It has become a common sight to see Shepherd University students cruising on their longboards throughout the campus and town.
The activity of longboarding has grown in popularity while I have been a student here since 2010. At that time, longboards were few and far between, but it has become a trend that seems to have swept across campus this semester.
Longboarding is the sport and hobby of riding a long skateboard that ranges from 24 to 80 inches in length, according to the Beginner Longboarding website. It has its roots in surfing, and that is why many longboards you may see students riding around campus resemble surfboards. Livestrong.com notes that there are currently four types of riding styles for longboarding including transportation (cruising), slolam, freeride and downhill.
Longboards are surely exciting to ride for fun, but they are also excellent modes of transportation. This is often evident at Shepherd as there are countless students who can be seen riding through campus and dragging their boards into class.
Slalom is a discipline of longboarding that involves weaving in and out of obstacles. The freeride discipline puts a focus on tricks, slides and grabs. Additionally, the downhill or bombing discipline of longboarding is the most common but most extreme version of longboarding in which riders go down long hills at the fastest speeds possible.
Wes, a freshman at Shepherd and a longboarder, said that his “favorite part of longboarding is riding down the steep hills in town.”
Shepherdstown, with its many hills and sloped roads, is tailored perfectly to this style of longboarding. On the other hand, many of the local roads and sidewalks are old or in poor condition so this can pose a danger to those who longboard.
Longboarding continuously rose and fell in popularity until the mid 90s with the rise of snowboarding and skateboarding, and it has been going strong ever since. Skateboarding itself remained the most popular for a long time. However, starting about five years ago, longboarding began creating a following and has continued to grow.
The rise in longboarding popularity has become apparent here at Shepherd with so many students riding boards.
“When I got to Shepherd, I started longboarding. I saw a lot of people around campus riding so I thought I should try it,” Isaiah Wakefield, a freshman student, said.
“I tried it, and I mastered it in two weeks. The other reason I decided to pick up longboarding was so I can get around town,” Wakefield also said.
“Theres a difference between skating and longboarding. I wasn’t that great at skating but it was easy for me to learn how to longboard.”
I was curious why he and so many other students at Shepherd enjoy riding their longboards throughout the campus and town. “I longboard because its exhilarating. It’s just a risk every time you are at the top of that hill and when you decide to go down. But a lot of people love it and there are so many fun hills to ride down around here,” Wakefield said.
He also added, “my favorite hill to go down is the one in front of the Ram’s Den. I enjoy it but so many people have hurt themselves on it so I would say go down it at your own risk.”
The longboard has made a dramatic entrance onto the Shepherd campus in recent months, and it will be interesting to see whether its popularity continues to rise among students.
When you ask someone what is their favorite part about riding a longboard, they will typically respond with “the rush” or “going fast.” There is nothing wrong with that,but it can also be used for so much more. They are an excellent source of exercise, and riding a longboard is a great way to get around.