Arts & Entertainment Editor
A flier posted in various places campuswide invites amateur skateboarders to come as they are, as long as they have a board and drive to ride.
“If you have a penny board, nickel board, longboard or even a Rip-Stik and want a good group of friends to ride the streets of Troy with, well then you’re reading the right poster,” reads the opening paragraph of the flier.
James Shipma, a freshman graphic design major from Huntsville, and some friends loosely organized a group of people that share an affinity for skateboarding and meeting new people.
“I kinda find it therapeutic, like, whenever I feel stuck in the dorm, or whenever I feel really bored, or if I have a lot on my mind, it’s nice to just skate around,” Shipma said. “It’s calming to me.”
Shipma said the group started with two fellow Shackelford residents skating a little here and there. He was inspired to invite other people when he noticed other Trojans traveling to class via skateboard.
Initially, he and friends approached people they saw riding. Shipma was inspired to advertise the group based on the notion that he couldn’t possibly eyeball everyone in person, so maybe he could reach more people by strategically placing fliers in more places that he might not necessarily visit regularly.
While the group is centered around a common passion for skateboarding, members say it’s more of a social group unlike other official organizations.
“I’ve met a bunch of new people that are similar to me,” said Jack Marquet, sophomore environmental science major from Birmingham. “It’s a fun way to hang out as opposed to doing what people normally do, like going to the bar or going to party.”
Shipma said he has received “decent” feedback from the flier, and the group has grown from three to four people to 12 people in its group message. The group has no preference for gender, class rank or prior experience.
“Skating alone, I feel like you get criticism, people look at you weird,” Marquet said,” but if you’re skating with a group, it gives you a place—makes you feel like you fit in a lot more.”
The group often skates on the quad, but also take its adventures off-campus into residential areas and, sometimes, main roads, which Shipma admits “isn’t the most safe thing ever.”
Shipma just began skateboarding with a penny board, which is a smaller plastic board, this past summer and upgraded to a longboard over Christmas break, which serves his purpose of going faster and cruising downhill.
“Pretty much anywhere the concrete is smooth, we’ll go,” Shipma said, or at least “smooth enough,” according to Brandon Upton, sophomore criminal justice major from Birmingham.
“If we’re feeling dangerous, we’ll find a steep hill to go down,” Shipma said. “It’s just fun to go fast.”
Wyatt Davis, a freshman computer science major from Madison, said part of the benefit of the group is deciding as a group where to skate, picking hills that might be fun to go down, warning each other of traffic or obstacles in the road and coming together for a meal, usually at Moe’s, afterwards.
While they’ve found several steep hills to ride down, one that sticks out in the minds of all the members is a hill fondly known as “thrill hill” located near downtown Troy in a neighborhood perpendicular to Three Notch Street.
Shipma said the group has considered approaching the university and making it an official club, but ultimately decided the group served its purpose best without university reinforcement—no rules, no commitment.
After a run-in with the cops for skating around town after dark without reflective gear, the group said they try to evade danger, but admit that falling often is just a part of the experience.
“As long as I’m here, and as long as I’m not injured, I’ll definitely continue to skate with all these guys,” Marquet said.
The group typically meets one to two times a week depending on everyone’s schedules and said they hope to find new members and more “spots” around Troy.
“It’s fun to do something you like; it’s even more fun when you can do it with other people who enjoy it,” Shipma said.
The flier with Shipma’s contact info, posted several places on campus, invites students to “let us know when you wanna go riding and we’ll do it. We’ll skate with anyone.”