Skating the Old School Compound

SkatersThey go whizzing by in twos, threes, and fours. They’re chased from alleys, sidewalks, parking lots. If you own a business, they’re a “safety hazard.” If you have a nice handrail at your church, they’re “vandals.” They’re athletes at practice; hobbyists killing time; artists perfecting their art. They’re your children. They’re skaters.

Many have an opinion on skaters, and it often is a poor one. “They skate on public streets, their boards damage public property.” I’m old, so let me remind you of a time before skating. When we’d take a ball with electric tape, hit it with bat similarly attired, on a public street, or untamed lot. We’d break the occasional window. Damage the odd fence.

Usually, there wasn’t anywhere else we could play. If there was a park, we were run off for fear we’d hit a citizen. If there was a well-manicured field, we couldn’t play unless we could afford the dues. So, we’d sell enough candy to play, but only when the adults scheduled a game. We baseball players were the scourge of the neighborhood until the skaters came to town.

We forget how new is the sport of skating. Just this week Lakeland’s first indoor park opened. The owners are two skaters in their early-thirties. The guys are “old school” because the kids liken them to the pioneers of the sport. After all, they did start skating in the 1980s. That’s how Eric Grodzinski and Mike Wetherington came to name their business Old School Compound.

Both Grodzinski and Wetherington are from Brandon, but they chose to build their indoor park here because of the need. Lakeland is halfway between the parks of Tampa and Orlando and Polk County simply lacked an indoor park of its own.

Both started skating before they were teens, and have partnered building skate ramps and rails for seven years. They consider the indoor park a natural transition. Building a park wasn’t a whim. “It takes lots of know how, hard work, and a lot of money,” Wetherington said.

They’re confident their ramps and rails will be popular with local skaters. “We know from experience what people want.” Wetherington said as he and his partner watched video of skaters. Growing up street skating, they also understand the oft-spoken public opinion of skating. “They don’t look at is as a sport,” Grodzinski said.

Grodzinski added as an adult he now understands why people are concerned about the damage some skaters can cause. Nevertheless, the kids need to practice their sport. “We built this place so someone can have a good place to skate,” Wetherington added.

Though Old School Compound is primarily a skate park, next week the owners are opening BMX dirt bike ramps on their nearly two acres behind the building. There is still plenty of room for skaters with 14,000 square feet under the roof. Once the park is finished, Grodzinski and Wetherington believe 300 could easily skate and bike at any given time.

It seems word is out on the new park. They’ve been open only a few days, and already a skate team from Cocoa Beach drove over to check out Old School Compound. Without advertising, the park has still attracted a few regulars, from a 42 year-old to one skater’s three year-old following in his dad’s “wheels.”

Those new to skating can get lessons on Sundays from 9 am to 10 am. If you want to fall in front of the fewest onlookers, Wetherington suggests, “The first thing in the morning is quiet. With school back on it doesn’t get busy until after three.”

In addition to the ramps and rails, Old School Compound sells boards, trucks, wheels and some clothing. They plan to add their own line at some point, but currently feature the major brands.

Old School Compound SignOld School Compound, 841 N Combee Rd, is open Monday – Thursday 10 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 10 am to 11 pm, and Sunday 10 am to 9 pm. Everyone has to sign a waiver to skate, and if you’re under 18, bring a parent to sign.

Photos CC by Chuck Welch

32 thoughts on “Skating the Old School Compound

  1. Sorry, I screwed up a link and it didn’t show. I fixed it, and to make it more obvious:

    841 N Combee Rd
    Lakeland, FL 33801
    (863) 665-8963

    Thanks for catching that.

  2. Sorry, I screwed up a link and it didn’t show. I fixed it, and to make it more obvious:

    841 N Combee Rd
    Lakeland, FL 33801
    (863) 665-8963

    Thanks for catching that.

  3. It’s great they’ve opened this, Polk could definitely use more skate parks. I used to go to the one in Eagle Lake all the time when I was younger. Now I hope we can keep things like this going for when my son gets old enough.

