This Group of Dads Skates Through the Tri-State

Founded by a Northern Kentucky dad, the Dad Skate Squad meets every Wednesday night to skate and socialize around the tri-state.

Photograph by Devyn Glista

As people grow older, they typically leave their childhood activities in the past. But a group of tri-state area dads have found a way to bring their adolescent love of skateboarding into their adult lives. The Dad Skate Squad, founded by Northern Kentucky dad JonBob Willis, meets every Wednesday night to skate and socialize. The convoy of about 30 dads ride about six miles around different Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky neighborhoods, and after each ride, they often meet up at a local bar. “We’re like a real gang now,” Willis says. “There’s a novelty to the whole thing. It’s really fun, and people really wanted to do it.”

Photograph by Devyn Glista

It all started on Memorial Day weekend when Willis and his friend decided to ride their daughters’ skateboards around the block. They ended up skating for an hour all over the neighborhood. The following week a few friends joined. “It blew up, and so many people wanted to come. We had to come up with a name for this thing,” Willis says. “When we formed the Instagram, it grew to hundreds of followers almost immediately.”

Now, Willis says he’s met 100 different people during the different skate nights throughout the summer.  “It has been really cool to see people coming and making connections with people, watching the banter that happens online through the week, and watching people find friends,” he says.

The relational aspect of the squad has been especially helpful during the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve all been looking for ways to connect as people. These are ways to connect and get outside. It’s super communal and ticks a bunch of boxes in keeping everyone safe as well.”

Those who want to join the Dad Skate Squad have to fulfill three criteria: “You have to be a dad and you have to have a skateboard. Those are really the only rules. Well that and don’t be lame,” Willis adds with a chuckle.

The Dad Skate Squad has also started something called “Shorty Night,” where dads bring their kids to skate with the squad. The first kid-friendly event included more than 70 participants.

Photograph by Devyn Glista

“Who doesn’t want to be a great dad? Our hope is that dads get better at dad-ing, because they’re part of the Dad Skate Squad,” member Robbie Reider says.

To get up-to-date information on where the Dad Skate Squad will skate next, follow their Instagram page @dadskatesquad.

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