“YOU’VE GOT TO SEE IDAHO,” JOHNNY AND KORI SCHILLEREFF’S GOOD FRIEND AMY PURDY KEPT SAYING. “IT’S GORGEOUS.”
The International skateboard Element founder and his wife heard the merits of the strong, nature-loving, sports-mad community again while attending Purdy’s Boise wedding. Yet the wheelfriendly town was about to show them even more.
Post wedding, Kori relaxed in the hotel room while Johnny grabbed one of Modern Hotel’s courtesy beach cruisers and set out to see the city. He enjoyed the beauty and chill vibe, until one too many one-way streets got him lost.
The setting sun hid the normally helpful landmarks of the mountains, river, and Boise State University. Schillereff paused, trying to determine which direction to take under the darkening sky, just as he was discovered by bicycle patrol officer Blake Slater.
Noticing the hotel bicycle and its rider’s hesitation, Officer Slater, who’d always considered his position to include being an ambassador for the city, asked Schillereff if he needed assistance.
“There’s a light law here,” Slater added in a joking tone as he handed out loaner lights.
Schillereff simply wanted advice on how to get back to the Modern, but was given a lifechanging bonus tour.
“I was actually only about a block from the hotel,” he recalled, “But when Officer Blake learned I was a skater, he asked if I’d heard of the skate park Boise was building, and offered to show it to me.
He had no idea of my Element connection.”
“It’s pretty far away,” Officer Blake told Schillereff, acting as if there was an arduous journey ahead.
“He literally coasted over to Rhodes Skate Park,” Schillereff laughed, “we were that close.”
Originally built in the mid1990s by Ada County Commissioner Glenn Rhodes, the park was undergoing a makeover. Dirt and the beginnings of poured cement were at the park situated under a large bridge, but a blueprint banner was on display.
THE PLANS LOOKED LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A VIDEO GAME.
“Wow,” Schillereff commented to Officer Blake, “this is insane.”
At the hotel, Schillereff and his wife immediately went online for more information. Boise’s treethemed celebration of nature and the arts, added to the cooperative, grass-roots campaign for the skate park’s expansion and remodel, seemed like a perfect fit for Element’s involvement.
The couple also learned how core local skate shops Boardroom and Prestige had supported Boise skateboarders, of the early $10,000 Tony Hawk Foundation contribution, about the Boise Skate Association’s birth in 2010 and its endeavors to capture Mayor David Bieter’s ear (who replied, “Let’s do this thing!”) and that of the Boise city council. They learned of the coordination with Boise Parks and Recreation, and the relentless, nearly decade-long fundraising efforts through local skateboarders’ selling hot chocolate and special Boise-specific decks, among many other things. The result was a balance of around $40,000, but that wasn’t enough.
In 2014, several years into the project, Jamie Scott, president of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, gave the park a huge boost in the form of $1.25 million. Understanding how vital skateboarding was to the community, the Foundation pushed it all through.
“AS SOON AS THEY GOT ON BOARD, THAT WAS IT,” SAID LORI WRIGHT AND JOSH DAVIS OF THE BOISE SKATEBOARD ASSOCIATION. “THEY LET US TAKE THE REINS, BUILD US A GREAT SKATE PARK’, THEY SAID.”
The private funding allowed the selection of contractor Grindline, with the skating background and flexibility to make adjustments as construction went along, taking into account input from local skaters.
“It was one of those things that’s too good to be true,” said Schillereff. “The city itself is all about everything Element and my personal life embody. And when a space right next to the park was available, where the building’s owner understood skating, it all started shaping itself.”
When Schillereff spoke with Element staff at California headquarters, there was zero resistance.
“Our organization is very nimble,” Schillereff shared, “so we created a community center in Boise where skaters can congregate, a getaway retreat that mirrors our brand and what it’s really all about—the family values, the skateboarding culture, everybody’s happy.”
In the interim, the Schillereffs purchased a home in Boise.
Using a local builder and recycled and reclaimed materials, the Element 304 Americana community center exists to nurture and support the Boise skateboarding community, with a specific goal to empower youth toward reaching their full potential.
The building’s shop at the entrance provides a small selection of Element merchandise, as well as merchandise from local Prestige and Boardroom shops, and has a strategic policy of directing people to local shops for further sales and service.
Early August saw thousands attending the dual grand opening of Rhodes Skate Park and Element’s 304 Americana shop, the Boise skating community’s dream come true. Johnny Schillereff deemed Rhodes “one of the best skate parks in the world.”
Element Brand hosted their largest-ever demo by its team of professional skateboarders including Nyjah Huston, Brandon Westgate, Nick Garcia, Greyson Fletcher, Chad Tim Tim, Mason Silva, Mark Appleyard, Julian Davidson, Tom Schaar, Chris Colbourn, Dominick Walker and Jacopo Carozzi, who were also joined by the Blood Wizard team and others. There was also an autograph signing, and a skate jam for locals.
After a session in the new park, one skater commented, “Having Element here just adds to the legit-ness.”