by Tommy Slothower-Miner
When I think of spring term on campus, I think of skateboarding. Often, I can be found in the Andover Skate Park, skating whenever I have free time. At Proctor, there are many skaters and a BMX biker who utilize the park. The group is always changing, but skating is bigger on campus than people might think.
While some are “core,” or skaters that are into skate culture, and skate often, there are many skaters who dabble across campus. The kids who can shred might surprise you. Orlando Aponte, a kid often found
in the gym who can be seen around campus rocking basketball shoes and athletic shorts, has been known to pull a kick-flip or two from out of the blue. Eric Moores has been seen popping huge shove-its on occasion, and ex-skater Brett Kangas has also kick-flipped over the Wise Center steps.
Then there are the more obvious skaters, such as your author, who skate regularly. After a few months of skating, you can spot them by their worn out shoes and bruised bodies. It takes a certain type of person to be a skater. “You’ve really got to love it to stick with it”, senior Dylan Evans told me. There is an immense amount of commitment required.
In terms of gear and cost, it is demanding. Many kids are discouraged after breaking their first board or ruining their shoes. I go through a pair of shoes in about two months, a little more if I’m careful, a little less if I skate hard. I am a heavy kid so I also break boards regularly. Skateboarding costs a lot of cash - a typical pair of shoes costs about sixty dollars, and a typical skateboard costs around a hundred dollars.
Skateboarding is also physically trying. Bruised shins, ankles, feet and elbows are a trademark of skaters. Falling on a skateboard is easy, and if you fall the wrong way you will feel it. If you look at a skater’s ankles, frequently you will find they are bruised and swollen. When flipping the board around and trying to land on it,
often times an ankle will roll, or a shin will get banged up. It is hard on your body.
Mentally, I think skateboarding is one of the toughest things I do. In order to complete any trick, you have to visualize exactly what you need to do, and compare that to what you are doing. In order to build the muscle memory to land tricks consistently, you have to think out foot position, how to flick your board, and how to catch it to ride away.
It is a sport of failures. While learning a trick, it may take over fifty tries to land successfully. Even after you land a trick it takes many tries to be able to land consistently. Dealing with frustration is also a big part of skating, but it is also a very meditative process. Dylan said that he “almost immediately loved [skating] and wanted progress more and more, and from there it just became a sport that relaxes and fulfills me.”
People ask me all the time “Why do you skateboard?” Or, “How can you stick with that after trying so many times?” The answer is simple. The feeling of achievement after landing a hard-earned trick is euphoric. In my opinion, there are very few better feelings in the world. When talking to Taylor Weaver, a novice skater, she told me that it takes “Courage and confidence. You have to be able to bust your xss to get where you wanna be.”
The skater community is also one that is changing and welcoming. Often times a group of riders can be found outside the Wise skateboarding on, over and in front of the steps. “It’s my favorite shred spot on campus,” said Cody Sienkiewicz, a core BMX rider. As the lone BMX biker on campus, he often hangs out with skaters. Skateboarding brings people together. Games can be played on a board, too, such as SKATE, where the rider sets a trick and the others must land it.
Skateboarding is definitely not for everyone, and that shows by the number of people that have owned a board compared to the much smaller number of skaters. Keep your eye out for covert skaters around campus, and maybe even try out a board yourself.