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Balancing act

October 31, 2002

Mike Sciacca

While most toddlers are learning to find their legs, wobbling

their way up into those first few stances, Nathan Groff was doing so

with flare.

His balancing act not only consisted of mastering the flat floor,

but also whatever skateboard happened to be laying around.

You see, Nathan's father, Eric, an avid skateboarder in his youth

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and part of the sport's "old school," collected vintage skateboards.

And, whichever of those rare finds happened to be within reach,

Nathan would climb aboard.

"He used to roll around and play with them before he could walk,"

said Nathan's mother, Sue. "Before the time he turned 1, he went from

playing with a skateboard to standing on one. I took a picture of him

and thought -- 'how cute.' Never did I think that his standing and

trying to ride a skateboard back then would lead to this."

Nathan, now 8, is becoming somewhat of a mini-master of the

skateboard. Just last weekend at Boomers Skatepark in Irvine, the

Huntington Beach youth became the overall series winner for Southern

California in the 2002 California Amateur Skateboard League's

8-and-under division.

That title earned the Hope Christian Academy student a spot in an

upcoming state event that will pit Southern California athletes

against their Northern California counterparts.

The state meet will be held Dec. 5 in Milpitas.

"Mostly, I just go out and have fun," Nathan said of his

skateboarding adventures. "I've always liked skateboarding. The

competitions are a lot of fun and I have a good time going out there.

If I happen to win, it's great."

Nathan has been competing since the age of 4 and has routinely

competed against skaters twice his age. He has traveled all over the

country doing demonstrations, exhibitions and grand openings with the

Vans Shoes Pee Wee amateur team, a squad consisting of 13 youngsters

13 years old and younger.

Nathan also does demos and exhibitions for other company teams

such as Hurley International, Deathbox Skateboards, Ninja Bearings,

Jokers Grind Rails, Pro Tec Safety Gear, Crooks Rails, Webb Trucks

and Gale Webb's Ride Hard, Ride Safe Xtream Team.

His touring schedule this past summer included joining his

teammates for a demonstration for a crowd of nearly 200 attending the

Hollywood premiere of "Scooby Doo, The Movie."

One day later, he was in Brentwood doing a demo with skateboard

phenom Tony Hawk as part of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS

Foundation's annual fund-raiser.

At the age of 3, Nathan had been hand-picked by Vans to do a

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