As a child, I thought I was great at bike riding. I could ride my bike with one hand and go fast around corners. I thought that was talent. Well that was talent until my jerky neighbor decided to challenge me to ride down the ginormous hill next to our house. Needless to say I gave up my “talent” after I wiped out and flipped over my handle bars. It was one of my most embarrassing moments as a child, and I don’t regret admitting that giving up said something about my 7-year-old self’s character: I lacked perseverance.
After that horrific spill down the hill I stopped riding my bike, it collected dust and eventually ended up in the Goodwill pile. However, not every child gives up after such a trivial fall. Salih Muhammad found an interest in skateboarding as a child, and persevered through all of his falls.
"Skating, it's just such a rough sport. I've never fallen so hard in my life. Skating is just one of those sports where [there’s] a physical toll, but it's always a grind. There have been times where I've been like, 'Man, I don’t know if can do this. I don’t know if I can try this trick again.’ Muhammad said."[There have been times] where I just want to give up but I’ve always had the support of my dad and my mom. I motivated myself even, and I say, ‘let’s try it again, let’s try it again, let’s do it again.’ I always pick myself up and hop back in there. That’s kinda the beauty of the sport. That’s how all skateboarders are. It’s always one more try, one more try, one more try.”
Through perseverance and practice Muhammad's ability was discovered by scouts which in turn landed him a couple sponsorships here and there.
“I really had self-motivation. I always thought like the dream is always once you start skating, it’s like ‘oh sweet.’ Then you see all the better skaters and they’re all sponsored you’re like, ‘Man I wanna get sponsors.’ And then once you get a sponsor you’re like, ‘Man I wanna go amateur.’ Then once you go amateur you’re like, ‘I can go pro, I want to go pro.’ It’s just kinda that need to want more,” Muhammad said.
While self-motivation played a large role in seeking out sponsorships, parental support also complimented self-motivation.
“What kind of motivated me was not only myself, but really my dad. He really pushed because he saw ‘Wow my kid is actually pretty good at this.’ He always would help me, give me tips [and] show me how to do stuff because he used to skate a little bit. He used to almost study skate videos and skateboarding. He was able to help me through a lot. [He was able to] be my filmer, he managed my social media for my sponsors; he was really almost like a parent manager. He really motivated me, and told me I could do it,” Muhammad explained.
While at a competition a few years back, Muhammed skated his way into every beginning skaters’ dream: a sponsorship opportunity.
“When I was about 14, [the competition] was in Lexington, Kentucky and I won the contest and then I got second in the other contest. I skated really, really well and he [the scout] just so happened to be the rep that sends out product for Quiksilver. He thought I got fleeced in the second contest and that I should’ve won them both, but either way it happened. Anyways he came up to my dad while I was skating, because I had my headphones in and you can’t really stop me when my headphones are in. And he talked to my dad for a little bit, he [was] like, ‘Oh is that your son? Oh he’s really good, have him come talk to us about a sponsorship.’ And then whenever I went to get a drink from my dad he was like, ‘Hey this is Mr. Side’ and he [Mr. Side] was like, ‘Hey talk to me about sponsorships.’ He kinda came to me, I didn’t go to him. He just watched me perform, and he liked my attitude and how I skated,” Muhammad said.
Not only is Muhammad a sponsored skateboarder, he’s also an athlete and a student at Crown Point High School.
“[Balancing everything is about] really just staying cool and just knowing that I know what I’m doing. I’ve been through it before and I’ll find a way to balance it all. If you just don’t stress yourself out, then you’ll do a lot better than worrying all the time. Just calm down, and just believe in yourself,” Muhammad said.