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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Skating is more than a way to travel on campus, students say

The Student Center Plaza is a hot spot for Skating.  It's long been viewed as a counter culture, but that is changing. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Student Center Plaza is a hot spot for Skating.  It’s long been viewed as a counter culture, but that is changing. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Between the two student centers, in the heart of campus, students will hear the rhythmic clacks of skateboards gliding over concrete, and the crashes of the hard wheels against the ground after jumping over the stairs.

Kelis Woods began skating in his freshman year of high school after watching a cartoon called “Kick Buttowski: Surburban Daredevil.” In the show, Buttowski was a kid daredevil who did impossible tricks on a skateboard in hopes to be the best daredevil ever.

The show began Woods’ fascination with skating. Now, he skates every day, for hours a day, and his Instagram is comprised mostly of videos of him skating.

“He was a rebellious character that defined all of the rules,” digital media junior Woods said. “Mostly, he was known for his crazy stunts that he attempted everyday. Adrenaline, desire, and fear led me to chase the same feeling I got from watching that show.”

The University is a hot spot for many Houston skaters, who come together to make up an unofficial community.

UH skaters usually spend their time skating between the two student centers where there are stairs, railings and a ramp, all of which makes it a prime spot for skaters.

“It has amazing stair sets,” said architecture freshman Jetrin Vongsouvanh. “It’s just the spot. There’s so many things I can do. As soon as I came here I was like, ‘I can hit that, I can hit that, I can hit that.’ It’s crazy.”

As an incoming freshman Vongsouvanh did not find out about the UH skating spot from seeing others use it or finding it for himself, but was told by other Houston skaters. 

“In the skate community there’s word of mouth,” Vongsouvanh said. “Instagram posts, like ‘yo check this out this place has amazing stair sets.’ ”

Not everyone who skates at UH is jumping over stairs and gliding over rails. Psychology freshman John Muhamad started skating a month ago as a way to get around campus and is learning how to do tricks.

“I always thought skating was pretty dope, but I never could get into it because I was afraid of injury and all that stuff,” Muhamad said. “I needed an excuse to buy a skateboard and travel campus, and I didn’t want a longboard. So why not get into skating now?”

Skating offers a community and a freedom few other activities do, Woods said. Many skaters share videos of them skating to Instagram, like Woods, and practice frequently in skate parks where, often, the same people will come back to hone their skills.

“I love the community in skateboarding. Everyone who skates is connected, we are just one big happy family. I’ve met some of my closest friends through skating,” Woods said. “Skating is just about having fun, falling, getting back up, and falling again.”

Vongsouvanh agrees and says his and his friends’ lives center around skating.

“I got my best friends skateboarding, that’s all we talk about now. Most of my friends who are skaters are people who are in the same realm because of the culture we’re in,” Vongsouvanh said. “It translates into what we want to do in life and how we approach things in life and our mindsets.”

Vans, Thrasher and Supreme have flooded the mainstream fashion culture, with articles and Instagram gurus showing you how to perfect the ‘skater’ look.

Those in the skating community have mixed reactions about their clothes being popularized and worn by many who have never touched a skateboard in their life.

“Skateboarding is getting more out there, getting more open to people who want to try skateboarding but then there’s people who want to just use it for fashion,” Vongsouvanh said. “That’s where I’m king of like, ‘ugh.’ ”

More than skating fashion, but skating itself is becoming more integrated with mainstream culture. Skateboarding will make its debut as a sport in the 2020 Olympic Games, which will take place in Tokyo.

New skaters should not let the thought of injury scare them, Woods said.

“The people who don’t skate are afraid to skate,” Woods said. “They fear falling or trying new things. But I get it, I’ve been there.”

The skateboarding community is welcoming, Vongsouvanh said. He believes anyone can skate and said he has even seen blind skaters. He encourages those new to skating to not let their fear hinder them.

“Don’t feel intimidated if you go to the skatepark and people look at you, they’re just dumb. They all started where you are at, don’t feel bad,” Vongsouvanh said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or what disability you may have.”

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