:::: Photo By Mandela Huff ::::
IN THE VAST AND EVER-EVOLVING REALM OF social media, the phenomenon of going viral has given birth to numerous internet sensations. One such sensation is the enigmatic skater known as “Push.” With his mesmerizing roller-skating moves and charismatic presence, Push has captured the hearts of millions worldwide. However, beyond the glitz and glamour of internet fame lies a story of passion, family, and an unexpected profession that has shaped the life of this Atlanta native.
The journey of Push began around three to four years ago when a video of him roller-skating effortlessly at Cascade Skate Rink in Atlanta exploded on Twitter. Within a couple of hours, the video amassed a staggering 2 million views, and in just a few weeks, it skyrocketed to 29 million. The video featured a group of women from Memphis, cousins and best friends, who happened to record Push’s performance, unknowingly igniting his path to internet stardom.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Push, whose real name is Kyle Dutcher, had been skating since childhood. It all started during his summer daycare days when he would visit the skating rink for field trips. However, it wasn’t until he faced a personal struggle, divorce, and the responsibility of being a single father to his young daughter that he rediscovered his passion for skating. With a newfound determination, Push delved into the world of adult skating, immersing himself in the diverse styles that Atlanta’s melting pot offered. “At first all I did was watch other people skate and then the last 30 to 40 minutes of the night, I’d skate” he reflects.
Across the nation, different regions showcase their unique skating styles. “ Different parts of the region skate differently. Chicago’s JB style [characterized by skating to stepping music], Ohio’s soulful moves, and Detroit’s wheel-sliding and big stoppers, each city has it own distinct style”. Push considers his style a culmination of these influences, making Atlanta a mecca for diverse skaters.
Despite being one of the few white skaters in the predominantly African-American skating community, Push faced few issues. The skating culture embraced everyone who shared a passion for the art, creating a close-knit family where people supported and encouraged each other. Push cherishes the camaraderie and refers to his fellow skaters as his “skate fam.” “I Love running into my skating family. We see each other in the store or at a light and scream, ‘Yell, hey skate fam’”. It is this sense of community that strengthens his bond with skating and inspires him to keep pushing new boundaries.
However, beyond the glimmering lights of skating stardom, Push (Kyle) has another surprising passion – tree-climbing which happens to be his ‘9-to-5’ job. In an entirely different realm, Push works in the tree service industry. He co-owns SCS Tree Services based in Woodstock, GA. He has been a profession for 15 years. With expertise in diagnosing and cutting trees, he treats tree surgery as an art form, akin to Mr. Miyagi’s meticulous pruning of bonsai trees in the movie Karate Kid.
Behind the dazzling moves and magnetic charm of Push lies a personal battle with severe anxiety caused by acute Tourette syndrome. Push’s journey to success has not been without challenges, and his triumph over this condition is a testament to his resilience and determination.
Tourette and PUSH
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. These tics can be sudden, repetitive, and difficult to control, often causing significant distress and discomfort. Push was diagnosed with the condition at the tender age of 14, which added an extra layer of complexity to his life.
Even amid the spotlight of his rising internet fame, Push faces the constant struggle of managing his anxiety. His Tourette can cause tics to worsen, especially during moments of nervousness or heightened stress. He shared an incident on his way to an interview where his nerves kicked in, triggering a series of tics, some of which affected his breathing. “Today on the way over here, I felt my anxiety and breathing get short. I am good now but I did feel the tics”. It is a reminder that behind the confident persona lies a person facing his own internal battles.
Push has encountered others with more severe cases of Tourette, including the wife of one of his employees. This firsthand experience with different levels of the condition allows him to empathize with those who share similar struggles. It is this empathy that strengthens his connection with others, both on and off the skating rink.
He likens Tourette to having an itch that cannot be satisfied with a scratch. It’s an apt analogy that captures the relentless nature of the condition, its unpredictability, and its ability to influence various aspects of his life. Despite this constant challenge, Push’s commitment to his passions, including skating and tree-climbing, remains unwavering. His story is a reminder that each individual carries their unique battles, and it is through perseverance, empathy, and passion that we can rise above adversities.
Push’s profound connection with nature and the earth has instilled in him a belief in grounding oneself by walking barefoot outside. This outdoorsman’s approach to life guides him not only in his tree-climbing endeavors but also in his skating. Both activities require a deep understanding of one’s surroundings and the ability to harmonize with nature’s rhythm.