CC on Wheels: Exploring Skating Subculture

Written by Sophia Skelly

Photo above: Overflowing board racks in Worner. Photo by Daniel Sarche

My brief stint with skating came to an abrupt halt when I accidentally launched my brand new skateboard into my street’s rain gutter. Nevertheless, I still spent my tweens sauntering around in sharpie-checkered vans and watching Dogtown and Z-boys repeatedly on my mom’s computer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always quietly admired skate culture for its screw-it attitude and reckless spirit.

Here at Colorado College, you can sit virtually anywhere on campus and hear the thunk of wheels on the pavement. Whether it’s rollerblades, skateboards, longboards, pennyboards, or scooters, this student body has a fondness for an array of transportation methods. I’ve heard everything from passing comments about board sizes—“That longboard is a literal boat”—to a drunken altercation culminating with a girl yelling, “Your penny board is stupid!”

I was curious if there was a deeper meaning behind these comments. Is there a hierarchy of boards? Where is the most treacherous area for skaters? Is there a skate culture in the Springs? I took to the class Facebook pages to find out.

I found that most people ride for sheer convenience. Daniel Walsh is a first-year who rides a skateboard with big wheels—half longboard, half skateboard. While Walsh claims he has no big aspirations in regards to his skating career, he loves having a board on campus because he’s able to roll out of bed at 8:50, grab a granola bar, and skate over to class.

Expediency is also paramount to sophomore Carl Anderson, who eschews riding his bike on campus, stating that locking it up takes too long. He prefers riding his scooter, which he has owned since his sixth birthday. I asked Anderson if he has experienced any camaraderie with the other scooter-riders on campus. He shrugged and said, “No, not really. But whenever I see scooters in Worner, I’m like yeah…scooters.”

First-year Leo Brasuel practices skateboard trick outside of Mathias Hall. Photo by Daniel Sarche
First-year Leo Brasuel practices skateboard trick outside of Mathias Hall. Photo by Daniel Sarche

Other students, however, really are working to hone their skating skills. Devin Holbrook tries to get to the skate park in the Springs once or twice a week. He prefers skateboards with wider decks, but just recently started riding “the modern popsicle deck.” Holbrook started skating “vert” in his sophomore year of high school. So, while his friends could do tricks such as ollies, grind rails, and kick flips, he focused on skating really fast in empty pools and doing lip tricks. For Holbrook, being able to find joy in skating is what he values most. “I hope to continue to skate until I’m old and beat,” he said. Holbrook admires skateboarding pioneers like Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, and Christian Hosoi, citing that that their sense of style and ambition to skateboard is what really gets him excited to skate.

Sophomore Mary Loftus echoes that sentiment. “It’s so good for the mind-body connection to be able to get to a point in an activity where you are expressing yourself as deeply and uniquely as possible,” she said. New to skateboarding, Loftus stated two major reasons for learning how to skate. “I just want to encourage more women to try stuff like this whenever they feel like it. They don’t need to be good…my whole life I’ve asked myself why people always had to tell me that girls can’t do things like skating, playing football, or other male-dominated skills. F*** that. I will always do what I want.” Second, Loftus wants to be able to freestyle in as many mediums as possible, including snowboarding, juggling, yoga, and percussion. When I asked her if she perceived any hierarchy on campus according to what you ride, she said “there is so much judgment on campus…but people on campus should ride whatever makes them happy and comfortable.”

“I don’t feel any judgment when it comes to skating at CC, though a lot more guys skate than girls,” said Emma Herrick, also a sophomore.

Noelle Edwards, who competes in snowboarding competitions around the world, said she has also had trouble finding other female skateboarders at CC. Edwards first got into skating because it was the go-to mode of transportation in mountain towns. While she has only skated off-campus at Memorial Park, Edwards stated that “there are definitely some hidden gems on and around this campus for skaters.”

As for the penny-long-skate-board debate, Mary Loftus concluded that “boards are boards, and boards are fun. And so are scooters and rollerblades.” As for me, I plan on sticking to my ambulatory ways and admire skaters from afar, as they bomb down the hill next to El Pomar or bump along the crosswalks.

The trees on campus are now gray and barren, and the days are getting shorter; it’s only a matter of time before our sidewalks ice over. But for now, I will continue to relish in the chorus of sounds that students’ wheels make on the pavement.

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