Colby Carter is now landing backside "smith grinds" at a Tempe skatepark he designed. "It’s a one-of-a-kind job," Carter said. "It’s definitely a dream come true. I keep wondering when it’s going to end. To me it’s destiny in a way."
The Tempe 31-year-old is a lead designer and construction manager for SITE Design Group, a Tempe-based firm that’s designed the majority of the Valley’s skateparks.
Through SITE Design, Carter has designed more than 80 skateparks around the world, from Tempe, Apache Junction and Paradise Valley, to Durban, South Africa, the Grand Cayman Islands and Middlesborough, England.
"It’s a unique opportunity to grow up skateboarding in Tempe and be able to design a skatepark in Tempe," said Carter, who began skating when he was 8. Carter’s mother is Tempe Councilwoman Barbara Carter.
Carter turned pro when he was 16 and was sponsored by several different companies. He graduated from Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School.
Carter still skates three times a week and integrates his interests in street and backyard pool skating into his designs.
For example, the Tempe Sports Complex Skate Park has a street course that includes a concrete picnic table, stairs with railings and ledges. Several of the bowls also are backyard pool-shaped with curved edges.
"Skateboarding is pure fun," Carter said. "It’s good freedom of expression, good exercise, and it’s challenging. I think skateboarding is a cultural phenomenon. I think of it more as a lifestyle, not a sport."
Carter met SITE Design owner Mike McIntyre at the opening of the Chandler skatepark, and was asked to work for the company because of his experience as a professional skateboarder, Carter said.
"There’s so much individuality in skateboarding," Carter said. "You can ride skateboards on anything. You’re only limited to your imagination and creativity. If you have eclectic tastes about life in general, it helps you be a better designer."
Carter is also a senior at Arizona State University working toward an urban horticulture and landscape design degree. He wants to continue designing skateparks, become a landscape architect and incorporate more landscaping into his designs.
Brad Siedlecki of Chandler, a SITE Design project manager/designer, said Carter brings "legitimacy to the company" through his experiences as a professional skateboarder.
"Colby is very good at what he does," said Siedlecki, 28, a skateboarder from New York. "He’s bringing all that many years of skateboarding to the table. He’s bringing all the competitions, all the people he knows. He’s bringing a lot to the table."