While most young skaters are looking forward to the weekend and a night on the town in between sessions. Mikey Ray has set his sights a bit further. Looking to use his skills off the board to better the lives of everyone around him. While also staying one of the most productive skaters that the west coast has to offer. Gnarly enough to impress Jamie Thomas and graduate University at the same time.
Hey Michael, how’s things going?
It’s good! mostly been working on school work for the afternoon, but went to the skate park for a bit too. I have a paper, a presentation and a midterm coming up next week.
Yea you’ve been pretty busy. It took us a while to sneak this interview into your schedule. You’re going to school to be a nurse, what made you decide on that career path?
Yea, after I finished high school I knew I wanted to skate lots, but also had a goal to do some further education. I took some college courses and took a big interest in health sciences. I started volunteering at a hospital for a while and learned a bit more about what nurses do. I realized that it was an awesome career option, where I could use my brain and interact with people on a regular basis. From there I applied to programs. It’s been challenging to stay on top of it while trying to skate lots and do other stuff. But I’m stoked I chose to do it.
You have some pretty awesome parents. They both work in the medical field as well right? Did they have any influence on your decision? Are you trying to follow in their footsteps?
Yeah, they are the best! I lucked out with having them for parents. They are doctors, but they were always open to letting me figure out what I wanted to do. My dad is actually really down with skating. He’s always asking me when my next skate trip is (laughs). If I decided to do something outside of their line of work I think they’d be cool with it, but it’s possible that as I grew up, their values and interests rubbed off on me a bit.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge this year? Is it hard to turn off the world around you to sit down and study? Or do you find that because you enjoy what you are learning, that you find it harder to get in the streets and stay productive on your board?
The biggest challenge has been keeping a balance of the time I spend skating, studying, working, and having a social life. There’s definitely times where the busyness of school has made it difficult to take part in other things that I’d be doing if I had more time. But I enjoy all the stuff I do, so I’m not bummed out at all. Skating is kind of like my break from school stuff and vice versa, if that makes sense. It can be hard when I have solid deadlines for school, and then I can’t make it on a skate trip that I’d otherwise be going on. I guess just having enough time in the week to do everything is the biggest challenge (laughs).
It’s tough to find balance, but you have stayed fairly productive throughout your time in the classroom. You made it down to California this winter during your reading break and handled business. Who did you stay with down there? Were you filming for anything in particular, or were you just trying to skate as much as possible?
Yeah. A bunch of my friends had just gone on a skate trip to Europe that I couldn’t make due to school commitments. Nobody was really free to do a trip, so I decided to drive down there by myself and just meet up with people and tried to skate as much as I could. I stopped in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mostly met up with friends I had in different cities and just tagged along skating with them. I filmed and shot a bunch of stuff with Brandon (Alton) on that trip, and that’s how this interview came about. We have a video part to go along with it too, that should be out around the same time. Big thank you to him and to Nolan, Austyn, Adam, Mikey, Tadashi, TJ, Ryan, and Dani for letting me crash and showing me around.
Did you feel pressure to try and get as much footage as possible, or did you just roll with the flow and enjoy the weather?
I like to try and set goals to film and shoot photos but try not to stress on it. It’s good to have something to work for. I knew I wanted to get some solid stuff on the trip, but I also wanted to have a fun experience. The basic plan was to drive and stop in cities to skate and film, with the end point being LA for a contest. I did lots of other stuff too though. Went to the beach with friends a lot, watched the U.S. open of surfing, went to a couple shows at night, and at the end of the trip my girlfriend flew down and met me at Disneyland (laughs).
Aside from finishing school this year. What are some other goals you are working towards? Do you have any plans for the summer?
Once I graduate, hopefully I’ll find a nursing job. I’ve mostly been filming HD, since that’s what a bunch of my friends use. But, I have some VX footage that couldn’t get used in the part I mentioned earlier. So, finishing up an all VX part would be sweet. I also started getting Zero boards about a year ago, and their videos are all VX. So, I figure it makes sense for me to try and film more VX stuff.
How did riding for Zero come about? Did that pan out when Jamie (Thomas) came to Vancouver a few years ago? Or did you go the “Sponsor me” video route?
I had met Jamie a couple different times, once in Vancouver, and then again in Seattle at a contest. I mentioned that I was a fan, and that Zero was one of my favourites growing up. We talked about the possibility of me getting some Zero boards and then went from there. I’m really stoked it worked out! I got to hang out with him and a couple other guys on the team recently when they came up to Vancouver too, which was rad.
Nice, that’s as organic as it gets. What are his thoughts on you going to school full time? In the past the only way for a Canadian to “prove themselves” on a global scale was to move to the U.S. Has he put any pressure on you to spend more time in the states?
He’s told me he backs it and doesn’t put pressure on me to be in the states. The option for me to go down there to skate and hang with them is there, which I’d love to do soon. They’re working on a new video too, so maybe I could try and film a solid clip for it. He’s basically given me an opportunity and it’s up to me what I want to do with it. Can’t expect the world to just make things happen for you.