Longboarding club

Jake Cochran

Jake Cochran, Sports Co-Editor

Think about a roller coaster, the unstable feeling, the uncertainty mixed with excitement of zipping up and down the track, closing your eyes and feeling the world pass you by, the wind whipping through the curves of your ears causing a sound that is completely indiscernible but universally understood.

It means speed, it means uncertainty and it probably means you’re going way faster than you’re intended to go.

Now take away the safety of the seatbelt. Take away rails on the track. Take away the seat on the cart and stand up. Take away the guard rails on the sides. Replace the wooden beams with asphalt and earth beneath your feet, the board and wheels. Most importantly, take away the brakes.

Left just standing on your board going down the hill at speeds more than 40 miles an hour and now without the convenience of brakes it’s time to execute a slide stop.

“So basically, try to get the board sideways to create friction,” is the method Tauri Phillip senior marketing and management major and president of the Longboarding Club uses when he is found in this situation.

“Over time it wears the wheels down, but it’s the only way to stop so,” Phillip continued, “it’s either try to do that and not fall too badly or just keep going until a car hits you or just the end of the road.”

Left with such glamorous fates of the collision with a car or the road ending, it’s understandable why the slide is the go-to choice of longboarders. But Mike Sawka, president-in-training and a junior mechanical engineering major, was a little bit more creative about his means of stopping.

“The best way is to just run it out and try to carve it,” Sawka said describing the stopping process. “Push the wheels out so it causes friction and uses up the momentum, but if you don’t have anything you just have to find someplace to bail.”

The bailing process is basically just as it sounds, abandoning ship and hoping for the best, Sawka illustrated it as “like you just try to run and then you fall on your face, but it has to like grass, very soft grass.”

But there’s far more to longboarding than just going down huge hills like, Giants Despair and the Wilkes-Barre Golf Course. The group has participated in a few distance pushing races, most notably the Broadway Bomb.

The race takes place in New York City, during rush hour traffic. It starts at 116th street and ends at Wall Street, and the legality of the race is somewhat debatable. Phillip said, “there’s no police block off, it’s actually illegal.”

But the Phillip continued idea that, “It’s still 10 miles, but there’s about 3,000 skaters, so they figure if 10 people get caught its OK.”

Phillip described his experience as hectic, but he also experienced a large degree of success during this race, coming in 35th overall amid the numerous competitors in the sprint through traffic.

While Phillip remembers his experience with a degree of nostalgia, some of the other club members think of the race in a different light. Rob Sebia, recruitment director and senior history and political science major, mentioned the president’s tendency to get hit by cars.

“Tauri has been hit by cars three times,” Sebia said, and emphasized, “yeah, the club president has been hit by cars three times.”

When Phillip spoke about the incident during the Broadway Bomb, he described it as, “Actually, one taxi cab got really angry at me and ran me into another car.

“At first I was, like, should I stop and yell at this guy, but then I was, like, ‘I’m in a race.’”

Phillip has had great success in many of his events in the past summer. He placed second in two events in New York.

“I did a 6-mile race in 23 minutes. I didn’t check the time on the other one, but I got second place but it was 10 miles.”

With the scratches, bruises, broken bones and collisions the club members still think of the sport fondly. Sebia said the club has been a bonding experience and noted how close they have all become.

Sawka echoed his sentiments, saying his favorite moment in the club is “the fact that we have someone to go out with and have a great time.”