Prince Rupert abounds with individuals eager to help its community and give back any way they can, and maybe that’s why Marc Page has never left the city he was born in.
Page, who has owned and operated Loaded Sports since 2004, has taken the responsibility of giving back to kids in the sports community the way he knows how — by hosting free skateboarding and snowboarding competitions every year.
“Being a snowboard store, I always felt since I was making profits off of the snowboarding and skateboarding industry, I should be finding ways to give back as well,” Page said.
The way he sees it, giving Rupert youth the opportunity to participate in healthy activities, either rich or poor, gives the kids confidence, goals and a chance for a better path.
That’s not to say all youths go down bad paths, but Page can only speak from experience and snowboarding was a better way for him, so he figures it could be for the kids, too.
“I look for a fun way for these kids to compete and achieve their goals, whether it’s a new trick or winning a contest. Any kid that achieves their goal will get more pride in themselves and more confidence. Being a proud and confident person will allow you to get further in life,” he said.
When Page was younger, he would often have only $20 in his pocket when he was on the ski hill and had to choose between competing or eating.
“I always chose eating,” he said with a chuckle.
That’s why he doesn’t charge for his events. Money shouldn’t exclude snowboarders from competition, Page said.
The events started 13 years ago when he was helping out at his mom’s clothing store. A local skateboarder approached him and asked for help coming up with prizes for a skateboarding event he was putting on. But he never ended up holding the contest and Page was left with a bunch of prizes, so he decided to host the competition himself.
Once the contest was over, he thought “this isn’t so hard, I might as well open up a store.”
So he did, and Loaded Sports was born two months later in Nov. 2004. The first snowboarding event was held in 2006 — it was tougher figuring out the logistics of that one since it wasn’t in town.
But Page’s contributions to Rupert’s sports community go even further back than that. Growing up, he never really fixed on any specific sport until he hit high school. When he failed to make the A basketball team, he signed up for wrestling rather than join the B basketball team.
“I competed there for a long time and then coached the (wrestling) team for nine years after graduating. After getting into business, I didn’t really have time to coach anymore so I just took on other ways I could give back, like holding events,” Page said.
It was also in high school that the 39-year-old fell in love with snowboarding and it set him on a path from which he would never leave.
“I’m addicted to snowboarding. I’ve built my life around it,” he said.
Snowboarding — and also skateboarding, to some extent — give him an adrenaline fix, whether it’s going really fast on something you could potentially wipe out on, or trying new tricks.
And he has indeed built his life around it. Back in 2004, when he realized he could combine his passion for snowboarding with his career, he was quick to make that decision and he’s never looked back.
“It was a great feeling to know that I could run a board shop and I could run a business off of something that I love,” Page said.
The love of snowboarding has never left. On Monday, he took to the slopes of Shames Mountain for the 29th day this season, one shy of what’s always a goal of his: 30 snowboarding days a season. It’s those 30 days every winter that make up for the tough times in other parts of the year.
“If I get 30 days of snowboarding a season, when I come across a stressful time throughout the year, I just think back to my 30 days. I think, ‘you know what, I had a good season, or I’ve got one coming.’ You’ve got to think positive,” he said.
Whether it’s feeding into his love of the sport, keeping his business successful or helping the youth of Prince Rupert tap into that passion and enjoy snowboarding and skateboarding, one thing is sure: snowboarding has become Page’s life, and by the looks of it, he wouldn’t have it any other way.