NU Skate Club aims to make an inclusive space for skaters on campus

Naomi Gizaw skateboards on a sidewalk on campus.

Source: Division of Student Affairs

Weinberg sophomore Naomi Gizaw skateboards on campus. NU Skate Club had its first meeting during Winter Quarter.

Jessica Ma, Reporter

For the NU Skate Club, Northwestern’s campus is a cement playground equipped for ollies, manuals and kickflips. 

Weinberg sophomores Naomi Gizaw, Logan Fosu and Gabby Perkins started the club at the end of Fall Quarter. Gizaw said it’s a welcoming place for all skaters to come together regardless of skill level.

“You do not have to know anything about skateboarding to be a part of (the club),” Gizaw said. “It’s just supposed to be a community of people who just want to (skate).”

The three advertised their club through social media and were surprised by the influx of responses. At the first club meeting on Jan. 28, members got to know each other. 

But skating can get expensive — a quality skateboard can cost around $170, according to Skating Cult. Gizaw said pricing can be intimidating to people who are just starting out, but the club wants to make skating more affordable. 

“We don’t want it to feel like you have to have so much money to spend on a board (or) be able to afford being a part of this club,” Gizaw said. 

The club has come up with creative ways to cut costs, like contacting local skate shops to buy used boards for cheaper. Members also lend board parts to those who need them. 

In the club’s GroupMe, Communication sophomore Ben Cummings offered to donate his extra set of bearings, which are small circular pieces that allow the wheels to spin. 

“A really cool thing about the Skate Club is definitely just the crowdsourcing (of) all these different parts for people who maybe can’t afford it or don’t want to get into it,” he said. 

Students have also had difficulties with accessibility to skate parks. Although Evanston plans to build more skate parks with input from local skaters, there are not many parks near campus. 

Instead, street skaters like Communication freshman Mahan Malhotra practice in parking garages. In the club, Malhotra is working on building a skate box to practice tricks with. 

“We were like, ‘Why don’t we just make our own that we can just keep at Northwestern?’” he said. “It’s just easier for us to access.” 

Gizaw said the NU Skate Club is a space for skaters of all identities. Skating has been viewed as a traditionally white and male dominated sport, but well-known skaters of color like Briana King are reshaping skate culture across the globe, she said. Gizaw, who looks up to King, said she wants the club to be an inclusive environment. 

As three Black women, Gizaw, Perkins and Fosu said they try to make the club as open as possible. Fosu said she hopes their roles in the club can challenge the exclusivity surrounding skating. 

“If I were in other peoples’ positions, especially as another Black woman, and … I saw people like me running this club, it (would be) less intimidating,” Gizaw said. “In that sense, it’s made it easier for people to join the club without the fear of being judged.”

Members look forward to the future of skating on campus and beyond. Fosu said she wants the club to be a sustainable community, even after she’s graduated. 

Cummings noted skaters tend to gravitate toward one another out of their shared love for skating.

“Skating is inherently this communal thing,” Cummings said. “There’s something very celebratory about it.” 

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Twitter: @jessicama2025

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