Long before kids could learn how to do an ollie or a kickflip from YouTube, old school East Dallas skaters Tracy Weller and Jimmy Coleman were tearing up the Dallas skate parks, and they haven’t quit yet.
“In our era you had to go down to the skate shop and buy some crappy VHS tape of a contest, and you’d wear that thing out in your parents’ VCR,” Coleman says.
“There’s a lot of technical stuff going on now,” Weller explains. “I don’t do a lot of flippy tricks.”
If they sound like old men griping about “kids these days,” it’s because, well, they kind of are. It’s appropriate that they’re both members of the DFW Old Man Skate Cartel, which is a meet-up group they claim is little more than “a Facebook page for selling T-shirts,” although we suspect it’s a little more than that because it’s nearly impossible to find information about the group online, and as a general rule, anything worth keeping a secret is worth knowing about.
To their credit, they’re incredibly badass for “old men.” They’re in tip-top physical shape, reflective of their active lifestyles, and covered in tattoos. Although neither went pro, they’ve been rubbing elbows with Dallas’ hottest rippers — such as Jeff Phillips (before he died in 1993), Craig Johnson and Dan Wilkes — for decades.
“There was a group of guys who were really good,” Coleman says. “They would all travel around and do contests. At the time, Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi were winning a lot of the contests, and Jeff [Phillips] was this force that could go out there and he could beat those guys.”
“With a different style of skateboarding,” Wellers adds, “because a lot of those guys were coming with more technical and tricky things.”
“Jeff was just pure power and style,” Coleman says. “Everything for him looked effortless. He’d come down and you could feel the whole ramp moving.”
Both men moved to Dallas in the late-1980s. When Weller first moved to Dallas from England, he remembers primarily skating on backyard mini-ramps and hanging out at a couple of skate parks in the area before the giant Jeff Phillips Skatepark opened in Northeast Dallas, which was the biggest skate park in the world at the time.
Most people who wanted to go pro back then moved to California, but Texas had it’s own scene. It wasn’t flashy, but it held its own, Coleman remembers.
“That’s why I came here, because of that,” Coleman explains. “People down here were known for their aggressive style of skating. It was a good, fun group of guys, so we were like, ‘Hey, we don’t have to move to California.’ ”
A lot has changed over the years, but one thing hasn’t: the community. Both men first got into skating because the culture gave them a place to belong as awkward, aimless teenagers, and although they joke about the non-importance of the Old Man Skate Cartel, they admit it gives them a way to stay connected with the tight-knit community.
“Someone will post where they’re going to be when,” Weller says. “Stuff like that.”
“We mostly just make fun of each other and post cat memes,” Coleman quips.
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