There is a secret truth that the skate industry is desperate to hide. They bury it behind edgy music, grungy-film grain clips, and bountiful flame and skull graphics. The truth is this: skating? It’s all really just play, and rollerblader and quad skater Nix Fisch wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m just this adult that wants to do tricks,” they laughed. “The desire to be young, colorful, and playful works really well as a personal brand for me because it’s such an important thing to me as a person. If you know me, you know me with a kendama around my neck, a fidget spinner in my pocket, and skates in the trunk of my car.”

However Fisch didn’t start their skate career spinning wheels on concrete. Instead they were out on the ice playing hockey in Kansas City, MO. “From ages 4 to 14 I played hockey,” they explained. “Not great, but I was very comfortable on blades from an early age and skates with wheels were a means to practice for ice skating blades.”

For a long time rollerblading existed as a foggy memory of doing roller disco shows in the unfinished basement with their siblings to the latest N-Sync release. And those blades could’ve been forever locked away in the box of childhood nostalgia, if fate hadn’t offered them a key.

Married in 2020, Fisch’s partner began to explore their gender and sexuality and as Fisch explained, “seeing someone else question themself and what good can come out of it, [it inspired me to] take that journey for myself and look inwards.”

As Covid restrictions lifted and Fisch and their partner were stepping into their queer/trans identities, the duo built a solid queer community for themselves in Atlanta, GA.

Nix Fisch grinding on a rail.

“One of the amazing things that came out of that was meeting a couple that had a mini ramp in their backyard,” grinned Fisch. “[One of them] had quad skates and was really good at it and got the mini ramp in the backyard through the pandemic. When I tried on the quad skates, I immediately was like, I want to rollerblade.”

So one Craigslist ad later, Fisch was in their garage landing 360s, finding balance on the edge. They explained, “I learned every trick I could, got really into switch-ups, focused on aggressive blading. I started to find a community of skaters here, and [discovered] that the history of blading in Atlanta runs incredibly deep.”

For Fisch, joining the skate community was their first time coming into a space as a queer person. No re-introductions. No new pronouns to teach people. Just Nix. They explained further, “I had been an ice hockey player. I’d played kendama. I had done all these other things and been this [he/him] person named Nick who had a femme partner. But with skating, I came into it as a queer person meeting other queer people.”

This freedom in expression furthered as Fisch posted clips of their skating online. “I had a lot of fun creating content as this Nix person. There was opportunity for the fashion to feel more fluid. I could do things like wear crop tops, or have my hair in space buns. The first time I competed [the announcers] said Nix on the microphone and referred to me with they/them pronouns. It was just like, that’s who I am, and this community knows me as that person.”

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That first competition wasn’t just a gender affirming experience for Fisch, it was where they unlocked a whole new side to skating by purchasing a pair of quad skates.

After that 2022 competition, Fisch existed in a bit of a gray area when it came to their skating. Their plan was to compete again in 2023, but only in the inline division. But as they trained, quads crept more and more into their skate rotation. “For the weeks leading up to the competition, I would bring my quads to the park to practice. I quickly learned a few more tricks, and was like, I’m going to sign up for the quad competition and see what happens. What I was really focused on was intermediate blade. I just went to quads to have fun.”

Due to nerves and as Fisch said, “so much talent that I was lost in the shuffle”, they didn’t go terribly far in intermediate blades. Intermediate quads though, was a different story.

As Fisch summarized, “I knocked it out of the park.”

They continued, “I ended up getting first in intermediate quad. I was just on fire trying a bunch of stuff I had no business trying, but was somehow pulling it off. Sliding up and down A-frame rails. I was having so much fun trying stuff that felt a little risky, but I just wanted to have fun on these different skates and try it.”

That competition opened a door for Fisch, showing them a whole world of opportunity within quad skating. All thanks to a little play.

In their fluid approach to life there exists one constant rule for Fisch: play every day. It’s a practice they first cultivated with Kendama. “I’d found this great community of grown people that would get together and play. Sometimes at breweries. Sometimes at parks. We would just hang out on weekends by choice and play with a wooden toy in front of a bunch of strangers,” they explained.

“It’s this really wild thing as a person approaching 30 at the time, to be like, ‘I’m going to go play with my toys on the weekend.’ And that be something that’s brought me so much joy and so much expression. Skating has offered the exact same thing in various, higher risk ways. Obviously it’s far scarier to slide down handrails than it is to flip a ball in a cup.”

A bit of an understatement, but whether it’s kendama or skating, there’s undeniably a lesson to be learned in hobbies that consist of failing 99% of the time. As Fisch said, “I’ve heard a great quote about skaters. That skaters are always going to be alright in this world because we’re the people who try and try and hurt ourselves trying but, we believe it’s possible. And in the end achieve it and, if we’re lucky, catch it on video.”

“Obviously that translates really well into life when you believe that you can do something, you just may have to adjust between tries. That mentality has served me well in work. It has served me well in relationships. It has served me well across the board.”

