Patrick O’Connor wakes his dad up at 5 a.m. to go skating on weekends. He pretty much has to. If the 9-year-old third grader isn’t the first one to get his dad up, his 13-year-old sister, Teresa, will be, meaning she sets the morning agenda. And since Teresa is already a state champion longboarder, you can bet that means they’ll be going surfing.
Yet Patrick’s been winning that breakfast club battle of late. He’s been dragging his old man out of the house at ungodly hours to skate various streets and parks from San Clemente, California, all the way to Venice Beach.
Fortunately, his father is a willing accomplice. “I’m in early riser,” notes John O’Connor, who runs a T-shirt business. “I’ve been going into my office at 4:00 a.m. just so I can get things off my plate and go for a quick surf at 6:00 a.m. with Teresa. Patrick does
the whole surf thing too, but he’s definitely in a skating phase right now.”
And his phase is complicating weekend plans in the O’Connor house.
“Dawn is actually the best time to go skate when you’re a 57-pound kid,” dad explains. “The parks are completely empty at that hour, whereas surf lineups are already packed. It’s a lot easier for a kid like Patrick to work on tricks when he has the place to himself.”
Patrick’s skating, which is starting to turn a few heads, is transferring skills to his surfing, and vice versa. His growing bag of skate tricks is complemented by an enviable surf-influenced style, especially evident in his “Bert” carves, which are an ode to ’70s surf icon Larry Bertlemann, who influenced Dog Town era skaters Jay Adams and Tony Alva.
So which path is Patrick likely to choose going forward?
“Right now, he’s 100 percent in the moment,” says dad. “He’ll win a surf trophy, then hand it to me and say, ‘Can I go skate now?’ And at the same time the moment he sticks a skate trick in the park he’ll go, ‘Let’s go surf!’ to see if he can transfer the lesson over. There’s really no loyalty to either sport, which is fine by me. I’m just along for the ride.”
But to be clear, fun has its limits. John O’Connor says he’s nearly impossible to wake up on Saturday afternoon. “That’s when the battle for mom’s attention begins.”