When Zac McLean, 12, looked at his Instagram feed and saw a post about an opportunity to meet one of the world’s top scooter pros, he knew he had to go.
Heart pounding, he started to text his mom asking for a ticket. Luckily, she already saw the post and had signed him up. Twenty minutes later and the camps were full.
“They surprised everyone on Instagram,” he said. “I was thinking I really wanted to go.”
Around 50 young people had successfully won the ticket race to spend three hours with pro scooter Raymond Warner, 26, while he taught them different tricks in a St. Albert scooter shop.
Cameron Banks, 11, was excited when he got his golden ticket. By the end of the camp he successfully completed a back-flip on his scooter.
“I was super excited. I threw it on the ramp a couple of times and I landed it. It was a lot easier than I thought,” he said.
Saturday and Sunday were divided into four camps with around 12 young people per camp. But not all hope was lost for those who missed their chance to participate in the camp. On Friday Warner arrived at Wheelz Scooter Shop for a meet and greet, where fans could get autographs and a handshake.
More than 300 young people from across Canada crammed into the 800-square-foot scooter shop in the Riel Business Park for an opportunity to meet the pro.
Sean Danchuk, owner of Wheelz Inc. where the camps were held, said Warner took the time to meet each fan and give them a ride on his scooter.
“The kids are so stoked,” he said. “He’s so good with the kids, it’s phenomenal.”
After the camp Warner said in an interview that he wanted to give each young person attention based on a bad experience he had as a youth.
Warner started his career at the young age of 13 years old. The scooter was a relatively new concept at the time, and he was infatuated with it.
“Scootering wasn’t a thing yet, it was just a thought,” he said. “When you’re a kid, you were just a kid that rode scooters and were relatively good at it.”
While there were no mega-pros like skateboarding and BMXing had, there was one idol Warner looked up to. Walking nervously up to the semi-pro, Warner said he was overcome by nerves.
“I finally was able to work up the confidence and go up to him and shake his hand, and he blew me off. He was like ‘get out of here kid.’ It was devastating,” he said. “I almost wanted to stop scootering at that point.”
Warner walked off dismayed, but decided to use it as a learning experience.
“At that age you’re so influenced by everything, so it was scary almost. Now I remember how I felt when that happened and I made sure to never make a kid feel that way,” he said.
That wasn’t the only hurdle of discouragement Warner had to jump over. As one of the forerunners of the recreational sport, he paved the way for the future of scooter riding as a career.
When he was in high school his dream of being a pro scooter rider was often met by skepticism. He said a popular teacher at the school was shown a video of Warner doing tricks, and in front of the class put him down.
“He said in front of the entire class that I should just quit because I wasn’t going to get anywhere doing that ever,” he said.
That didn’t keep Warner down. He decided to take his teacher’s comment and prove his teacher wrong. He said often adults have an idea of what defines success and are quick to dismiss anything outside of it. Instead, he encourages young people to chase their dreams.
“Don’t worry about what people say, as long as it’s positive just do what you enjoy and work hard,” he said.
Some of the young people at the event on Friday were so nervous meeting Warner that their hands were shaking as they handed him their helmet to be signed.
Instead of letting the attention get to his head, Warner said it’s humbling.
“It’s a very warming feeling knowing that kids look up to you so much where they come up to you and they’re shaking. It’s almost scary because you know you have such an influence on kids,” he said.
This past weekend was the first time Warner has visited western Canada. He lives in southern California.