Longboard’s Invade Olkahoma University
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Class starts in three minutes and the South Oval is still crowded with pedestrians running awkwardly with their heavy backpacks and bikers frantically trying to get their bike locks to work. Longboarders cruise around everyone, picking up their boards and walking into class, not worrying about locks or parking spaces.
Longboarding has become one of the most popular ways to get around campus. More and more students have started using longboards as an alternative to walking and bicycling. Danny Nguyen, philosophy sophomore, started longboarding last year and fell in love.
“I used to have a bike, but it got stolen,” Nguyen says. “Longboards are great because they are on you at all times, you don’t have to worry about chaining it up and you look cool.” Nguyen says he feels there was a need to unite all longboarders so he started the Student Longboarding Association.
Nguyen and his organization are responsible for the longboarding lane that appeared opposite the bike lane on the South Oval during fall 2011. This creative stunt was more effective than Nguyen imagined. Pedestrians avoided the hand-drawn chalk lane, making going to class even easier for longboarders. Besides the longboarding lane, the Student Longboarding Association hosts maintenance workshops for boarders to come and work on their boards together. The club has encountered some problems with attendance. Nguyen says that this has more to do with personalities of longboarders and not lack of interest.
“You can’t make longboarders come to anything,” Nguyen says. “It’s like running a bunch of free spirits.”
Although longboarding is a male dominated hobby, several women have started longboarding, too. Angela Vann, a freshman from Norman, learned how to ride a longboard at the beginning of the school year after her boyfriend convinced her to try. “I have grown to love longboarding,” Vann says. “It helps me relieve stress. When I am on my board I don’t think of anything else.”
Vann says she’s received many strange looks while longboarding down the South Oval. She says this might be the reason that she has only seen one other female longboarder on campus. To help fight back against these strange looks, she is encouraging other women to give longboarding a try.
“If it’s something you want to do, you should try it,” Vann says. “You shouldn’t let what other people think limit what you do. You might find that you like it or even love it.” Like Vann, Nguyen hopes more women start longboarding. He has been keeping an eye out for the “really hot girl,” rumored to be longboarding around campus. Most students still walk, but many pedestrians have considered learning how to longboard, including Nate Sethman, a freshman from Stillwater. “It is a really unique way to get from one part of campus to the other,” Sethman says. “It is our generation’s version of the bike or the scooter.” Coming from Stillwater, Sethman had already experienced longboarders before he got to Norman. He was surprised at the number of students that use this mode of transportation, however.
“I knew this was a very big form of transportation a couple of years ago,” Sethman says. “I thought it was going to be a fad that just passed through.” Sethman has changed his mind and says the trend has many more years to go. Unfortunately for Sethman, his lack of coordination limited his attempts at becoming a longboarder.
For longboarders, crashing appears inevitable. Nguyen was involved in a crash with a cyclist who left with a bloody nose. Nguyen says the most challenging part of longboarding is controlling yourself in large crowds and making sudden stops. Vann also had a dramatic crash in front of a lot of people as she slipped off her board on the South Oval. Nguyen said he hopes that people don’t let crashes discourage them from learning to longboard, however. His advice to people thinking about learning? “Don’t give a fuck about how you look.”
Written By Patrick McSweeny