As the Olympics begins this week, one of the new competition events is Skateboarding, and one of the people primarily responsible is a Centre County Native. He’s the man overseeing the Skateboarding Competition in the Tokyo Olympics, and he has a secret — Gary Ream has never been on a skateboard in his life.
Gary Ream was born and raised in the Penns Valley Area of Centre County, where you’re more likely to see wheels attached to a buggy than a board. Between the villages of Aaronsburg and Woodward, along Route 45, there’s another Woodward, Gary Ream’s legacy – the legendary Woodward Camp.
Gary saying: “Skateboarding changed my life, Woodward changed my life. People ask if I had a vision. Visions sometimes are due to accidents and luck.” As Founder and Developer of Woodward, it brought Ream international fame and in 2003, the first meeting, in an international setting, about adding Skateboarding to the Olympics.
Among those helping Ream at Woodward Camp in the early days was his Father. The Family legacy continued as it was Gary Ream’s son, Brandon, a State High and Penn State Grad, who joined his Father in globe traveling, meetings about the Olympics. Brandon brought a perspective of knowing many Skaters, and their culture. Read saying: “To keep what the kids on the street have created, that their connectivity to all this and competition.”
A challenge to say the least was trying to blend that lifestyle with the structure of the International Olympic Committee. Ream adding: “They wanted us but didn’t know how to do it, due to problems in their Organization.”
In 2014, Ream lost his son Brandon at just 29-years-old when he died from cancer. For the Father, who from his early days in the Valley didn’t focus on negatives, the loss became further motivation for the Olympic quest. So now, 18 years after that first meeting, what will we see when Skateboarding debuts in the Olympics? Ream saying: “You’re going to see a 7500 seat stadium along the waterfront. We also negotiated to keep the facility in Tokyo for at least ten years.”
So whether its Penns Valley, Tokyo, or in between, Gary says “the board with four wheels is going to change the world.”