Skateboarding didn’t come easy to San Francisco resident Terrell Newell, but it was something that just clicked with him.
Terrell “Poohrail” Newell started skating when he was just 3 years old. He picked up many hobbies during his childhood, but was hooked on skateboarding after the first time he tried it. His love for Winnie the Pooh as a kid led to his brother giving him the nickname.
“I used to pogo stick, too. I used to just do it all, and then skated, and then skating was just one of those things,” Poohrail said. “He (his brother) gave me the name because of Winnie the Pooh and my name is Terrell so he just put two and two together.”
Going to school always conflicted with Poohrail’s love of skateboarding, but he made sure to take every opportunity he had to work on his craft and skate.
“My mom would get frustrated, my grandmother would get frustrated, because I wouldn’t even do my homework,” Poohrail said.
Poohrail would play Tony Hawk video games where he could learn about pro skateboarders and their tricks by clicking on each of their profiles.
“I think Ryan Sheckler was in one of them, and I used to watch his all the time. That’s when I was really trying to get the kickflips correct, because he was doing kickflips off the gaps, and the gaps were huge!” Poohrail said. “I’m like, ‘How does he do that shit?’”
As Poohrail admired his heroes, he would also try to develop his own skateboarding style. He would skate all over the Bay Area and eventually started skating at Town Park, AKA De Fremery Skate Park in Oakland in 2008. It was here in West Oakland that Poohrail met one of his mentors, K-Dub.
Keith “K-Dub” Williams is an artist, educator and youth advocate in Oakland.
After meeting K-Dub, young Poohrail would participate in “Hood Games,” a skate contest at Town Park that K-Dub and pro skater Karl Watson organize and host together.
“It was there on that pro course that I saw his ability to step his game up and shine,” K-Dub said.
Turning pro is almost every skateboarders dream. Poohrail turned pro during the summer of 2018 with Create Skateboards, a Bay Area skateboard company. It takes a lot of hard work as a skateboarder to get noticed by a skateboarding company. Once a company notices them, they’ll keep an eye on the skateboarder and see if they represent their brand, and if they see that the skater works hard enough, the company will turn the skater pro. This often means giving the skateboarder their own “pro board,” a skateboard with the skater’s name designed on it.
Previously, Poohrail skated for other companies like DGK, and he is now sponsored by Nike. He had even worked with Create Skateboards for a moment, but left. Once he made the decision to return to Create, the company wanted him on another level.
“I was actually so surprised I started crying,” Poohrail said. “My heart dropped.”
Being part of the Bay Area skate community for so long has influenced many young skateboarders in the Bay Area. Among this community are, kids, adults, and even SF State students. Rather than a skate community specific to just the school, the students who skate at SF State are strongly involved with the larger, Bay Area skate community.
But skating is actually prohibited at SF State. Residential Life at SF State tweeted: “Skateboarding is not permitted anywhere on university grounds, including if you use it to transit around campus. Also, performing skate tricks on campus is also prohibited. High risk of injury and causes a disturbance to nearby rooms & apartments.”
“SFSU is not involved at all in the skate community even though there are many students that skate here,” said Savion Zohman, an SF State senior and long-time friend and roommate of Poohrail.
“It’s more of a community. It’s way bigger than what the schools are about,” Poohrail said.
As for what’s next for Poohrail, the skater plans to give back to his community. He is currently teaching one of his mentor’s sons how to skateboard, and wants to host contests similar to the ones that K-Dub has held for the youth at Town Park. He wants to hand out skateboards to young members of the skating community and motivate them to skate.
“I’m trying to help other people out, you know, like how other people helped me,” Poohrail said.
Poohrail hopes to start competing at more pro events, like the Tampa Pro in Florida, and he eventually plans to become a street league skateboarder.
“Skating’s all I know,” Poohrail said.