Walking down a sidewalk on Concordia campus, it is not unusual to see a skateboarder or longboarder whiz past on his or her way to class. This mode of transportation is a unique and fun way to get moving, but can also be quite a challenge to those just learning how to longboard.
Although boarding may seem intimidating to beginners, friendly faces all around campus are willing to help out and offer a few tips.
“Learn to fall,” sophomore Bobby Person said.
This idea may seem scary, but wearing protective gear can help to lessen any injuries.
“There is a site called theiantilmannfoundation.org that gives free helmets to those who promise to wear them every time they board,” senior Lars Watkins said.
The parents of Ian Tilmann created the Ian Tilmann Foundation after he passed away from a skateboarding accident. This site is especially useful to those who do not have the finances to buy protective gear.
Those who consider learning how to longboard or skateboard should be cautioned first.
“It’s becoming a fad and it’s not actually that easy. You benefit from starting early too,” junior Philip Rossin said.
The best way to learn is to first find a good stance, then learn to push and stop.
“Start in a parking lot or somewhere with flat ground,” junior Chris Lundquist said.
Also, before going out and buying a longboard, ask someone who already owns one to try out theirs.
The sport is no more dangerous than any other; there is always risk of injury when doing any physical activity, but wearing proper protective gear can help to avoid most dangers. Not everyone is made for boarding, but it can be very rewarding with the confidence that is gained and the ability to travel in a new way.
People choose to learn how to board for different reasons.
“My brother was into longboarding and bought me my first longboard,” Watkins said.
Others have started boarding because of friends who enjoyed it or found it to be similar to snowboarding and a good alternative in warm weather. Lundquist has been skateboarding since he was in the third grade and has done it religiously ever since.
Boarding is not just a way to get from class to class either; it is quite a workout.
“You need stamina, and once you get sore you just can’t stop. It will get better,” Lundquist said.
Just like any other activity, it gets better with time and practice.
“Learning how to manage the different kind of muscles in each leg can be a challenge. Your legs can get sore in different places,” Rossin said.
Some of the biggest challenges for boarders are getting over the initial fear of falling, not having brakes and watching out for traffic. That is why it is best to practice in open places like a spacious parking lot.
Once the basic skills are mastered, there are many new challenges that boarding can present to people with a competitive side.
“There is a brand of longboards called Loaded that encourages longboarders to get better at the sport. They post YouTube videos of tricks, and if you film yourself doing those tricks they will give you money towards a new longboard,” Lundquist said.
Another active group for longboarders is called Outlaws, which holds a few different competitions and races in Minnesota each year.
“I’ve been to some with about 80 people there,” Watkins said.
Outlaws is one way to meet other boarders and stay active.
With boarding, some people may assume that they will encounter conflict with other civilians based on the reputation that skateboarding and longboarding have gained in the past. Skateboarding was popular for being an anti-authority activity in the ‘90s.
“A lot of people think everyone on a board is a punk,” Person said.
Boarders are trying hard to stop these negative views.
“We try to be good ambassadors to skateboarding and wave or talk to people in residential areas,” Watkins said.
Friendly little reminders like this to other sidewalk and street users can be an easy step towards acceptance for those who like boarding.
“I made the case once that we’re not any different than a biker,” Rossin said.
Some women may feel discouraged from boarding by the seemingly male-dominated longboard culture on campus. For those women who are afraid to be one of the few, the number of female boarders is growing.
“When I see female longboarders, it’s like, ‘Way to go,’” Person said.
Although it may take a while to become proficient at tricks on longboards and skateboards, some of the best components of boarding are the simplest.
“I like to just cruise,” Rossin said.
Cruising along the sidewalk on a warm day can feel very refreshing.
“My favorite thing from experience is the fact that I know I have complete confidence in myself with my board,” Lundquist said.
Kaia Miller is a senior majoring in communication studies and multimedia journalism. She came to Concordia planning to major in vocal performance, but after a semester discovered her interests ran in a different direction. With a suggestion from her mom to try communication, she realized her passion for journalism and research. She has held internships at MPR and Prairie Public Radio and hopes to work for a newspaper or radio new station.
Kaia is a member of the Concordia Choir, The Concordian and KORD Radio.