Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

42° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Skaters find home on campus

When Northwestern closed off Sheridan Road for Friday’s Homecoming parade, members of Shred, NU’s first skateboarding group, rode for about 30 minutes in the empty street before the parade began.

“It’s the novelty of skateboarding in the streets, just being able to go as fast as you can without worrying about the cracks in the sidewalk,” said Shred co-founder Henry Petrash, a McCormick sophomore. “You can only do this once or twice a year.”

The ride down Sheridan happened less than two weeks after Petrash and Medill sophomore Andrew Lo decided to start Shred. They hope to bring together students who love to skate and teach their peers new skateboarding tricks every Saturday afternoon to practice in a laid-back atmosphere, Lo said.

“A big incentive to join is, it’s something that’s going to make us all better,” Petrash said. “When you’re meeting on a weekly or semi-weekly basis, you won’t do the same tricks week after week, and it’s really neat to have a bunch of friends who appreciate what you’re doing.”

The group currently skates around campus, and Lo said the club will plan field trips to indoor skating parks when the weather becomes colder. There are a few local skate parks, including one just south of downtown on Lake Shore Drive, and a few skate shops, including a large one in Wicker Park called Uprise Skateboard Shop, Lo said. The group also plans to coordinate skateboarding competitions with prizes for top participants.

“Skating has become a big part of my life,” Lo said. “If someone lands something, everyone cheers. I want it to be a community of people just having fun and enjoying the feeling of skateboarding, landing a trick, going fast and cruising down the hill.”

Petrash said the group needs 25 signatures to be recognized by the Associated Student Government. Being recognized will allow the group to reserve parts of campus for practice and provide equipment for club members during skating sessions.

“For me, the biggest deal would be to subsidize boards for beginners and build some equipment,” he said. “Given some funding, we would be able to buy some club boards for beginners and give them an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

About 10 students attended the club’s first meeting last Saturday to discuss places to skateboard and practice their skills at a skate session.

McCormick freshman Tommy McNeela said he decided to join the club – his first at NU – to meet other people who skate and improve his skateboarding skills. He began skateboarding when he was younger and started longboarding two summers ago.

“The main purpose is to hang out, skate and have a good time together,” he said. “It’s fun by myself, too, but it’s so much more fun when a group of people get together and skate.”

He said it’s safer to skate in a group and he encourages his friends to wear helmets.

“In a group, if someone happens to get hurt, you have people to help you out,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what style you’re doing – regular skateboarding or going off ramps – you don’t want to hit your head if you fall.”

Tiffany Marshall, who’s been longboarding for about five years, said she joined the group to meet people who share her interests and to learn how to shortboard.

“I see people riding by on the sidewalk sometimes and thought it’d be cool to meet them,” the Weinberg junior said. “You can do more tricks with shortboards.”

Medill sophomore Amber Sasse said she brought her longboard to campus as a way to get to class. She said she hopes to learn how to slide using her longboard.

“I miss out on all my friends and just going skating,” Sasse, a four-year skater, said. “When I saw the club, I saw it as a way to meet people who enjoy the same things I do. Other people can push you to try something new, do something you wouldn’t normally do or stop you from doing something stupid.”

Lo said skateboarding has become a universal activity, with participants across the United States and even with some competitions in Chicago.

“There’s definitely a scene here in terms of longboarding,” he said. “We’re trying to get involved.”

Reach Kristin Ellertson at [email protected].

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Skaters find home on campus