Triton 5: Walker Ryan ’12

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Walker Ryan skateboards over water.
Credit: Dave Chami

01. What do you do? I’ve been a professional skateboarder since 2011. I guess you could say I produce marketing content—skating every day, getting coverage for sponsors and making videos. I also co-founded a skateboarding-based apparel/fitness company, Old Friends. Our products are used for strengthening and physical therapy, and soon we’ll have subscription-based injury rehab/prehab videos.

02. Why do you do it? I’ve always seen skating as an opportunity to challenge myself and express myself, and it has simply brought me the most joy of anything I’ve ever tried. I love that it’s all about creativity and pushing limits. In every trick, there’s a question of can I do this? And also, can this be done? Being professional adds a dimension of progressing the sport and adding to the culture as a whole—you add your creativity, your personality and of course your ability. You can also be a role model too, a positive influence for younger skaters who follow you.

03. What have you done? I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world through skateboarding, about 50 countries so far. It’s an amazing way to see the world, as there are always local skaters wherever we go and they’re always excited to take us around. It’s a unique cultural experience to share that instant connection with so many different kinds of people. It sounds corny, but you can really speak the same language through a shared love for skateboarding.

04. What did you learn here? I was skating at an amateur level through college and I knew a pro career had the opportunity for that kind of travel, so I deliberately chose sociology to learn about how the world works. For instance, what I learned about specific countries in my soc classes made me more eager to visit them after I graduated. To this day I still do research on every new country I’m headed to.

05. What have you learned since? How much I value writing, for one. When I’m traveling, I always try to capture and share those experiences. I’ve learned the complexities of running a business, not only from my own personal trials, but from the many brands I’ve worked with over the last 13 years. And in general, I’ve realized how much college has complemented my skating career. I’m on the board of a nonprofit that gives scholarships to skaters, so I hope that helps bridge the two worlds more. It’d be cool to see more universities invest in skateparks on campus, too. UCSD could start!