Skateboarding Club Brings New Life to Skating Culture

Cole Anderson

Photo by Jade Blake-Whitney

There are clubs to satisfy most any hobby and passion at Whitman, but for the skateboarding community, a small but tight-knit and enthusiastic group, the idea to create a formal club hasn’t been much more than just an idea. This year, however, a group of passionate skaters has taken the initiative. With everything in place and only a final proposal to go over with ASWC, a skateboarding club at Whitman is almost a fully formed entity.

“The idea of a skate club has been kicked around since I was a freshman. I don’t think we can attribute the idea to one person. It was just a notion that was in all of our best interests,” said junior Zach Gordy.

Some of the members of the skate club are also members of other clubs, and participation in these clubs prompted the creation of a skate club.

“A few of us are on the snowboard team, which uses ASWC funding to go on trips to competitions, so we had talked about starting a skate team before. We had toyed with the idea for a while, but one day Riley [Hernandez] just filled out the paperwork and did it,” said junior Tom Shellum.

In previous years, those on campus who love to skate typically just got together frequently throughout the week and skated at various spots around campus and in the Walla Walla area. That group has always been rather small. With the advent of a club, not only will there be more of a collective effort to establish safe and viable spots to skate; there will be an opportunity for more students to either learn a new sport or hone their skills further.

“We already had a skate listserv so we could organize skating together and driving to the park, but having it be a club allows us to do things like be in the Activities Fair in the beginning of the year to find any first-years who skate. It will also hopefully allow us to travel to some competitions in the eastern Washington/Oregon area,” said Shellum.

A presence at the Activities Fair will help the club, as it will generate interest among first-years immediately.

“We have not done much advertising, and not many people on campus skateboard. There are probably 10 of us maximum at any given time that skate. Hopefully this club also can serve as a beacon to get people to start skating,” said Gordy.

This comes at an ideal time as well because, as of late, Whitman has become stricter about where skateboard enthusiasts can skate.

“I am glad it happened this year because of how much Whitman has been cracking down on us. Historically, as long as we did not grind any ledges, we were allowed to skate on campus. This year that has all changed. Hopefully the club, and our activities through the club, are able to change policy on campus and provide us with a convenient and safe place to skate,” said Gordy.

Funding is also a big draw for skateboarders, as most of the terrain they ride is natural or already built, and they are left to improvise with what is already available.

“I’m just looking forward to us having the money to build a mini-ramp and put it out by the quad porch [at the TKE house],” said senior Max Reikosky.

Photo by Jade Blake-Whitney

And there would potentially be funding for things like broken boards and boards available for new members to try out.

“Funding for our hobbies is probably the most important aspect. There is a certain level of trick or terrain difficulty one is willing to skate without fear of breaking your board and having to buy a new one; they are very expensive,” said Gordy.

But money is not the primary reason for the club’s inception by any stretch. The main goal for the more involved members is creating an organized club that can draw more than a few students each year and have a positive interaction with the rest of the Whitman community.

“Our motivation right now is to try and help the community –– to create something more permanent than just a bunch of friends that skate together,” said Gordy.

For all the members of the club, Whitman’s recognition of their favorite hobby and sport is extremely meaningful. Skating isn’t just an activity they partake in, but a lifestyle that defines their personality.

“Skateboarding is dancing with a piece of wood on wheels. It is a medium with which I can tell jokes, the punch line being either a smooth getaway or a trip to the pavement. It plays the same role any sport would play. It gives me the opportunity to hone my coordination, balance and willingness to take risks,” said Reikosky.