Longboarding: an underdeveloped community at Brock

W hat do McMaster, Ryerson, York and the University of Toronto all have in common that Brock is missing out on? No, the answer isn’t that it they’re less than an hour away from the big T.O., even if that is true. It’s a Longboarding club!

That’s right, Brock University is yet to assemble a longboarding club despite the obvious interest in it on campus. In the fall, spring and summer, it isn’t hard to take a look on campus and see a rider enjoying some of the wheel-to-pavement excitement that longboarding has to offer. Whether they are out on a joy ride or just commuting between classes, there is a large presence of longboarders on Brock’s campus and it’s time they get a community of their own.

Longboarding was first developed in the 1970’s but remained a rare, ulongboardnderground sport until recent years. Whether it was the prominence of the newly-formed internet allowing people to connect and get the word out or Sector 9’s mass production of boards in the early 90s that caused longboarding to become a mainstream part of the Millennial and Generation Y culture is irrelevant. The important thing now is that we accept and cherish it like the many other parts of this era’s culture. The best way to do this is to provide an opportunity for riders to meet up and share in their love for the sport and the subculture that was born from it.

“Longboard communities are popping up around the world, in big cities and small campuses,” said Ryan Rubin of Longboard Living, an online longboarding store. “When a community is formed, riders can go on regular rides, determine the best places to ride, teach each other basic skills or new tricks and create a hub for new riders to get involved. Longboarding is a sport that you can enjoy by yourself but it is amplified when shared with other people. The learning curve is very progressive and all you need is an open mind, basic balance and confidence.”

When human beings share a common interest, it is normal for them to desire sharing that interest in a community. This has been no different for Brock University in the past and present. In addition to that, like-minded communities can have many benefits for their members, which is something that holds true for longboard enthusiasts as well.

“Brock’s student population would definitely benefit from a longboard club,” said Rubin. “It would allow existing riders to connect with each other, create protocols for riding on campus, determine a regular riding schedule and act as a resource for new riders. Longboard communities are often groups of like-minded people who gather to share their passion for boarding.”

The benefits of riding can stand on their own as well. It is not hard to see why so many have fallen in love with the longboarding phenomenon. As Rubin explains, it is no surprise that the student population, in particular, has taken to longboarding so well and have claimed it as part of their identity.

“For students, the major benefits of longboarding include saving time, getting exercise, improving balance, exploring new areas, pushing your physical limits, clearing your mind during study breaks, and connecting with other riders,” explained Rubin. “Longboards are very portable and easy to carry into buildings. Longboards can take you from the bus stop or parking lot to your classroom. There are lots of ways to incorporate a board into your daily commute.”

Benefits aside, there is always another factor that taunts the student conscience when it comes to trying new things or even making day-to-day decisions: money. There are plenty of students who will avoid healthy diets in preference of the cheap, psuedo-nutrition offered forth by TV Dinners and dehydrated ramen. How is longboarding any different?

“It is possible to get an entry level, used board for under 100 dollars while a new one would cost about 220 dollars,” said Rubin. “Longboards are more cost effective than a bike and more convenient than roller blades. The best part is the feeling you get, similar to surfing, while riding between classes. There is no better feeling than showing up to class super stoked!”

So, the argument could be made that the decision to take up longboarding as a means of transportation is a win/win situation. However, that still leaves many would-be riders left in the dark on where to start. Luckily, as Rubin demonstrates, all you have to do is ask.

“Dropped Decks and Mini Cruisers are the best style of boards for students,” said Rubin. “Dropped Decks are one inch closer to the ground, making them easier to push. They are usually made out of Canadian Maple, making them very stiff and stable. Their length ranges from 36 to 42 inches which allows for a nice shoulder-width stance. Mini Cruisers range from 27 to 32 inches, which is similar to a traditional skateboard but their wheels are soft and they roll smooth. Because of its shorter length, the Mini Cruiser is a very portable and agile board, making it great for weaving in and out of people, going around tight corners and bringing it into class.”

Brock is home to a large population of longboarders, a fact easily noticed by just walking around campus on a sunny Fall day. Whether it’s the ideal nature of Brock’s campus layout that makes it appealing to longboarders, or perhaps the steep hills of St. Catharines and the rest of the Niagara peninsula that makes Brock so attractive for riders, it stands true that riders are drawn towards Brock. Glenridge Hill itself is a longboarder’s dream.

This interest was noticed and expressed by Rubin while looking back on his experiences at Brock’s most recent Vendor Fair. Longboard Living had a table set up at the fair looking into the interest of Brock students in longboarding. Whether they rode or not, and whether it was something they were interested in or not, and so on.

“After attending the Vendor Fair, we noticed about 10 people with boards on campus and another 10-20 who have a board at home,” said Rubin. “We talked to a lot of students who are keen on learning to ride and over 100 students entered our raffle to win a board we are giving away in association with BUSU. When people see others riding boards it makes them want to try. It’s almost infectious in a really cool way”.

In spite of the popular support that Brock University has for an organized longboarding community, there is yet to be a longboarding club established on campus. However, that is not how things need to be.

As members of the student body, we have control over the clubs we have on campus through BUSU. So, if you are a longboarder and you feel like you and your fellow riders would benefit from a community on campus that celebrates the longboarding cultural phenomenon then the onus is on you to ratify one through the Brock University Student’s Union.

Longboard Living is a longboarding storefron Llivingt and online store that is devoted to the longboarding way of life. Their Kensington Market location is located at 202 Augusta Avenue in Toronto and is known for serving the both the Toronto and Niagara regions. Ryan Rubin from Longboard Living has been longboarding since he was 15 years old and it has been a large part of his life ever since. For more information on Longboard Living or to check out their store visit their website at longboardliving.com.

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