More than a building
Community support ramps up for GBASO’s new indoor skate park facility
By Janelle Fisher
After unexpectedly being forced to move out of its indoor skate park facility last April, Green Bay Action Sports Organization (GBASO) has found a new home at 2351 Holmgren Way in Ashwaubenon.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, GBASO held a fundraiser at its new space to help cover the cost of the remaining renovations needed before the organization can officially open its doors.
Supporters of GBASO made baked goods and crafts to sell at the event, which drew in roughly 250 people and raised around $8,000.
Last weekend’s fundraiser was inspired by 7-year-old Brayden Dix, who held his own fundraisers for GBASO after hearing that the organization would have to find a new facility.
Dix said he wanted to raise money so that GBASO could get back up and running as soon as possible after the move.
“I wanted to help GBASO get more money so they could get their new place faster and easier without having to work their butts off,” he said.
Dix raised roughly $1,200 by selling baked goods and hot chocolate and by asking his friends and family to donate to GBASO instead of getting him presents for his birthday.
New facility, new features
Head Skate Coach Eric Peters said the ramps from GBASO’s original facility made the move to the new facility, but this is the second major move those ramps have been through as they came to GBASO from a camp in northern Wisconsin.
“Brian Schroeder, the founder of GBASO, was able to get in contact with a camp up in Cable, Wisconsin, that was closing down called Lake Owen Camp,” Peters said. “And he was given permission to go up there and take all the ramps down and bring them down here to Green Bay to our first location. So he had a team of people that volunteered their time and went up there, took things apart and moved them down here. It was like a 260-mile journey, but luckily this time it was only a little over a mile.”
In addition to the ramps from the old facility, Peters said the new facility, which is much larger, will have additional features and be laid out in a much more open, connected way.
“Something new that we will have is a mine mega ramp,” he said. “A lot of kids that ride scooters or BMX bikes, and adults alike, enjoy having that big feature. We had a smaller version of that at the old place that didn’t really work out as well as it will at this spot. We will have an expanded flat ground area so kids can play games, and then we’ll also have a bigger beginner’s area where we’ll be able to teach lessons and classes.”
The GBASO community is already excited about what the new space will offer, including Dix.
“It looks a lot bigger,” Dix said. “One of the things I actually really wanted was to ride the whole park without having to cross rooms or anything, and they made that happen.”
Peters said the community-oriented nature of GBASO was a vision of the organization’s founder Brian Schroeder, who passed away in early 2021 from a brain tumor.
“Brian was able to create the community that we have right now,” Peters said. “Where everybody is supportive of each other — and that exists within action sports naturally where people are more excited to encourage each other in a competition rather than be competitive towards each other. It was Brian’s vision to be able to not only have a space where people could come in and learn how to skate and scooter and BMX and roller blade, but to also have that safe haven where you could thrive and feel that support through the whole community.”
Peters said Schroeder wanted GBASO to be a supportive place where people would be encouraged to try new things, even if those things were scary.
“Brian was able to live like three-and-a-half years after he got his prognosis of six months and he was still involved in the park,” Peters said. “And we have bracelets for sale today that say ‘function through fear’ because that was his big thing — that was his saying that he would have for people. Because doing anything is scary, but then doing something where you can get seriously hurt is even more scary. So, instead of letting fear cripple you, you emphasize that you want to be able to function through that fear and know that the pain that you’re going to go through to learn something is way less than the pain that you have knowing that you never put effort into trying to do something that you want to do.”
The hardest things to leave behind when GBASO moved to its new location, Peters said, were the murals on the walls of the old facility — specifically one of Schroeder, painted by Green Bay artist Beau Thomas.
Although leaving behind the murals tugged on everyone’s heartstrings, Peters said the most important part of GBASO will be with the organization no matter where they may end up.
“The biggest thing about GBASO is it’s much more than building and it’s much more than murals,” Peters said. “It’s about the community that we’re getting to experience. It was a little hard having to leave all that stuff behind, but there’s a lot more excitement about what the new stuff is going to be that fills that in. And even if we have to move again after here — which we’re hoping we won’t — GBASO is more about the community than the building that we’re in.”
If you asked anyone who attended last weekend’s fundraiser what makes GBASO special, they would echo that sentiment.
Three young attendees, Emmet Fierek, Evan Joppe and Ricky Sommers, said that the family-like atmosphere is what makes GBASO special.
“I’ve been coming here since I was young,” Emmet Fierek said. “So I have a lot of friends here and it’s an accepting place.”
“I really like to come here,” Joppe said. “You come here, hang out with your friends, skate and get better.”
Sommers said GBASO is “basically like a home away from home.”
Peters said GBASO hopes to have renovations completed and be able to welcome the community into the new space sometime this spring.