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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Malik Lloyd, DC’s Inline Skating Ninja

Malik Lloyd, an unassuming, lanky lad from Ward 7, is now making black history as a world-class inline skater and instructor. For those who associate skating with ice or roller derby, the term “inline” maybe a puzzle.

What Is Inline Skating?
According to the National Museum of Roller Skating’s website, the first known skates were created in the 1760s. James Plimpton was credited with revolutionizing the roller skate by inventing a skate in 1863 with four wheels, two pairs set side by side. The Peck & Snider Company patented an inline skate with two wheels in 1900. Later in 1966, after being influenced by a Chicago company, Scott Olson developed an inline skate possessing four wheels in a row with the front and back wheels extending beyond the boot. This was the prototype of inline skates.

Unlike quad skates, which have two front and two rear wheels, inline skates typically have two to five wheels arranged in a single line. People often refer to inline skating as Rollerblading and vice versa, but the correct term is inline skating. Rollerblade is an inline skate manufacturer and not an activity.

In front of Osaka Castle in Osaka, Japan

Falling in Love with Skating
Lloyd’s acquaintance with inline skating was a matter of happenstance. “I started skating when my oldest brother was visiting home from his time in the Marines. He left his skates at home when he went back, and that was the first pair of inline skates I ever used, even though they were four or five sizes too big,” said Lloyd, now 28, who started his love affair with skating around the tender age of eight.

Lloyd has tried, at least once, all the various types of skating techniques, including urban (freestyle), recreational, aggressive (trick), dance (rhythm), speed, slalom and hockey. Urban/freestyle remains his favorite and the style he practices daily. The self-proclaimed Inline Skating Ninja gave himself that moniker because “inline skating is core to my identity, and what makes me a ninja is the multitude of other disciplines I have acquired from my other interests.”

Lloyd estimates that he has logged more than 15,000 miles during his lifetime on skates. When he started skating in 1998, it was a popular fad and already a billion-dollar industry, according to information listed on the roller-skating website. “I was lucky because at the time it meant you could find skates almost anywhere and the prices weren’t outrageous,” Lloyd explained. “I was really dedicated to it, but by 2001 the popularity of inline skating was in serious decline and I found myself skating alone pretty much from 2002 to 2008. Lloyd was fortunate to meet a skating coach who would change his life.

Enter Nathaniel “Nate” Mills, who competed in three winter Olympics as a speedskater, including 1998 when he was elected United States team captain. Mills’ passion for skating and his tutelage further motivated Lloyd to hone his skills and take his love of skating to the next level.

“Meeting Coach Nat led me to being an instructor. While I was attending the School Without Walls class of 2009’s graduation, he saw me with my skates talking with people and asked about my interest in skating. He invited me to his camp, and I started volunteering shortly thereafter. I worked mostly as a volunteer until 2012, when I left my job at Staples after he offered me a job teaching with him at DC-ICE.”

Left to right: Takeshi Yasutoko, Malik Lloyd, Eito Yasutoko

DC-ICE is the acronym used by Coach Nat, as Mills is commonly known by a legion of kids throughout the city, for DC Inner City Excellence. It’s a year-round ice and inline skating program that Mills began with the goal of delivering the joy of skating to youth while emphasizing the ideals of the Olympics: finding joy in effort, exhibiting respect and fair play and the pursuit of excellence in body, mind and spirit.

“We worked together to build DC-ICE’s inline skating program into a six-day-a-week program for kids,” said Lloyd. “It was thanks to Coach Nat and working with him over these years that I’ve been able to not only become a certified instructor but also (when) I’m finally certified as an examiner,” said Lloyd.

Lloyd, who resides in Penn Branch, earned his certifications as a Level I and Level II skating instructor from Skate IA, the skate-instructors association for North and South America that proudly boasts of teaching skaters how to teach since 2004. He has trained and worked with the association’s director, Trish Alexander, a former competitive figure skater. “He is passionate about kids and skating,” said Alexander, who initially met Lloyd in 2015. “Malik is very committed to expanding inline skating. He is absolutely intentional about training and teaching people about skating.”

Capitol Hill parent Arvind Ganesan has been impressed by Lloyd’s teaching skills. “For me inline skating with Coach Malik has been wonderful. Alex, my son, has been working with him since he was nine. That was four years ago. Before that Alex couldn’t stand on his Rollerblades, but with Coach Malik everything just clicked. I attribute that directly to Coach Malik’s style. He has been both a friend and instructor to Alex,” said Ganesan. Thanks to Lloyd, Alex attended the Skate IA summer camp last August.

A Bright Future
Lloyd’s next goal is to qualify as an inline skating examiner. That will allow him to certify and assess skating instructors. He has been working for the past month in Atlanta at “a brick and mortar” skate shop called RollATL to gain experience.

Lloyd said of his future, “I want to travel and teach people how to start their own skating schools. I plan to purchase a van, fill it up with pretty nice skates, drive around the country and give skating lessons. In order for this to fully work, the skate instructors must see it as a sustainable lifestyle. It is about building this model and having it self-sustaining for all skate instructors.”

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