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Longboarding originated from surfers on the west coast of America wanting to “land surf,” and has increased in popularity in recent years. Kirby Dukes, junior music industry major, started longboarding last semester and said it was something she always wanted to do.
“I was afraid of trick boards and have seen boarders breaking their legs,” Dukes said. “I researched longboards and thought, ‘cool, I’ll do that instead.’” Since Dukes was ten, she has looked up to professional skateboarders Tony Hawk and Bucky Lasek, who inspired her to get into the sport. Dukes lives on campus and uses her board as her primary mode of transportation on campus. She said she also uses it when she goes downtown.
“It’s really convenient and doesn’t take much energy to use,” she said. “I can take it in a store and don’t have to worry about locking it up. I hop on it and go.” Being a longboarder on campus isn’t all coasting down hills and feeling the breeze in one’s hair. Dukes said she almost collides with students on a daily basis. “It’s kind of annoying,” she said. “You go down that hill towards the library and the board goes faster, and everyone has headphones on and it’s hard to stop.”
Dukes said the faster she goes, the more at risk she is for harming herself and others. “I literally push people out of the way. I start yelling and when push comes to shove I have to shove,” she said. A fellow student longboarder, Jamon Harvell, sophomore mechanical engineering major, has had the same problem with close collisions on campus as Dukes. “It’s usually when somebody’s not looking at me,” Harvell said. “I almost hit about two or three people a day.”
Derek Myers, deputy director of public safety at police services, said whether students are biking, roller skating or skateboarding on campus, as long as you’re doing it in a safe fashion, it’s okay. Harvell said when’s he’s riding his board, he’s going to take it wherever he goes, in class, the store, the UC, anywhere. “I basically get looks like, ‘Is he serious and did he really bring that into class,’” Harvell said. “I just get awkward looks basically.” Dukes also brings her board alongside her whenever she goes into classes.
“If my seat’s against the wall, I set it there and sometimes I put it under my feet,” she said. “It’s kinda like a backpack, and I use it all the time. It’s like a part of me.” Bob Barnett, director of The University Center, said people are not allowed to ride roller-skates or skateboards inside The University buildings. He also said he thinks there might be a policy against skateboarding on campus, but is unsure and did not have documentation on hand yesterday.
Ron Hale, the owner of Cheapskates, the oldest and only full-service skate shop in Memphis, has been riding longboards for 26 years now and said this is the greatest year he’s seen for longboarding. “It’s picked up quite a bit over the last year,” Hale said. “Because of popularity in other parts of the country and it migrated here.” Hale said longboards can get up to 20 to 25 mph on flat ground. Cheapskates sells their longboards for $140, completely ready to roll around town.
Hale went to The U of M in 1983 and said it was necessary for him to use his board to get from class to class without being late. “You have to watch out for cars and trains. I’ve never had accidents,” he said. “When you’re an accomplished boarder you know how to skate around people.”
Written By Chris Daniels