Skateboarding provides students with a sense of community and culture

About a year ago, freshman Charlie Molitor watched the film Mid-90s for the first time.

The movie—which was released in 2018—follows a young kid growing up in Los Angeles, California as he is integrated into a group of much-older skateboarders from his area. Through a communal focus on a shared passion, the collective simultaneously experience a coming-of-age sprinkled with violence and pain.

For Charlie, this film acted as the catalyst to what would become his future hobby: skateboarding.

“[The movie] was pretty cliché, but I thought it was cool,” Charlie said. “I got a skateboard, and I was like, ‘I’ll just try it out.’ I sucked at first and really didn’t get used to it until two months in. I’m [still] not super great, but it’s just a lot of fun.”

Since his introduction to the art of skating, Charlie has been slowly but surely improving his skills and fine-tuning his tricks. Six months ago, he landed his first ollie and kickflip—two moves that have opened his horizons to not only the sport itself, but also the habitat and attitude it is enshrouded in.

Skateboarding is not currently nor ever has been the simple act of hopping on a board or learning a few tricks. The music, art, and connections that stem from its study are often the most poignant aspects of participation—and most certainly the parts that are highly sought after.

“Skating opens you up to a lot of new opportunities,” Charlie said. “Even though it is really cliché to say, it is a culture. I meet someone else who skates, and if they’re a decent person, we’re really close afterward. You kind of have to experience it to know what I’m talking about.”

Much like highlighted in the film that sparked Charlie’s introduction, skateboarding has acted as a safe space for a myriad of people looking to direct their passions towards a specific hobby.

Furthermore, Charlie has found a landing ground inhabited by like-minded individuals by getting together with other skaters and growing closer over a shared avocation.

“It’s really easy to make friends, because you bond over a mutual love,” Charlie said. “You don’t meet a lot of people who are jerks. Everybody is chill.”

It is this same solidarity that drew senior Cam DeWitt to skating.

Starting at a relatively young age, he began practicing and perfecting his skills. Yet, he did not truly devote himself until COVID-19 pushed him to find comfort and normality in other, less stereotypical ways.

Skating opens you up to a lot of new opportunities. Even though it is really cliche to say, it is a culture.”

— Charlie Molitor

“I always thought skateboarders were cool when I was younger, so I started learning when I was about nine years old,” Cam said. “I didn’t really get into it until quarantine or so, and then after that, I started taking it more seriously.”

In the same vein as Charlie’s journey to skateboarding, Cam began learning as a subject of the passionate and often all-encompassing culture surrounding its participants. Yet, what he has found past that facade is a group willing to lend a hand or be a friend any time he may need it.

It is that comradery that has kept him going.

“It’s important to have some sense of community with the group,” Cam said, “just to feel a sense of belonging and have people that you can rely on.”

Circumscribed in a net of utter harmony and patience, Cam has found skate culture to not only be a home, but also a teacher of important life lessons. Poise, tolerance, and humility are all pivotal skills that pop off the page of the skateboarding user’s manual—skills Cam finds himself using in his day-to-day life as well as while at the skate park.

“Just be patient with it,” Cam said. “I had to do the same thing, and it’s definitely important in regards to applying those life skills that you learned from skating.”

Freshman Emerson Burrow’s skateboarding history is similarly laced in friendship with a tinge of grit and determination.

After Emerson’s fellow freshman and good friend, Jack Rutherford, moved to Michigan in fifth grade, the two hung out together to try and test out Jack’s new skateboard.

However, Emerson was secretly harboring a minuscule secret that was bound to get in the way of their dual skateboarding session.

“It was a Thursday. I always remember that it was a Thursday,” Emerson said. “We skated after school for like an hour, and I told him that I was good at skating even though I had never skated before. I assumed that I was going to be good, but I ended up falling.”

Looking past this minor inconsistency, that day acted as the pushing-off point for skating and its relevance in Emerson’s life. Ever since then, he has been dedicating his energy to learning and mastering the many beginner’s and challenge tricks that he may one day need to pursue the sport professionally.

And along the way, Emerson has been finding purpose even in his failures.

“[Flip tricks were] some of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done in my life, but at the same time, it was extremely rewarding to have that get unlocked,” Emerson said. “You work for something so small, but at the same time, it’s such an impactful feeling that it pushes you to not stop skating.”

By immersing themselves in this realm, all three skaters—and many more—have found a space where hard work and passion are rewarded in friendships and lessons learned. Yet, most of all, skateboarding is an activity that provides endless opportunities to those willing to put in the work.

“Skating is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it’s so incredibly hard not to give up and just quit,” Emerson said. “But it’s all worth it in the end.”