What skateboarding means to students on campus

Imagine the sensation of skateboarding down a massive hill as the wind blows through your hair and vibrations flow through your feet.

Guilford students are attracted to skateboarding for many reasons, but what keeps them on their boards is the feeling of conquering a grueling course or landing a challenging trick.

“It’s rewarding once you get that trick or run down,” said sophomore Timmy Barrows. “You just feel good after a long day of skating.”

Several students began skateboarding during their early teenage years. Since then, their skating abilities have improved as they test out different boards and tricks.

“I started skateboarding because I watched skate videos growing up, and it was really inspirational seeing those guys progress,” said first-year lacrosse player Nick Nesbitt. “I wanted to do the same stuff.”

Skateboarding is not only an alternate form of transportation, but it is also a great way to burn calories.

“It’s a good leg workout,” said junior Danielle Mathias. “At first it takes a lot of focus because if you’re not balancing your body weight correctly, or looking where you’re going, then you’re going to crash into a tree.”

The majority of college students are on the go, so owning a skateboard cuts down on transportation time.

“I don’t actually know how to get to class on time,” said sophomore Faith Gaines. “So having a skateboard is awesome.”

Whether alone or with friends, skaters relish the kick-push whenever they get the chance.

“I ride whenever there’s a free opportunity,” said Nesbitt.

While Guilford’s campus is not the ideal location for skaters, many paths gradually decline, providing boarders a breezy ride through campus.

“My favorite hill is at the library, because it’s one of the highest points on campus,” said junior Cameron McDowell. “You can coast all the way from the library, past the mail room and all the way to the apartments without any effort.”

While there are no skate parks located near Guilford, neighborhoods off-campus are becoming a popular destination for those who seek the thrill of a hill.

“Recently we’ve been riding across the street on Arcadia Lane,” said sophomore lacrosse player Ian Wiesenberg.

“I ride in groups with the soccer team,” said junior soccer player Rob Sandidge. “There are probably eight or nine players with boards, so we’ll go off campus together and skate.

“One time we rode around for three miles just finding hills to ride to pass time.”

Longboards seem to be preferred, as they are the best for riding on rough surfaces such as the bricked paths on campus.

“Skateboards are really cool, but I feel like they’re only applicable to smooth surfaces,” said McDowell. “Longboard’s wheels are bigger and have looser trucks, so it’s easier to ride on difficult terrain.”

But it is not always a smooth ride; wipeouts do happen.

“One time, I was riding in the old apartments, right by a big rocky ravine, and I bombed down the hill and jumped 10 feet forward,” said Nesbitt.

Luckily he did not get injured.

Others have not been as lucky, walking away with battle scars.

“Both of my elbows look like they have birthmarks on them, but they’re actually scars,” said Barrows.

Only a small number of female students skateboard, but Gaines encourages women to give it a shot.

“More girls should skate, because it’s really fun,” said Gaines. “But I think they should wear appropriate shoes when they do skate.

“If you’re going to skateboard, do it for real.”

Skateboarders build community through riding in packs, strengthening friendships and skills as they encourage each other to improve.

“From what I’ve observed from the skateboarding community, they’re competitors as well as motivators,” said sophomore Kaitlin Sullivan. “They’re competing against one another but they also want each other to do better. It’s competition, but it’s also solidarity.”

For some, skateboarding is simply a hobby, for others it is a way of life.

“Skateboarding changed my life,” said Barrows. “It got me outside doing something productive. It allowed me to explore new places and meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I don’t know who I would be if I didn’t know skateboarding.”