While parents may be a good source for advice on those "old-fashioned" sports like baseball, softball and basketball ("Keep your eye on the ball!"), it's unlikely they're going to know much about today's generation of contemporary sports like snowboarding and skateboarding.
But as many Carson Country youth are discovering, the Out of Bounds Board Shop (3179 S. Carson St.) is a place where kids are made to feel welcome by owners Eric and Kathy Robie. In the shop, they strive to create a relaxed atmosphere where kids can feel free to bring their questions and learn about boarding.
But the Robies are doing more than just providing a library of information for local boarders. They're currently sponsoring a snowboarding team that provides transportation and assistance to young riders who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hit the slopes, half pipes and terrain parks.
"They're the reason I have what I have now," said Ryan Kronenberg, 21, a Gardnerville resident who is sponsored by a number of companies, including Sims Snowboards. "More than anything, they've provided moral support. This is the best shop, not just because of the snowboarding, but because of the atmosphere."
The Robies opened the Out of Bounds Shop in Carson City in 1996 and a second shop in Gardnerville in 1999. This season, there are 12 riders sponsored by the shop. Eric said it's a boarder's attitude, not ability, that determines whether he or she will be on the Out of Bounds team.
"A person doesn't have to be a great boarder, but they have to have a great attitude and it's a benefit if they like helping out kids," said Eric, 32, who himself has been a boarder "since the beginning of time."
Before Eric sponsors a rider, he goes up on the hill with the person to make sure his or her personality will fit in with the Out of Bounds team.
"We'll go ride together, and see their attitude what kind of person they are," Eric said. "Once a person starts riding with the guys on the team, they'll improve three-fold."
Eric said his motivation for sponsoring a team was to give kids a different introduction to the sport than the one he received when he first began boarding.
"When I was young, I was so intimidated," Eric said. "I wanted to make the environment comfortable, not with the attitude 'I'm the coolest.'
"I got into the business knowing I wasn't going to make a million, but I love the sport. We'll help out anybody out there who it's possible to help."
The Out of Bounds boarders, who range in age from 12-21, have been competing this winter in the USASA South Shore snowboarding series. When they haven't been competing, they've taken road trips to Mammoth, Squaw Valley and Northstar in addition to their regular practice sessions at Kirkwood and Heavenly.
The team is currently training for the Kirkwood Mountain Surf Banked Slalom competition on Mar. 19.
Kronenberg has been the most successful of the Out of Bounds boarders. He has qualified for the nationals two-straight years, placed 11th in the Van's Triple Crown, and was first in the 1999 Boarding for Breast Cancer amateur half pipe. He has once again qualified for the nationals, which are set for Mar. 27-April 1 in Waterville, N.H.
Mike Orlick, 12, a seventh-grader a Eagle Valley Middle School, came within one place of qualifying for nationals despite being a relative newcomer to the sport. Mike's father, Pat Conroy, said he has been impressed with the way the Out of Bounds boarders readily accepted his son as a team member.
"They don't treat Mike like a 12-year-old," said Conroy. "He comes over to the shop and Eric and Kathy encourage him. They treat him with respect, which is important to me as a parent.
"To me, who won the contest and who is sponsored by which company is meaningless. What's important to me is that Out of Bounds makes the kids feel like what they are doing is important. A good group of guys comes out of here - excellent people - and that's a reflection on Eric and Kathy."
The boarders on the Out of Bounds team this winter are: Dwayne Moore, Ryan Hansen, Kronenberg, Mike Orlick, B.G. Graber, Ernie Peachey, Kevin Strande, Lindsay Dimitri, Brittney Perkins, Adam Gardner, Nate Gardner, Jangis Johnson and team manager Ryan Clark.
The shop is also sponsoring several skateboarding and wakeboarding athletes. The skateboarders include Denny Howard, Nick White, Jeff Chilton, Sam Cook and Andrew Jurado. The wakeboarders are Donnie Denton and Scott Dart.
For information of the Out of Bounds teams, call 888-2010.