Kalani Ferolino: Rising Star in Transition Skateboarding

November 30, 2023 / By jacquelinedavis

Stance: Regular
Age: 14
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Global Rank: 319th in park; 237 in vert
Instagram: @lani_757
Sponsors: Coastal Edge, Lineage Skate, Centaur Hawaii, RipPak, Old Bones Therapy, RHIP CLIP, Listen to Turtle, Zsk8tz

Credits: Nic Bussius

You know when you meet someone for the first time and sense they are something special? That was my impression when I recently sat down with 14-yr-old Virginia Beach transition skater Kalani ‘Lani’ Ferolino and his father Mark over Zoom.

Fourteen is an age where you’re not really a kid anymore, and not quite an adult either. Kalani represents more maturely than his years. He is kind, intelligent, and driven. He skates with the style of a seasoned pro. Watching him slay a mini pipe, or a bowl, catching big air, you sense where the young skater catches inspiration. There are echoes of the past in Kalani’s future.

After winning a VIP pass to Jackalope Virginia Beach this past summer through a Virginia Beach Public Schools Self-Edited Sports Video Contest, in addition to the two VIP passes that D. Nachnani, the owner of Coastal Edge Surf & Skate Shop provided to the Ferolino family, Kalani placed fourth overall in the grom division. This past year he has consistently placed first or second in nearly every contest he’s entered. He has his sights on big contests, big gains, with the support of his family and community behind him, and big stars of transition skating, from Christian Hosoi to Tony Hawk, taking notice.

Credits: Nic Bussius

Tell me, in your own words, how all this got started. What made you decide you wanted to be a skateboarder?

“From the age of 5 to 8 my dad, he had some old skateboards from the 80s and I was just curious as a kid. I was just taking them on the road, basically learning how to stand on them and ride on them.”

“I’d just been having fun with it, a hobby on the side, and one day, during the summer, I was 8 years old, my dad’s friend and his son wanted to go to the skatepark, and I was like ‘sure I’ll go, skate, try something new.’ And since then, I just got hooked on it.”

What is your proudest accomplishment in skateboarding so far, and what are your next goals in skating? What’s your favorite trick?

“I think my proudest accomplishment is learning to be myself, in general. Skateboarding has taught me that, for sure. Some of my goals are stepping it up, competing in bigger contests, like Jackalope.”

“I definitely like big airs, anything you can blast and have a lot of style, like with a method or a big judo air. And other tricks like a layback or an invert, those are some of my favorites right now.”

Credits: Nic Bussius

A day in the life of Lani … what is a typical day for you like, from school to friends to training? What are your other interests outside of skateboarding? 

“I just started high school this year.I wake up at about 5:30 am. everyday, eat breakfast, catch the bus, get to school … then come back home before 3:00 pm. Have a snack, sometimes just stretch out and chill for a while. Then after that it’s straight to the skatepark or a backyard session where I usually skate for at least three hours. I’m more of a transition skater than street, so I just try and get in any transition I can.”

“Outside of skating I just like hanging out with friends. I’ve got two really good friends I like to hang out with Dash Hoffheimer, and Waylon Gent.”

How do you get in ‘the zone’ before a competition? What inspires you to keep going? Who are your heroes in skateboarding? 

“Usually I’ll try and practice. If it’s an out of state contest it’s sometimes hard, but we try and get there a few days early, get some practice runs in, just get a feel for the ramp, a sense of how I’m going to do.”

“The other part of the zone for me is to have fun, hang out with my friends. That’s the best way I can relieve the pressure, because if you mess up it’s all for fun anyways”

“There are a lot of local skaters who inspire me but to name one big skater … definitely Christian Hosoi because I love his style.

Do you have any words of wisdom, advice, or inspiration to share with other kids who love skateboarding and want to follow your path?

“If they’re interested, I would just tell them to go after their dreams.”

“Get to the skatepark if you want to try, as much as possible. Just try and have fun with it, because skateboarding is all about having fun. Go to the skatepark, meet new people. There are a lot of people in the skate community that can and are willing to help you.” 

Credits: Glenn Joyce

What has been a really big challenge for you in skateboarding, and how did you overcome it?

“Some big challenges are getting stuck on a trick, for sure, that can be really frustrating at times, especially when you feel like you’re progressing. You just have to overcome that feeling, go for a different trick, go do something fun. I try to get away from it, hang out with friends, maybe skate some street, and then come back to a trick eventually, when you feel better, then it becomes fun again. And it’s easier to land at that point.”

