Volume One


Northwestern Bank


Gabe Brummett


Gabe Brummett

Gabe Brummett has lived in the Chippewa Valley for more than a decade, raising his family in its familiar landscape. In that time, he has been part of projects that bolstered Eau Claire into the place we know it as today, including the decade-long project formally unveiled at the end of last Summer: Boyd Skate Park. To see it through to its end, it took passion born from lived experience, motivation and perseverance carved from hearing “no” more often than “yes,” and a love for the community you just can’t fake.

Gabe Brummett is no stranger to the Eastside Hill neighborhood in Eau Claire. On top of his role as president of the nonprofit Eau Claire Skaters Association and his involvement in the local arts scene, he’s the person delivering smiles and packages to residents as the neighborhood UPS man.

When Gabe isn’t in the iconic brown UPS garb truckin’ around town, there’s a fair chance you’ll see him whoosh by on wheels. He’s been skateboarding for 29 years — he pledges he’ll keep skating until he’s “even older and grayer” — and is known for his ongoing work to shatter skater stereotypes, paving the way for greater support for skate parks. Perhaps the most tangible proof of his decades of persistence is the structure some Eastside Hill residents can view from their windows, one that Gabe drives past weekly for work: Boyd Skate Park.

Back when he first moved to Eau Claire with his wife, the city’s first skate spot, Lakeshore Park skate plaza, had not been created yet. “I had never lived anywhere where there was no skate park,” he recalled. So, he went to the Parks & Recreation Department and asked: How do we get a skate park?

Seeing Lakeshore’s skate spot created offered a small taste of what else could be done with further community support and funding. The 2,000-square-foot plaza, which opened in 2013, can only support a couple of skaters at once. Boyd Skate Park is more than double its size, coming in at about 5,200 square feet with far more features and the ability to unite more people. It was officially unveiled with a ribbon-cutting event on Saturday, June 17, 2023, after nearly 10 years of efforts — including the Eau Claire Skaters Association’s spearheading of raising an additional $75,000 in funds for the project.

The two tools that helped Gabe most — patience and persistence — were ones he developed thanks to skateboarding itself.

Gabe started skating in 1995 after quitting the plethora of organized sports he had grown up participating in, sometime between middle and high school. One day, he saw some guys skateboarding at the end of his block. “They were (using skateboards) in ways I didn’t know you could. I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna learn that,’ ” he laughed. That Christmas, his parents bought him his first skateboard, which he promptly broke the first day he used it.

Luckily, his birthday was just a couple of days later.

“My parents actually went to Kansas City to a real skate shop, which was rare at the time, and bought me a real Alien Workshop board,” he recalled. “From that day on, skating was all day, every day. It was all I could do or think about.”

Growing up, Gabe’s home life did not serve as a positive, supportive environment. But by leaving the house with his skateboard, he found a space that was. “Skateboarding saved my life. It pushed me in the right direction because of the community I found through it — it’s nothing but positivity. You fall down, your friends are there to help you get back up,” he said. “The more support you have, the better off you are, and there are so many things I’ve learned through skateboarding that taught me about life.”

And he sees that same kind of support today on the smooth concrete of Boyd Skate Park, and in the Chippewa Valley’s own overarching community. Throughout the nation and across the globe, skateboarding is seeing a level of public acceptance and support it never has before: it’s an Olympic sport; skateboarders have become household names and celebrities; and the top-selling extreme sports video game of all time is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. The sport has also become more inclusive, with pro female skaters and openly LGTBQ+ skaters as popular as the rest.

Officially earning nonprofit status at the start of the new year, the Eau Claire Skaters Association has the framework and community support that can take the past decades’ worth of efforts upwards and onwards. Things like the community skateboarding lessons the nonprofit began offering were met with near-overwhelming participation, and that’s just the start of what the organization wants to give back to the community.

“I think everybody wants to make the world a better place however they can, and this is the way I know how.”

That can’t be credited to one person though, Gabe said. It all started because of a community of skateboarders inviting the wider community in.

“The more we see each other and feel heard, and the more spaces we have for that type of positivity, the better off we’ll all be,” Gabe said. “I think everybody wants to make the world a better place however they can, and this is the way I know how. I know skateboarding is good. I want to share that with the world.”

Some folks are natural leaders, and that can reveal itself in any number of ways. It’s not always the outspoken person, or the one leading the pack: It is often the person standing behind the rest, steering the ship.

“We are all truly in this together, this crazy roller coaster of life. I feel like if you gather people together and just steer them in the right direction to the best of your ability, that’s what it’s about,” Gabe said. “I hope people can see what we’ve done here and it inspires them to do the same for their community. Never be scared to ask for what you want. We weren’t just going to be handed a beautiful skate park we wanted. We had to ask for it, and we had to do it together.”


David Carlson
Gabe Brummett
Chris Jorgenson