Jeromy Green was a little kid when his parents first took him to see the annual Clash at Clairemont skateboarding event.
Staged at the Krause Family YMCA Skatepark, Clash has always been San Diego's biggest single-day happening in action sports, featuring the likes of Tony Hawk in the early years.
Being there stoked Green's excitement for skating.
"When I first saw it, I thought the skatepark was built just for Clash," Green, now 21, recalled with a laugh this week of the massive ramps, pool, and X Games -style halfpipe at Clairemont.
Little did the Jamul native know that the park would become a second home to him, provide a job, and pave the way to a professional career.
"It's always been huge for me," said Green, who will compete among a bunch of action sports standouts on Saturday in the 11th Clash, which benefits Grind for Life, an organization that works to help people with cancer.
Among the skate and BMX stars of the past and present expected to be there are Bucky Lasek, Andy Macdonald, Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, Elliott Sloan, Simon Tabron and Dennis Enarson.
Green, who turned professional a year ago as a skater for Sacrifice skateboards, can hold his own against any of them on the vert ramp, in the pool and on the unique Skatercross track that was devised by Macdonald.
Many skaters choose a single discipline and work to excel at it. Thanks to his upbringing at Clairemont, Green can do it all.
"Jeromy is an alien on a skateboard," said Clairemont skatepark manager Charlie Payne. "He is unbelievably talented. In the events he competes in, whether he wins a medal or not, he does something worthy of a highlight reel. He's always, always, always in the limelight."
Said Macdonald, the winner of 23 X Games medals, "It's impressive, the angles that Jeromy can bend his knees at. He looks like he's made of rubber. And he's got his own style. Every aerial he does is tweaked out."
Green all but stole the show at last year's Clash. Skatercross was making its debut, and an early section of the course provided a high enough launch spot that a high jump competition, complete with a bar to clear, was set up.
Things got wild as the skaters kept going higher and higher, hurling themselves and their boards while sometimes suffering horrendous crashes on the landings.
So popular with the fans there, Macdonald said, "We had planned to do 15 minutes on the high jump. We ended up doing about 40."
As the crowd cheered, Green ended up battling jump-for-jump with X Games star Tom Schaar. Schaar ended up winning by clearing 11 feet, but it was Green who pulled off the greatest trick - a 360-degree spin - while going over 10 ½ feet.
"I live to soar through the air like that," Green said. "Everyone was out there cheering and pushing me to go higher than I've ever gone before. That was an amazing day."
After his first visit to Clash, Green and his parents got more involved at the skatepark. They helped out with other events, and Jeromy became a constant presence, skating their most days while attending High Tech High in Pt. Loma.
Clash at Clairemont
What: Skate and BMX event that benefits Grind for Life, an organization that supports people with cancer
Where: Krause Family YMCA Skatepark, 3401 Clairemont Drive, San Diego
Who: Bucky Lasek, Andy Macdonald, Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, Nora Vasconcellos, Jimmy Wilkins, Trey Wood, Beaver Fleming, Cory Juneau, Allysha Le, Elliot Sloan, Jordyn Barratt, Simon Tabron, Mykel Larrin, Dennis Enarson, Gary Young.
Donation request for entry: $10
Schedule for Aug. 12
10:30 a.m.: Gates Open
11 a.m.-noon: Pro BMX Park Demo
Noon-1 p.m.: Pro Vert Ramp Demo
1:15-3 p.m.: Skatercross Skateboard Racing and High Jump
3:30-4 p.m.: Street Best Trick Jam
4:30-6 p.m.: Pro Bowl Session
"A lot of the kids in skating can have a rebellious attitude, and they can be a little rough," Payne said. "Jeromy was different. He was always beaming, smiling, always nice and polite. He didn't have that air about him at all."
Said Macdonald, "Jeromy is one of my favorites. He's just an All-American kid."
Since he turned 18, Green has been working fulltime at the Clairemont park, and his a highly popular figure among the young skaters, while tending to his budding pro career.
Green has enjoyed quite a year. He made the finals of the Vert Attack in Sweden, won a Florida Series event at the famous Kona skatepark, and in July was invited to the cultural NASS Festival in Norway. He was enthralled to learn about the country, and there was a bonus - he found a girlfriend there.
For those who are not in the handful of people in skating's upper echelon, carving out a living in the sport remains difficult.
"I'm giving skating my all right now," Green said. "I'm not really being just an athlete. I'm seeing where it can take me with business avenues and things I can learn."
Payne contends Green should be more lauded in the skate world than he is.
"He definitely deserves to be getting paid something for what he does," Payne said. "Talent-wise, I'd compare him any great musician, or basketball or baseball player."
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