For most of his life, Wakefield resident Evan Mansolillo has been on his skateboard. Since the sixth grade, Mansolillo found himself deeply connected with the Southern Rhode Island skate community. Within that community, many have called the Old Mountain Field skatepark home. Since its original construction in early 2000, however, the park was due for renovation – something that Mansolillo recognized. Four years ago, during his junior year of high school, he dreamed up a plan.
“My advisor asked: If you could do a big project on anything, what would it be?” he says. At the time, he was a student at East Bay Met, and he saw that although local skaters were getting better, their small-town park remained outdated. Within just a few months, Mansolillo managed to curate his first fundraiser for Old Mountain Field: a competition he hosted at the skatepark that raised $4,000 in just one day. “The town needed to see there was enough of a movement to make these changes for the park, and I think we showed that.”
The original plan for Mansolillo and his committee of skaters was to break the divide between the park and the unused street hockey rink. “That was the first big thing – we doubled the size of the park with that alone,” Mansolillo explains. After its construction in 2015, the South County native found that Old Mountain Field could benefit from even more additions to the skatepark, including new rails, picnic tables, and ledges – features that any skater, regardless of experience, could use.
For Mansolillo, it’s been the best venture of his life. “It feels like a bigger [skating] community now after all the work we’ve done.”
Since the first fundraiser in 2014, Mansolillo has hosted multiple competitions for Old Mountain Field park. His most recent, and most successful, event took place at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck this past January. Between multiple sets by Newport-based band Those Guys and raffles from local skate shops and businesses, the fundraiser managed to sell the place out and raise $10,000 for the skatepark – doubling the amount he and his team have raised in four years.
Not only has Mansolillo made strides within the skating community through his revamping of Old Mountain Field park, but the 20-year-old also offers skating lessons and camps through his new business New England Skate Station. Based in Southern Rhode Island, NESS provides year-round lessons to anyone over the age of five, weather permitting. Camps will be offered in the summertime multiple times a week though a partnership with local parks and recreation departments.
With such great success, I had to ask when the park will finally meet the standards of the contemporary skater. “I will be satisfied when we get our bowl – essentially a swimming pool specifically built for skating,” Mansolillo explains. “Right now, I have to get up and drive an hour just to skate a bowl. It will be nice to not have to do that.” Wakefield