For Zach “Ducky” Kovacs, skateboarding, one of the more distinct sports, is second nature.
Kovacs, a Cal State Fullerton business and marketing major, has been skateboarding since he was three years old.
He is ranked as the 380th best skateboarder in the world, according to the global skateboard ranking website, The Boardr. Being a professional skateboarder has taken Kovacs all across the country since 2013, competing in 27 street-skating contests. He has finished in first place three times during the Zumiez Best Foot Forward finals in Los Angeles and Seattle.
“I think as a little kid, you always dream about this. I wanted to be like Tony Hawk, I wanted to be like Bam (Margera). You’re taking it seriously but at the same time, you’re kind of just doing it for fun,” Kovacs said.
Kovacs’ mother heavily contributed to his love for skateboarding and even started hosting local skateboarding events for children in their community for four years due to a lack of contests in their hometown of Modesto.
“My mom was a little more hands-on as far as wanting to know about the culture and everything,” Kovacs said.
She made sure that both Kovacs and his younger brother gave 100 percent of their effort in whatever they set their minds to.
Kovacs was making noise in the skateboarding industry even before he turned pro.
In October 2017, Thrasher magazine made Kovacs one of the central focuses in its “Am Scramble” section where the publication highlighted amateur skateboarders on the rise. The publication has also featured Kovacs in multiple montage videos displaying his fearlessness, taking on huge gaps and handrails.
“Knowing Zach has been an interesting ride. He’s got a good heart and puts himself out there in the best way,” said skateboarding photographer Jacob Romero in a text.
Being a pro skater comes with its fair share of injuries, and for Kovacs, it was no different. When he tore his ACL last year while skating, he had to take several months off to recover from knee reconstruction surgery and intensive physical therapy.
“I didn’t skate for eight months. But I definitely didn’t lose passion … I was really itching to get back,” Kovacs said.
The rehabilitation process has been smooth from the start, and he said he is starting to feel stronger than he has ever felt before.
“You learn so much about your body and about muscle groups. I have core strength that I used to not really have,” Kovacs said
Kovacs heavily praised CSUF’s Health Services for its physical therapy and sports rehabilitation center, as well as athletic trainer Nathan Longcrier for the work they put in throughout his recovery.
“He’s been a crazy help as far as preparing me mentally and physically for skating. It’s a good positive environment,” Kovacs said.
Kovacs is on track to finish his degree in fall 2018 and is interested in pursuing a career in business, graphic design or marketing, just as long as he can do something that’s not a 9-to-5 desk job. Whatever career path he chooses, he hopes to have enough time to continue to skate freely.
He has a considerable social media presence with over 24,000 Instagram followers. Kovac posts each week and continues to see rapid growth and engagement on his page. Even though Kovacs sees success in his social media accounts, he doesn’t care about the exposure like many others would, as he enjoys keeping a low profile.
“(Instagram) makes it easier to where you don’t need a brand to promote you,” Kovacs said.
Kovacs also rides for the skateboarding brand Pizza Skateboards, even having his own model of skateboard decks for sale on its website.
“The future of skateboarding for him will be an endless ride of progression. He has always excelled at everything he’s applied himself to,” Romero said in a text.
As he continues to work his way back from injury, Kovacs plans on taking the skating scene by storm once again.
“Everything’s been kind of scary, but it’s been really fun because I’ll do something I haven’t done in almost a year, and it’ll just be such a good feeling,” Kovacs said.