Fisch’s comfort zone exists in the gray, the blurry, the edge between. So of course when they saw a binary split between rollerblading and quad skating, they had to mix it up. “The community is a little more divided than one would think,” smiled Fisch. “I’ve matched up blades with quads. I have a hardboot I put quad skate parts on and [I will] skate that in the park. I always get so many questions. It’s something I’m passionate about in the sport, [trying to] move in a direction where [crossover] is something that’s embraced.”

This willingness to experiment outside expectations has unlocked a whole new skill tree of tricks for Fisch, including a back torque on quads.

With play serving as a central pillar in Fisch’s life, it may come as a surprise that ‘playful’ is not one of the adjectives they strive for in their skating. “I like the look of effortlessness,” explained Fisch. “I try to approach skating with technical and clean as my go-to adjectives. I want it to look like I’m having fun, but landing technically. Locking technically. When I land and I’m rolling away, I want it to look a certain way. I want to create a good composition through and through: from approach to first lock to second lock, if it’s a switch up to landing. A seamless, flawless, execution. Clean and technical.”

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They expounded, “I’ve always loved a ‘no wasted movements’ type of performance. I want [movement] to fluidify. To quickly move from one motion to the next and not waste energy in between. With skating, I think about: what does the approach look like? How do I get there cleanest and have my feet in the right position? What switch-ups are going to intuitively flow between one another?”

“Sometimes you can feel the arm flare [out of place] or the way the legs lock is not going to get you to the end of a trick. It’s all that ‘no wasted movements’ mentality. I just love the natural flow of a trick if you move the right way at the right time. It’s almost like dancing when you see someone execute something so perfectly. That’s the vibe I want to go for with the way I approach and present my tricks.”

Striving for precision scratches an itch in Fisch’s “ADHD perfectionism brain” in a similar way to Kendama. “Sometimes my life will plateau, [but then] I’ll get a new Kendama [or skate] trick that day. I get a dopamine hit of: I did something good. I did something new. I achieved.”

Of course being in constant pursuit of new tricks means Fisch is always on the lookout for new spots. With their skate vision turned on, the city of Atlanta transforms into a world of endless play for Fisch. “I saw a bumper sticker once that said, I break for spots. I need one that says, I rubberneck for rails. I’m fixated on finding the first street handrail for me to go out and hit. Every church I’m looking closely at their handicap rails. I travel with a rub brick, spray lacquer, and wax in my car to turn things into spots if they’re not already.”

They continued, “What I love about street skating [is it’s] not how adults are ‘meant to play’. You’re working in a creative way to find different ways to interact with the space around you and make it fun. Make it exciting. Make it visually appealing on camera. There’s so much play that comes from seeing the world the way that a skater does. It breaks up the monotony of driving in Atlanta traffic. That play mentality zooms out into your whole world in a way where when you can keep your skates and a brick of wax in the car, the world around you becomes a skate park.”

They smiled, “I think that’s the coolest thing.”

Nix Fisch grinding rail with quad skates

Fisch’s creativity and grindset are readily apparent in their December 2023 skate part, Tricky. Skating around Atlanta in their signature hardboot quad set up, Fisch dances across rails with ease. Fisch hopes the part, and future planned clips, will serve as an inspiration to other quad skaters to give hardboots a try. “There’s a lot to offer with hard boots [in terms of] stability and support. I’m in the early days of figuring out what I could offer with my experience [to other people]. [How to] get them parts I’ve built for myself and support them in getting closer to skating the way I skate.”

Along with their hard boot campaign, Fisch is looking forward to the competitive season coming up in June. “We’ll have our local competition, Captains of Concrete,” said Fisch. “I’m excited and hoping Montre [Livingston] comes to compete again. One of my big goals is to be on the winner’s podium with him. If he’s there he’ll probably take first. But I’d like to take second or third next to him. That’s a really big goal year to year.”

Brand collabs and more video parts are all also on the docket for Fisch. But most importantly, they’re going to play. “There’s always been some form of play in my life, usually attached to some physical activity,” said Fisch. “The concept of play and putting yourself in a flow zone is part of my identity through and through. There’s got to be play at some point. [In skating] I’m constantly switching my set up and trying new things. [Putting myself] at the forefront of pushing what [skate] technology can do. [Because] as the technology evolves, the tricks you can do with [quad skates] evolve.”

A grin spread across Fisch’s face, “it’s a very cool thing to be a part of.”

ALEX FIG is the founder of Butter Mag, an online magazine that strives to highlight women and queer folks that you're reading right now. A casual outdoorist, she enjoys climbing, surfing, skiing, and skateboarding when she isn't reading.

ALEX FIG is the founder of Butter Mag, an online magazine that strives to highlight women and queer folks that you're reading right now. A casual outdoorist, she enjoys climbing, surfing, skiing, and skateboarding when she isn't reading.


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