At first glance, there might not appear to be a logical connection between gymnastics and longboarding.
But that’s simply not the case. Just ask 24-year-old professional longboarder Brian Bishop of Wenham about the importance of his gymnastic background and how it comes in handy for his dazzling stunts.
“I’ve played almost every sport there is: basketball, rugby, soccer, and I even did gymnastics for a long time,” said Bishop, a 2007 Hamilton-Wenham Regional graduate. In high school we only had a girls’ (gymnastics) team — I was the only boy. I competed in vault and worked out with the team every day.
“That time spent turned out to be very helpful, because my balance and coordination came from that background. I do a lot of handstands on the longboard that I probably wouldn’t be able to perform quite so well otherwise.”
Having signed a professional contract two-and-a-half years ago, Bishop has been longboarding (like a skateboard, only longer and wider) for eight years and often records speeds up to 50 miles an hour as he twists and turns down steep hills.
He went to high school in New Hampshire initially, where a friend introduced him to longboarding. He began doing skateboard tricks on it, then high speed stuff before building his own ramps to do tricks on. Bishop began to get serious about the sport when he came home to finish high school at Hamilton-Wenham.
Bishop took some time off from Wentworth University to travel around the country to various longboard events, but has recently returned to college to get a degree in architecture.
“I’d love to build skateboard parks when I graduate,” said Bishop, who wears a full leather suit and helmet while longboarding. “I’ve designed all the ramps I’ve built; that’s something I plan to continue. There are a lot of similarities between architecture and skateboarding. In both, you’re able to create something of your own.