He jumps, runs and swings. Kids point and stare. Gabe Rivera doesn’t care.
And as for the people who think he’s weird?
“I never really wanted to be normal; you don’t have to like it.”
He picked the right sport.
Rivera, known to many as “Ninja Gabe,” performs a French sport called Parkour, described by Rivera as “the art of movement from one point to another.”
This sport involves being as efficient as possible going from point A to point B. Tracoeurs, or people who perform Parkour, utilize many different moves. Some of these moves are the cat crawl, in which the athlete climbs on all fours, or the dyno, involving the traceour jumping and grabbing an object from the ceiling, such as a bar or rope and then swinging to the intended destination.
Rivera, after seeing Casino Royale, became instantly hooked. The movie has a scene with Parkour -founder Sebastain Foucan, performing the sport he was credited with inventing.
“He’s an amazing athlete,” said Rivera. “I definitely look up to him.”
Rivera, although he dislikes the idea of being “normal,” hopes to attract more people to the sport. Rivera enjoys Parkour because it is more laid back in terms of competition, but still “physically demanding.” Rivera would know, saying, “About a year ago I tore the cartilage in my right knee trying to do a flip.” When asked if he could still do one?
“I probably could still do one, but my doctor wouldn’t like that.”
When asking students about Rivera, many called him “weird,” and “hardcore Parkour (mockingly).”
After learning more about Rivera, Will Franzen, sophomore, said, “I didn’t understand his sport that well, but now I definitely have more respect for him.”
Rivera’s teachers have no problem with him. Senora Long, Spanish teacher, said, “He’s a really nice kid; he draws a lot and really loves art.” When specifically asked about Rivera’s interest in Parkour, Long seemingly had no issue with it, “as long as he’s doing it safely.”
Parkour is not your every day run of the mill sport. Rivera described what he does as “more of an art.” Competition is not encouraged by most tracoeurs, Rivera included. “It’s nice because no one can be the best.” Although there is a group of tracoeurs who want to hold competitions, there is a large resistance to that idea. The main reason for the resistance is that it goes against the foundation of the sport, as Rivera alluded to previously.
Although some may see Rivera as strange, no one can fault him for doing what he loves, something everyone at Leesville should hope to find.’