When Greg Lutzka was a 10-year-old kid in Milwaukee, there was no safe and legal place to practice skateboarding – except....
"My driveway," Lutzka said Monday. "No ramps or anything. I just made it up."
Made it up he did, and by the time he was 16, he turned professional, skating his way toward magazine covers, national and world titles, major corporate sponsorships and now his own clothing and accessories line.
Lutzka, now 27, made it to the top of the skating world through invention, initiative, hard work and passion, but he hopes he can make the route a little easier for kids today in Wauwatosa.
He will appear at Hart Park at 1 p.m. Tuesday on the site of a proposed Tosa skate park to talk to local skateboarders about how to make their dreams come true – whether that means someday going pro, like he did, or just having a fun, safe and legal place to ride, like he didn't.
"I just want to be supportive of what they're trying to do," Lutzka said, "and hopefully help give them an opportunity I didn't have.
"Skateboarding changed my life and kept me out of trouble. If it can keep other kids off the streets and off drugs and alcohol, then we should support that."
Lutzka won't be doing a demonstration of his considerable skills Tuesday afternoon – he pulled a muscle in his most recent X-Games performance.
But he'll tell his story and offer tips on how to promote the proposed skate park, something he thinks is sorely lacking.
"In California, where I live, within five miles there are five skate parks," Lutzka said. "It's a shame there is nowhere for these kids to practice."
Lutzka moved to Southern California, the center of American skateboarding, when he was 18. He had made his first showing two years before at a skating tournament in Tampa, Fla., and wowed the crowd.
"I was the new up and coming kid," Lutzka said. "Suddenly, I was in magazines and videos and everybody was noticing me. I decided to go for it; I made up my mind to become a professional athlete, and ever since I've been living my dream, doing what I love."
Lutzka will also donate T-shirts from his Good Livin' clothing line to Tosa Skateboarders United, the local group that is backing and fundraising for the skate park here.
TSU's skaters, pumped from their pep talk with Lutzka on Tuesday, will be handling the concessions Wednesday at the Tosa Tonight concert in the park, with proceeds going to their skate park fund.
“We have been talking with Greg on the phone about our project, but this will be the first time we will be able to show him the incredible conceptual design at the actual site”, said Judy Doyle, board secretary of TSU. “Greg grew up skating in the Milwaukee area and is very aware of the tremendous benefit this type of facility will have for the community."
Lutzka's skating awards include two Dew Tour first-place finishes, two X-Games gold medals, a gold medal at the Globe World Championships and, most recently, the top prize at the Maloof Money Cup NYC.
Among his corporate sponsors are Darkstar Skateboards, Independent Trucks, K-Swiss shoes, Oakley sunglasses and Rockstar Energy Drink.