As we age, birthdays are not only a time for reflection, but a time to focus on what we want to accomplish in life. That happened in March 2015 to Ben Jaeger-Thomas as he entered a new decade, celebrating his 40th birthday.
That was when he decided to start skateboarding.
It may have seemed daring, but as an actor Jaeger-Thomas has constantly put himself out there and taken risks to further his career. So as a birthday present for himself, he went to a skate shop in Brooklyn, near where he lives, purchased a board and took up a sport he had always had an affinity for as a kid, but “I never thought I was cool enough to skate when I was younger… I was aware of the skateboarding culture, but I liked Dungeons & Dragons, wore glasses and had braces and played video games. I was kind of a class clown and fun guy, but I didn’t think I was cool enough to be a skater.”
Fast forward to today and Jaeger-Thomas balances the tightrope between cool and corny, something he recognizes. “To do a lot of things in life you have to push through the idea that this is going to look stupid or be looked at as an idiot or cliché,” he told us.
Setting and Accomplishing Goals
And so, Jaeger-Thomas set modest goals for himself that first year – to be comfortable on a board, using it not only as a mode of transportation, but to build up his confidence enough that he could land an ollie. “The first year I was on the board constantly,” he said. “I went to the grocery store, would push my son in a stroller with me behind him and would ride with my daughter to school as she was on a scooter and then go back home.”
Today, Jaeger-Thomas can land an ollie “pretty good,” in his words, and has also added a solid frontside 180 to his repertoire. And he is slowly working on mastering the shove-it, pop shove-it and backside 180.
Prior to his 41st birthday this March, Jaeger-Thomas started filming his exploits, putting them on his YouTube channel as a way to hold himself accountable as he continues to improve his skateboarding game. “I’m a process-oriented animal so doing these videos, I can see progress,” he said. “And I can see if I’m turning my shoulders properly or people will comment on my 180s that I need to keep my feet over the board… I’m getting lots of feedback and I can also watch other people’s videos and get tips for my own tricks.”
The videos were enough to draw the attention of TIME which recently featured Jaeger-Thomas’ newfound ambition
While he welcomed the exposure, Jaeger-Thomas said this is less about fame and more about combining exercise with the joy of skateboarding. “Being on a board, there is a freedom to the experience that is so gratifying,” he said. “You are learning and overcoming obstacles and falling down, and getting back up is part of the process.”
As part of that process, he is inspiring those of all ages – a 48-year-old mother of two recently told him she was working on her frontside 180 because of him – to get on a board and experience the thrill of skating.
If you want to feel that same thrill, we encourage you to check out our skate gear here which includes this loaded Dervish, ideal for a variety of riding styles, and this Riviera longboard, not only great for cruising, but ideal for perfecting ollies like our friend Jaeger-Thomas. To learn more about Ben Jaeger-Thomas and some of his non-skateboarding work, visit his website www.jaegerthomas.com