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Skate park co-founder memorialized

By: Lien Hoang, Special to The Placer Herald
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Local skateboard “legend” Thomas Sorci died a year ago in a car accident, but new skaters are just starting to discover him again. A plaque installed at the Johnson-Springview skate park dedicates a new bench to Sorci. It reads: “In memory of Tom Sorci, ‘The Legend,’ co-founder of Rocklin skate park, Aug. 3, 1977 – Sept. 7, 2009.” Friends and family inaugurated the memorial at the park Saturday. “Now people will know the story behind the skate park,” his mom, Betty Haring, said. That story is the effort of two 14-year-olds who proved even teenagers can write to the mayor, round up signatures, and help design what would be the only outdoor skate park in their city. One of those boys grew up to be Sorci, who friends say helped pioneer the area’s skateboarding rebirth, from a diversion for delinquents, to a competitive skill. Whether he was refurbishing old boards for kids in the neighborhood, or managing a skate shop, the devotion never left Sorci, even at age 32, when he died. The other boy grew up to be his lifelong friend Bobby Ingle. Just as they were partners in the six-year toil to launch a skate park in 1998, they naturally teamed up to open Nine 16 Skate Shop in Sacramento last year. For four months Sorci lived his dream, if not of going pro, then of running a shop for and by skaters, until he was fatally struck by a vehicle while riding a bike in September of last year. Within days, kith and kin were brainstorming how best to honor his memory. Carl Lewis, another childhood friend, took the helm, meeting with the city, placing orders, and helping Haring design the plaque. To pay for it, Nine 16 held a fundraiser in January, bringing in three local bands who knew Sorci, and raffling off merchandise. Of the money raised, they put $300 toward the bench and plaque (the Harings paid the rest of the $625 total) and $1,000 toward Sorci’s tombstone. Ingle said he wants to make this a biannual tradition, possibly putting the money into a college fund for Sorci’s four-year-old twins, Amaya and Kalyn. He couldn’t have chosen a better spot for the fundraiser. It was a place Ingle and Sorci (“the duo”) painted and fixed up together. The walls still boast Sorci’s photos, skateboard, and clothes, plus a cross that neighborhood kids made for him. “Every time I come in, I see him all over the place,” Ingle said. For a life cut short by misfortune, the bench and plaque mark a more lasting legacy – not that anyone had to tell Sorci how brief time was. Ingle said they were the kind of friends who greeted each other with hugs and said “I love you” regularly. That was their way of living the moment. “People take life too seriously, and life’s too short for that,” Ingle said. “Tommy knew that.”