It’s easy to forget to breathe when watching Wake Schepman skate. He defies gravity as he flies over ramps and twists in the air. His favorite stunt is a trick called a flat spin 540. It’s an unbelievable sideways backflip with one and a half rotations.
Wake, 16, of Hunlock Creek, is a phenomenon in the world of inline skating, also known as Rollerblading.
He’s a likeable and humble high school student who enjoys Boy Scouting and church activities. He has won many competitions and is the only teen ranked in the top 10 inline skaters in the world.
“The biggest accomplishment I have had was this last February,” he said. “I competed in the biggest Rollerblading competition in North America called the Bittercold Showdown. I won third place. First place went to a man from Australia and second place went to a man from France.”
The Bittercold Showdown was held in Royal Oak, Michigan and drew the best inline skaters from around the globe.
Wake’s mom, April, said the family has been in the Back Mountain area for four years. She said the winters here are a challenge for her son’s skating because one of his parents must drive him to the closest indoor skating park if the weather is bad.
In good weather, Wake practices on the backyard ramp his dad, Wes, created for him.
April used to be afraid when Wake first started skating at age 5. “You become desensitized after a while,” she said. “I do still worry when he does tricks on the Mini-Mega ramp. It is a huge ramp and he gets going very fast.”
Inline skating can be dangerous. Wake says his injuries so far have been minor, citing broken wrists as the most serious he’s experienced.
There are obviously challenges in having a child so talented but April said one of the biggest challenges doesn’t apply in Wake’s case. “Any talented person can become proud,” she said. “Being humble comes naturally to Wake so that hasn’t been too hard to reign in on. He is extremely thankful for his talents.”
Wake will perform this summer at Dorney Park in Allentown. He has just signed on with All Wheel Sports, a performing group which includes inline skaters, skateboarders and bicycle stunt artists. A team from All Wheel Sports made the semi-finals in the seventh season of “America’s Got Talent” and Wake will perform with the group at the park when he is not traveling to competitions.
Does he prefer competitions or performances?
“I like both,” Wake said. “At competitions, I get to try new tricks and push my limits. I enjoy the competitive feeling and I perform well under pressure. At shows, everything is planned and practiced before. It gets a little repetitive after a while but I love to skate for the crowd.”
April sees characteristics in Wake that have allowed him to excel.
“He was blessed with wonderful personality traits that help him be this all-around great kid,” she said. “People like Wake and he loves to meet and talk to people. He is a kind, happy, friendly, athletic person and has great leadership abilities. He does have a competitive nature and all of our kids have this type of internal drive, determination, I guess, that makes their interests not just interests but intense, focused dedication.”
Wake would like more young people to get interested in inline skating and has advice for those who would like to skate.
“You should always wear a helmet and protective knee and elbow pads because even the professional skaters fall,” he said. “If you can, go to a local skatepark and watch skaters; that helps you. If not, you can look up videos on YouTube. Skate with a friend, too, or encourage your friends to skate with you.”
Wake sees skating in his future but has other plans as well. “When I graduate, I want to attend college and study architecture,” he said. “ But I am always looking for new opportunities to help further my skating career and the rollerblading industry.”