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Exploring Life & Business with Matt Suncin of The Sk8 Coach Skateboarding School

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Suncin. 

Hi Matt, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I found skateboarding at the age of nine and was instantly hooked to the feeling of being on a board and the freedom I felt from doing something that was individualistic and without rules or boundaries. Growing up in Mesa, Arizona, I didn’t have access to skateparks to learn and develop my craft at, so myself along with our little neighborhood crew would take to the streets to find spots to skate. Fortunately for us, after three years of braving the blistering hot asphalt of Arizona, word broke of an indoor skatepark that had popped up inside a gymnasium approximately one mile from my house. Naturally, I persisted in asking my parents to sign me up for their program, and after some negotiations on chores and grades, it was a done deal. For three years, I was a student in the program and developed my skills to the highest level they offered. Then in fall of 2009, my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer and would have to undergo treatments for chemo, radiation, and have surgery. So, to relieve some of the strain put on my mom and the family, I decided to quit the program and apply for a job there as a skate instructor. They kindly obliged to my request and in summer of 2010, I landed my first job as a skateboarding instructor. Becoming a teacher really helped me hone my skills, and at the same time, I learned how rewarding it felt to give back to the youth. Similar to how I rose through the ranks as a student, I did the same as a coach- going from helping out the beginners all the way to teaching the best students in the program. Seeing the progression and stoke from some of my students and knowing I was a big part in their success was something that I felt proud of and wanted to share more with others, so in 2016, I created The Sk8 Coach as an Instagram page to highlight some of the awesome talent of my students and to promote my expertise as a skateboarding coach. After gradually building up a following on social media, I developed a website under www.thesk8coach.com, where customers could learn about me and book private skate lessons. At that point, I decided to try and make being a professional skateboarding coach an actual career, so my first goal was to try to stack my resume with as much experience as possible. After working for the first skate program in Mesa for eight years, one day, I randomly got a job offer to work at a new facility out of Vista, California. Being that SoCal is the skateboarding mecca of the world, this was a big opportunity for me to make a name in the space. I worked there for a little under a year before deciding to split ways to pursue my own program as The Sk8 Coach full-time. Then in summer of 2019, I received another job offer, this time as a coach for the Chinese Olympic Skateboarding team. I would end up moving to China until the end of the year and working with their team in preparation for the 2020 Olympic debut of skateboarding. As fate would have it, I would come back home just in time before the whole world went on lockdown in 2020. I stayed back in Arizona until the summer of 2020 before moving back to California to kick start my business up again. Luckily for me, this time around, I was fortunate enough to quickly build a clientele base that supported me and since then have been owner/ operator of The Sk8 Coach full time and currently have a team of 6 coaches that service lessons in North County San Diego and Phoenix, Arizona. We’re now a full-service skate program offering lessons, camps, skatepark tours, and birthday parties around North County. Recently, we built our own portable skatepark with all the equipment necessary to operate our program on the go and have partnered with several schools in the area to provide after-school skate programs. It’s been a dream come true of mine to get to where we are with the program, and it still feels like it’s just the beginning. I’m really excited for the future, and we hope to continue to inspire the youth and other small business owners out there. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” 

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Doing this business has definitely had its fair share of ups and downs since the very beginning. Just to name a few, I’ve had to rebuild my program basically three times, I’ve had other companies try to force me out of the industry, and times when I couldn’t afford a place to live. I would say the lowest point in my career came when I had parted ways with the program in Vista and had very little money or income to make a living in California. I was sleeping out of my van for nearly two weeks when for the first time in my life, I ended up throwing out my back. I was almost completely immobilized, and any slight movement would put me in agonizing pain. I stayed in a cheap motel for two nights before making the decision to drive back home to Arizona to try and recover. It was a defeated feeling being back at my parents, barely able to walk, and knowing the reality of having my own skate program as a career could be over. But thankfully for me, skateboarding has taught me countless valuable life lessons over the course of nearly two decades, and one of the most prominent lessons is that success often does not come without failure. In skateboarding, you might fail hundreds of times before landing a trick. You just have to trust in the process, believe in yourself, and persevere. I told myself I wasn’t going to quit, and I ended up rebuilding my program (the first time) enough to stay afloat by taking other side jobs. That whole experience taught me a lot about myself, and it gave me an unwavering belief that running The Sk8 Coach would become my career and legacy in skateboarding. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
The Sk8 Coach is a youth skateboarding program based out of San Diego North County and Phoenix, Arizona. We offer lessons, camps, skateparks tours, birthday parties, and events for kids & teens ages 5-16. Created in 2016 by Owner/ Operator Matt Suncin with 17 years of skateboarding experience and 11 years experience as a coach. The Sk8 Coach is San Diego North County’s premier youth skateboarding program. Check out our five-star reviews on Google and Yelp to hear why parents and kids choose us. We’re are truly passionate about what we do and create fun and unique skate programs that you can’t get anywhere else, such as our monthly recurring LA travel camp. One thing we’re doing that we are really stoked on is we recently created our own portable skatepark and have partnered with several schools in the area to offer after-school skate programs starting this fall. Our mission is to give more kids the opportunity to learn about skateboarding and be able to participate and progress in our beloved activity within a safe environment where they can thrive best. Readers of this article can receive a free trial lesson by contacting us on our website and including they found us through SD Voyager Mag! 

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Here’s a couple random ones for you: 

My mom is a retired detective for PHX PD. 

I’m sponsored by a soda company called Jarritos; maybe you’ve heard of em’. 

I lived in China and served as a coach for the Chinese Olympic Skateboarding team. 

I actually teach skate lessons and run a skateboarding program for a living. Pinch me! 

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@its.just.l
@chrisclicksdigital

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