Delaware scooter shop owner hopes to support the scooter community with expanded opportunities

Blending BMX and skateboarding techniques, scootering is a lesser-known action sport that’s gaining popularity at Newport Skatepark in Delaware.

Jase Bryck Scooter Tricks

Jase Bryck has been coming to Newport Skatepark for two and a half years. (Cal Ransom/WHYY)

Scootering, an action sport that started in the early 2000s with the rise of the Razor scooter, can be found in urban environments or skateparks, where riders blend BMX and skateboarding styles to create a plethora of new tricks. In Delaware, a skatepark in Newport has become a hotspot for scooter riders.

Michael Pytel grew up riding at the Newport Skatepark as a young teen. He now owns a nearby shop, ECX Scooter Shop. He said the skatepark became a popular spot for scooter riding over time.

“When I started riding at the Newport Skatepark, it was a good third skaters, a third bikes, and a third scooters, but now any given day, you know, jump forward 15, 20 years from then, it’s all scooter riders,” Pytel said.

Michael Pytel
Michael Pytel owns ECX Scooter Shop in Newport. (Cal Ransom/WHYY)

Jackson Brady, a 15-year-old from New Jersey, said he’s found a scooter community in Newport after his local skatepark shut down.

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“I love coming down here cause this park is just run by scooter riders. Everyone here scooters and we all just film for each other and it’s a good time,” Brady said.

Pytel says despite the increased popularity of scooter riding at Newport, he saw turnover in his generation, with older riders leaving the sport when career opportunities weren’t readily available.

“We don’t have, on a large scale, enough adults that have the opportunity to where they don’t have to work a nine to five all day long and then be tired in the afternoon,” he said. “So it becomes unfortunate that the people that are deserving, the people that are mature — to really give back to the sport, because of the size of our industry, have to unfortunately not. They have to do other things just to survive and all.”

Pytel was able to buy the shop he worked at when he was 17, which sold scooter equipment, and said he uses the shop as a way to give back to the community. He runs competitions at Newport and sponsors a team of riders through his shop in hopes of giving older riders an incentive to grow with the community.

Mickey Tomchick is one of the riders on Pytel’s team. He says the team gives him a sense of community with riders beyond his generation.

“We try going out on trips like once a month, and it’s just a great time cause we get to go out, travel, go to other parks that we haven’t been to, just have a great time and show what ECX is, and get all the older riders back out riding again and get the younger ones wanting to have more fun riding, getting them to ride and get scooters and stuff,” Tomchick said.

watching a video on a phone
Jackson Brady, Mickey Tomchick, Lauren Heller, and Milo McCullough watch a clip recorded by Tomchick. (Cal Ransom/WHYY)

Pytel hopes the riders he selects for his team can be role models at the local level as well.

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“If you’re a sponsored athlete on a local level, you should be a role model,” he said. “You should be the kind of person that at any point a rider can come to you for help and advice and look up to you and say, ‘Wow, I want to do that.’”

Tomchick helps other riders film and edit videos for social media and encourages them to learn new tricks. He said that the riders all support each other at the skatepark.

“We’re all really close,” he said. “We’re all brothers, like a whole big family, and we don’t really see the age. We only see the riding, so if someone’s getting good, the other person’s like, ‘Oh, I see them getting good,’ that’s gonna make them keep building up together. And that’s just basically what we all do. We all progress together.”

Matt Porter was able to pursue a career in the scooter world as an instructor at the Woodward Camp action sports facility in Pennsylvania. As the camp’s scooter program manager, he said action sports are still growing on a national level, and many local spots don’t have role models who can give back to younger riders.

“There’s nothing quite yet like baseball, football, anything like that, who have people who have been committed throughout the years and years who are pretty much done at the competitive level and just wanna pass that knowledge on,” Porter said. “Action sports is still pretty young, and I feel like we are starting to get to that level where we do have people who are grown out and wanna be in that more coaching and role model state for the kids.”

Economic opportunities are growing for the younger generation. Lauren Heller, a 17-year-old rider, said that riders can attract attention from brands across the country through social media.

“Most scooter riders that are pretty serious try to post once or twice a week,” she said. “It’s almost like influencers. You have a posting schedule, you try to get things out, you try to blow up on Reels cause that’s how you get sponsorships. That’s how you get your parts paid for and how you get money to travel places. Instagram specifically is a pretty big deal for most riders. If you learn a trick, you video it, and you post it. It’s a lot of trying to get a sponsor, trying to get up in the industry.”

Mickey Tomchick and Jase Bryck on scooters
Mickey Tomchick and Jase Bryck work together on a trick. (Cal Ransom/WHYY)

Ten-year-old Jase Bryck isn’t sponsored yet but may be someday. His grandfather, Mike Owens acts as his manager and coach, and hopes to monetize Bryck’s success by creating a line of equipment.

“We invented a scooter bag for transportation,” Owens said. “I designed it. We just got our prototype back.”

He plans to sell the bags and create knee pads customized for scooter riders.

Opportunities have grown at competitions as well. Pytel was able to provide monetary prizes at a competition at Newport for the first time this year, thanks to support from a parent whose company sponsored the event.

“His son rides, but they as a company don’t have anything to do with scootering,” he said. “And yet what they were able to do — we had one of the largest prize pools for our youth in the country. So we as Newport Statepark, as Delaware, as this local scooter community, were able to do more for scootering than most organizations in the country.”

Pytel said that with the growing opportunities and support for the sport, he’d like to see more riders like him leading the sport nationally.

“On the national level, the people that are driving it are the corporations and the parents — and that’s great,” he said. “That is phenomenal for their kids. But that’s not gonna be great for the actual sport or the culture or the actual athletes that are gonna be doing this forever. If scooter riders aren’t, as they grow up, becoming the people that then take over, it’s always gonna be where it is right now to where we don’t have a strong local scene, to where we don’t have events frequently.”

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