Wise words for someone so young, an approach to skateboarding that can easily be applied to life. I had some specific questions for Mark. Lani graciously stayed on the Zoom to hang out and contribute. We covered a lot of ground, about skateboarding, but also surfing and snowboarding, and music. Lani, in addition to skating like a dream, absolutely slays on drums. 

It is a trip to swap stories with a fellow board rider from the early generation. I think that part of what drives action sports forward now is how much these things meant to us in our youth and still do to this day, and how much we cherish spending time with our kids because this time is fleeting. 

When did you discover Lani might have a gift for skateboarding? How has your life changed as a parent as he’s followed his passion?

“I knew the day he was born he was going to be a board rider because he was able to support his own weight. He couldn’t balance, but I held him by his waist on like this (he shows me), and I’m rocking him back and forth with him standing in the palm of my hand thinking ‘he’s going to be a board rider one day.’”

“We started skating and he learned all the basics by the time he was eight. For me, when I realized he had a gift, it was during the pandemic. It was lockdown, there was nothing to do. Folks weren’t permitted to gather in groups of more than ten people, or whatever rules were being imposed. So I built a quarter pipe for him, and he started unlocking a whole bunch of tricks. His progression seemed to take off really quickly. I knew he was a good board rider, but that’s when his skating really started to accelerate.”

“The biggest way my life has changed is he pulled me back into skateboarding. It’s just good that we can ride together. I didn’t skateboard for over twenty years, and he pulled me back into it. It took quite a few months to learn to ride again, but I skate with him now as much as possible, and he’s progressed to a point where I can’t keep up with him anymore. At the skatepark we’ve met people who are like family to us now. We’re blessed to know a lot of people who have been in the skate scene for forty years. They never stopped. I stopped. I moved out to Hawaii in ’88 and it was all surf.”

What sort of things do you do as a family outside of action sports? How do you stay grounded with a child whose star is rising? 

“I guess the normal things families do, go out to eat together, go to the movies. We go camping. Usually camping is on a boarding trip to go surfing or something like that but it’s still camping.” (laughs) “I’ve taken him to see a lot of music, a lot of live shows, and that’s been amazing.”

Credits: Ryan Del Resorio

How has the skateboard community in Virginia Beach supported you? 

“It’s not only here. I feel like in the different places we travel to the skate scene is everywhere, skaters understand each other, he’s blessed to be a skater. He spent five weeks over the summer in Japan with his mom on a trip to see family. She took him all over the place. I reached out to some of the pros on Instagram from Japan like Moto Shibata. Moto told us to go to his home skatepark so Lani went and skated the vert ramp where Moto trains, and met a bunch of cool people, five weeks of them sharing their local spots with Lani and my wife, so rad, it was hours on the bullet train, but they got a pass and they went.”

“In Virginia we have a thriving, very good backyard scene. We’ve met so many good friends. Lani has come up in the backyard scene more than the skateparks. There are a lot of backyard jams and they’ve basically been there since day one, always supporting us, these backyard spots where he can train and local pros like Collin Graham will offer tips. We’re just all chilling and everyone knows everyone. It’s all good vibes down here.”

“We’ve met people like Jamie Tabor, he has a backyard half pipe, and Stewart Black who has a 6 ft tall bowl next to an 11 ft high vert ramp. Bob Kuehn who has a pool that doesn’t get filled anymore. It used to, now it stays empty so we can ride it. (laughs) We’re blessed to know a lot of cool people who have been in the skate scene for forty years. They’ve all been supportive, taking us under their wing. There’s nothing like it, and we just want to give a shout out to these guys: Stewart Black in Suffolk, Jamie Tabor in Chesapeake, Bob Kuehn, Kevin West,  and Angie & Virgil  (Rest in Love Virgil) in Virginia Beach.  

“It’s the whole east coast skate scene really. It’s humbling.”

Do you have any wise words for other parents who might find themselves in a similar situation with a child who is gifted in action sports at a young age? 

“Support them as much as you can. Let them have fun with it. Try not to push them about contests and competitions so much and don’t chase sponsorships and stuff like that, because it will fall into play. If they are having fun riding they are going to get better, and they’re going to be the best at it when they’re having fun. I say lead more towards the old school, the way it used to be, when the focus was on the fun and the camaraderie of the skate family that surrounds you.” 

Kalani Ferolino is an excellent role model for young athletes. The point I believe he and Mark kept driving home throughout our talk is to take things just seriously enough. To try and not get bogged down too much in the details, stay focused, stay driven, and allow things to unfold naturally. Never forget skateboarding – and life, honestly, is about having fun – and nothing is more important than the friendships you develop, and the community you become a part of as you follow your dreams as far as you choose to take them.