by Pat Kennedy & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & M & lt;/span & ainstream sports have it easy. Most kids have a football, basketball or baseball in their hands from the get-go. If you have the dream to play the game, the path is there: Start in high school, get a scholarship, continue on to college and go pro. It's not that mainstream sports are easy, but the path is predetermined: There will be people to coach you along the way.
Alternative action sports, being relatively new, lack that kind of structure. The last 30 years, however, have seen some unlikely sports survive and grow, largely due to the passion of individuals obsessed with them. Now the pioneers of these sports are getting older and are seeing the dream carried on at both the local and national levels.
They're putting together events like this weekend's Fourth Street XPO and pulling attendance of 5,000 people. The guys behind Project 06 have to be doing something cool. Imagine a free street event that has two 50-foot-by-16-foot pools connected by a slider rail, skate park, 50cc big air course, food court, live music, beer garden and pro athlete exhibitions. Quite the spectacle, even if you're not a board sport enthusiast.
Project 06 is a series of events with the same overall theme: bringing community awareness to action sports through grassroots events. Jeremy Deming, Rick Knott and Matt Robinson are the driving force behind Project 06. All three have backgrounds in board sports such as skate-, snow- and wakeboarding. When asked why they do the events, they answered almost in unison: "To teach and pass on the knowledge through kick-ass events."
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he concept for Project 06 was hatched after last year's Dukes of Hauser competition that had great attendance. Deming, Knott and Robinson approach the events personally and have considerable time vested into people having a good experience and walking away with an awareness of a local scene.
After chasing the wakeboarding lifestyle since 1997, the three partners have managed to integrate the sports they love into their adult lives. Knott is a mechanical engineer, wakeboard instructor, professional wakeboarder for Krown Wakeboards and the only one in the trio still competing nationally. Based on his years of travel and experience, he believes Project 06 is the only production company putting together a quality event series in the area.
Deming was one of the founding partners of Krown Wakeboards, founder of Imagination Graphics and a wakeboard instructor. And Robinson represents the business side of Imagination Graphics as the account executive. Deming and Robinson also have a team of wakeboarders, skateboarders and BMX riders they sponsor under iMgXsport.com. Kids interested in competing and living the lifestyle of wake, skate and BMX need sponsors if they plan on chasing a career competing. After all, nothing sells a wakeboard better than local riders boosting smooth 12-foot airs out on the lake.
Sponsors in the alternative sports world are the equivalent of scholarships in mainstream sports. Without an active contest scene, sponsors have no way of identifying the local talent. Project 06 provides an avenue for aspiring alternative athletes to get exposure with the events.
And getting national sponsors like Krown, Ten-80 and Nautiques to trust you isn't easy: They need to see the right combination of experience, talent and attitude. With nine years of experience in the wakeboard industry, Deming, Knott and Robinson have attracted local and national sponsors. When asked about local sponsors, Robinson comments that, "We've had over $10,000 in materials donated from local business like Silverstone, Hank Hestor and Timbercreek. On top of that, it seems like the whole town is supporting us, from the city officials to the fire department. We couldn't be doing this without their support."
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ports like wakeboarding are limited to certain geographic regions. North Idaho is a hot spot for wakeboarding and can support the industry with so many lakes in the area. Local communities are helping the momentum by supporting the contests and events, which are scheduled from Sandpoint to Lewiston.
Catching some of the action Project 06 is unleashing on the area shouldn't be too hard. Their event schedule is packed through August, and all of the events are free to the public. The 4th ST XPO is a great chance to see multiple sports in a street jam format, and it all happens Saturday in the parking lot and street at the Coeur d'Alene HQ, at Fourth Street and Linden. Starting at 11 am, they'll transform the place, with dirt for BMX tricks, pools for wakeboarding a skateboarding park and, of course, a sound stage with 10 bands scheduled to play. The Pyramid Skate Shop will be on hand with special deals, too.
They also do private lessons, corporate events (wakeboarding with the boss!) and every other Wednesday, kids can sign up for the Hayden Lake wakeboard clinics. The next one is on July 5 and costs $45 per session.
The prize purse at their Top Gun event on Aug. 5 at the Willow Bay Resort on Pend Oreille is up to $5,000, insuring a strong competition among professional riders. And they'll be doing the Dukes of Hauser again, too, this year on July 22.
For more info and a list of Project 06 events, visit www.xpossessions.com or www.imxsport.com.