  4. It’s great they’ve opened this, Polk could definitely use more skate parks. I used to go to the one in Eagle Lake all the time when I was younger. Now I hope we can keep things like this going for when my son gets old enough.

  5. We live right down the street from the compound. I have a son that’s 9 and he loves to board. Would this be an appropriate place for someone as young as him? I am also wondering if you could use a Rip-stik there? Also, what is the cost? Thanks alot!

  6. We live right down the street from the compound. I have a son that’s 9 and he loves to board. Would this be an appropriate place for someone as young as him? I am also wondering if you could use a Rip-stik there? Also, what is the cost? Thanks alot!

  7. Chuck, I visited the skatepark this past Saturday and it looks very promising. One thing to note, your times are wrong, they are open until 11pm on Fri & Sat, not 1pm.

    As far as the cost goes, a half day session (10-4 or 4-10) will run you $6, while a whole day goes for $10.

    I didn’t actually skate, but I’m going to try to this weekend.

  8. Chuck, I visited the skatepark this past Saturday and it looks very promising. One thing to note, your times are wrong, they are open until 11pm on Fri & Sat, not 1pm.

    As far as the cost goes, a half day session (10-4 or 4-10) will run you $6, while a whole day goes for $10.

    I didn’t actually skate, but I’m going to try to this weekend.

  9. Adam, thanks for the typo catch. Like the Ledger, we don’t have proofreaders. :)

    Please let us know what you think of skating the park. I would have tried it, but breaking my neck for a story isn’t in my contract.

    Not that I have a contract.

  10. Adam, thanks for the typo catch. Like the Ledger, we don’t have proofreaders. :)

    Please let us know what you think of skating the park. I would have tried it, but breaking my neck for a story isn’t in my contract.

    Not that I have a contract.

  11. I could have only wished for a park like this in Lakeland growing up!

  12. I could have only wished for a park like this in Lakeland growing up!

  13. Just wondering if they have a website yet?? Do they also do special events there on weekend nights?? How can I contact the owners besides phone number??

  14. Just wondering if they have a website yet?? Do they also do special events there on weekend nights?? How can I contact the owners besides phone number??

  15. To answer Jon’s question, only skateboards are allowed. There are dirt jumps for bmx. But sorry no roller blades, razors, or rip sticks. And if you tried to skate coping with a rip stick, you’ll end up with RIP on your headstone.

  16. To answer Jon’s question, only skateboards are allowed. There are dirt jumps for bmx. But sorry no roller blades, razors, or rip sticks. And if you tried to skate coping with a rip stick, you’ll end up with RIP on your headstone.

  17. Really nice to see a skate park in Lakeland for kids to skate at. Will be bringing my son there to skate. Stopped in and checked it out . They say a 6ft bowl is on the way !!!! now that would be great

  18. Really nice to see a skate park in Lakeland for kids to skate at. Will be bringing my son there to skate. Stopped in and checked it out . They say a 6ft bowl is on the way !!!! now that would be great

  19. Yes they have moved. They are now locate don East Main next to Lake Mirror. That is also located next to the police station, fire station, and the train/bus station.

  20. Yes they have moved. They are now locate don East Main next to Lake Mirror. That is also located next to the police station, fire station, and the train/bus station.

  21. lake mirror by police station under bridge that goes the way to lakeland high

  22. lake mirror by police station under bridge that goes the way to lakeland high

  23. These guys do not know how to run a skatepark, only skateboards!
    WTF there are so many kids who rides scooters, blades and ripsticks who are willing to pay like everyone else. This place is losing a shitload of money & will close down soon enough because these owners do not know how to run a business. This place is a poser skatepark would much rather go to the spot anyday.

  24. These guys do not know how to run a skatepark, only skateboards!
    WTF there are so many kids who rides scooters, blades and ripsticks who are willing to pay like everyone else. This place is losing a shitload of money & will close down soon enough because these owners do not know how to run a business. This place is a poser skatepark would much rather go to the spot anyday.

  25. No rollerblades, what kind of rubbish is that? What an insult to even put them on the list with scooters and ripsticks, blades aren’t toys that can be bought at Walmart like those last time I checked.

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