Inspired by “Back to the Future,” Josh Parmer picked up a skateboard after seeing Marty McFly* rip through time on his Valterra. Parmer’s family was into skiing, so a transition to skateboards was easy, especially when the famed Outfitters Ski Shop started dealing decks, trucks, and wheels. He started riding in third grade and kept up with the growing sport until he reached junior high. After taking a break for a year, he reconnected with skateboarding when “normal athletic” activities didn’t quite suit him.
“I remembered how much fun skateboarding was and I met a whole new group of people. And skateboarding really changed from the 80s to the 90s,” says Josh, who started riding about the time I was putting the board away and my stomping grounds of Reynolds Junior High were designated a “No Skateboarding” area. (Skateboarding is not a crime.) Fairly well known around the Lancaster skate scene, Josh’s signature trick is the blunt kickflip.
A blunt kickflip is a combination move using a ramp or a bank. The blunt portion involves traveling up the slope and resting atop the edge with the back trucks of the skateboard. Normally, a skater would simply hop back down the slope with a tap of the tail to the ramp, riding the board backwards. In a blunt kickflip the board is made to spin by kicking out with the forward foot. The rider lands back on top of the board and travels back down the ramp backwards. It’s a trick that takes a good deal of practice to perfect.
“You got your bag of tricks you can always go back to,” says Josh, whose time is now occupied by family, work, and other interests. But back in the day, Josh was sponsored by a local skate shop who helped with boards and contest fees.
“It was just a little incentive I needed,” says Josh.
His big opening into sponsorship came from a little company called Alliance out of Pottsville, who also sponsored pro skater and two-time Thrasher Magazine’s “Skater of the Year” award, Chris Cole.
“I skated well in a contest… and picked up some other small sponsors later on,” Josh recalls. “I got picked up by a company called Black Ink, but it was all just small stuff.”
The small stuff is awesome to a young skater. Heck, it’s awesome to me now as an old skater who only got a couple free t-shirts from Billabong when they made their stateside push into the skatewear market and visited Lancaster. Those sponsorships awarded him the honor of traveling to national competitions in Florida and California.
“I’m more excited about how I did in contests and showing up in Thrasher Magazine,” says the slightly humble Josh. “I had just learned to frontside air and Thrasher kinda clowned it, but it ended up in the magazine.”
After high school and through college he still skated, but eventually made ends meet by substitute teaching. He still picks up the board today, but most of his time is spent shredding papers and tests as a history teacher in the School District of Lancaster.
“Going to college opened my mind up a bit. While I was still a wild teenager, I was exposed to the serious stuff and I always liked history,” says Josh. “College was a time for intellectual growth, but it was also a time for spiritual growth.”
Campus Bible studies led him to focus on the rest of what life had to offer. The idea of following the lifestyle of a pro skater and leaving the Lancaster City he had grown to love became less appealing. His study of history also taught him about Freemasons, and he eventually asked a friend and coworker about the fraternal organization.
“I’m presently the Thrice Potent Master (presiding officer) of the Lancaster Lodge of Perfection, which is part of the Scottish Rite,” says Josh. “I’m a Past Master of Lodge 43. I pretty much live it.”
Being an active member of the Masons has been good for Josh. Through the Masons, he has been able to dedicate some of his time to charity, specifically the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Lancaster. Since its inception in 2002, the center has helped remedial reading and written language skills of more than 100 children and has trained 30 tutors.
Helping others, going back in history, and riding a skateboard sounds like “Back to the Future” could have starred Josh Parmer. It’s to Lancaster’s benefit that Josh didn’t come across a flux capacitor when he was a kid.
* Pro stuntman Charlie Croughwell actually did all the tricks in “Back to the Future;” he replaced European legend, freestyle skater Per Welinder (an original member of the Powell – Peralta Bones Brigade) when Michael J. Fox was cast as the role of Marty McFly.