Student Athlete of the Week
View Park Prep’s Joshua Willard
By Jason Lewis | 6/26/2014, midnight
Joshua Willard is creating a name for himself in the sport of skateboarding, and he is only 11 years old. He is following in the footsteps of Nyjah Huston, who made his first X Games appearance at that same age. Willard, like Huston, can be considered a child prodigy because his skills are so great for somebody so young.
Joshua competes with the California Amateur Skateboard League, and he has been racking up first-places titles over the past year. He is becoming well known in Southern California, and he is gaining a following through social media.
Joshua began skateboarding when he was four years old. His older brother and sister were into the action sport, so he joined in. His father, Jess Willard, built them a small ramp so that they could practice. As time went on, his older siblings moved on to other interests, but Joshua continued with the sport.
The young Willard spends most of his days at the skate park at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex. When he is not there, he rides the Metro Rail Expo Line with his friends to Venice Beach, where there is a skate park. But he likes to stay close to home.
“I like to practice here (at Rancho Park) because I know more people,” Joshua said.
While hanging out with his friends at the skate park, Joshua has perfected his best tricks, which are the hard flip and kick flip. He practices on a daily basis, which could lead him to his goals much sooner than later.
“I want to go to competitions like the X Games and Street League, and I want to be a professional skateboarder,” Joshua said.
For his father, who has coached football for years, this is something completely new. Jess has worked at Crenshaw High School for the past 17 years, and he has been on the football team’s coaching staff for many of them. His oldest son is currently on the team. Even though he does not have any experience with skateboarding, he encourages his son as much as he can.
“I have to support him and let him do what he does,” Jess said.
Jess sees the determination in his son to succeed at the highest level.
“He skates all the time,” Jess said. “All day. He’ll skate here with his skating buddies. Right before it gets dark, he’ll come back and go in the backyard and skate. He always practices.”
Joshua’s only other hobby is studying, which has led him to a 3.7 grade point average at View Park Preparatory School. He completes all assignments, and he studies hard for exams, which allows him to obtain mostly A’s on his report card. His favorite subject is history.
“I like history because you get to learn about what people did before you,” Joshua said.
College is off in the distance, but with his grades and abilities, Joshua could be well into his professional skateboarding career while earning a college degree.