ENCINITAS — Olympic skateboarder Bryce Wettstein asked a couple of young skateboarders a simple question this week at the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA Skate Park in Encinitas.
“What is your dream?” Wettstein inquired.
Thanks to Wettstein and her family’s recent donation of a hand-built vert ramp from their backyard to the Encinitas YMCA, an aspiring young athlete with dreams of becoming a professional vert skateboarder may get closer to achieving their goals.
“This ramp can speak so clearly to somebody,” Wettstein told The Coast News. “Somebody could have their life changed forever because of this.”
The 17-year-old regular-footed skateboarder and X-Games bronze medal winner is a free spirit with myriad creative outlets, from surfing to songwriting. But perhaps no outlet is bigger than her love for skateboarding.
And there is no place she feels that love more than the place she learned to skate. For Wettstein, it was an easy choice to give back to the local skate park.
“If I’m not giving, I’m not receiving very much,” Wettstein said.
Wettstein’s father, Max, says the homeowners association has allowed them to keep the ramp in their backyard while his daughter trained for the Tokyo Games this past summer but they now must remove it.
While the ramp is still being reassembled at the Encinitas YMCA Skate Park, Mike Wilson, director of skatepark transportation, is confident it will be ready soon.
This is not the first time the park has featured a vert ramp. Up until 2019, the skate park had a ramp used by professionals and amateurs alike and known to skaters around the world.
However, the ramp began to see less use when professionals began using their own homemade ramps, according to Wilson.
“We just kind of stopped giving it love and then it started to rot,” Wilson said. “And if we were looking to put money into it it was going to be around $30,000 probably to fully do everything.”
After the vert ramp was removed two years ago, the park built a new mini ramp for a younger demographic learning to skateboard.
Wettstein, who is well aware of what it is like growing up skating in Encinitas, is happy to give a new opportunity to a local skater.
“Someone could be growing up their whole life here dreaming of a vert ramp and then one day it’s here,” Wettstein said.
The park was not looking to get another vert ramp until Wettstein offered her a smaller version of a ramp to the park she and her family built themselves.
“It’s 10 feet and those sized vert ramps really don’t exist anymore,” Wilson said. “This isn’t a regular vert ramp, it’s a mini vert ramp and what that really is for is to get kids learning and get them started and maybe eventually get them onto a bigger vert ramp. It’s perfect.”
Wilson is enthusiastic about the potential of restarting the vert scene in the community, especially with the Olympics slated to include vert skating in the 2024 Summer Games.
“I think it’s going to get the next generation ready, get them on vert sooner and get them progressing to a high level at a younger age,” Wilson said. “I’m not saying in 2024 an athlete will come out of here but maybe 2028, who knows?”
Wettstein spends a lot of her free time skating at different parks across San Diego County but said she often finds herself back at the YMCA where she got her start.
She is well known by the younger skaters who look up to her as both an Olympian, mentor and skating partner. Wettstein’s welcoming spirit and passion for the sport were on display this week as she spent some time skating with a few amateur skaters, focusing on encouraging them rather than practicing herself.
When a younger skater was attempting a trick they were struggling to land, Wettstein shared some simple words of wisdom.
“We’re not gonna ever bail on anything,” Wettstein said.