

Joe explained the tough route he had to take and the problems he had to overcome – which included lots of injuries.

“You can’t be a skateboarder without having injuries. I’ve had a couple of big injuries and a couple of small ones.

“I hurt my ankle a lot and I’ve had ankle troubles for the last two years, I keep injuring the same ankle and I’ve had physiotherapy for six months.

“Apart from that I broke my tailbone four times. It’s hard work but it pays off if you get it right – you land a trick and it’s all good again.”

Next up for Joe is a return to ‘the capital of skateboarding’ to build up his portfolio, along with a trip to Berlin in July.

“I’ve just been living in Barcelona for a couple of months and that’s mainly the capital of skateboarding in Europe.

“So I’ll just do that for the next couple of months, maybe work a bit more, just try and keep skating and maybe go to a few events and competitions.

“I have to go back to Berlin for a trade show in July and try to get my name out there a bit more and do all the competitions that I can, keep filming and keep going, just see what happens next.”

Before we left Joe had a few words of advice for any local skaters out there looking to follow in his footsteps.

“Keep skating, keep trying, you don’t have to be sponsored, it’s not about being pro or getting free stuff, although it does help.

“Just keep skating, keep making videos, if you’re someone who can skate you’re going to go far, just have a good attitude.”

There was one last chance to see Joe skate last Friday at Rosy’s, before he continues his journey overseas.

The ‘Road to Rosys’ brought the final leg of an Irish skateboarding tour to Derry, and also Dublin and Belfast.

It was also the official launch night of Rosy’s Skatepark – which is situated in Pennyburn Industrial, Derry.

More information is available through Rosy’s on Facebook or by calling 02871271613.

Otherwise check out VIA skateboards website at www.via-skateboards.com