Let the good times roll: Skating surges in popularity among students

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By Ruijia Yang, Staff Reporter

The rolling of the wheels and the scraping sound of the board against the pavement is a familiar, comforting sound for many skaters as they cruise around their towns and neighborhoods. Passerby turn their heads back to watch them roll by, carefree and effortless.

Skateboarding and roller skating have made a comeback this year with social media influencers getting teens hooked on the 90s inspired throwback. ’Stoga students did not hesitate to follow suit and join the trend. The rise of skating was largely due to the coronavirus shutdowns, with more people trying to find new hobbies with all the time they had. It has become a fun way for all kinds of people to get exercise and enjoy themselves while working on a skill.

Sophomore Vennela Tummala has been roller skating since third grade, and recently started skateboarding over quarantine after witnessing the rise in popularity. She started by taking roller skating classes, and later joined an artistic roller skating team on the New Jersey shore. She participated in intensive practices with her all-girls team once a week, practicing skills and routines in preparation for tests and performances.

“(Roller skating) was one of my first sports when I was younger… and (skateboarding) helps me calm down and relax and have fun when I don’t have people to hang out with,” Tummala said. 

Professional skaters and influencers played one of the biggest roles in bringing back skating. Junior skater Julia Roth was inspired by Nyjah Huston, a professional skateboarder who was expected to compete in the 2020 Olympics, wanting to learn the tricks he could do. Roth started skating at eight years old until she stopped when she was ten. This year, however, she picked it back up again over quarantine. She enjoys skateboarding because it helps her unwind and relax.

“It’s very freeing… you can just let everything go when you’re doing it, just focusing on your board, your feet.” Roth said, “It’s definitely made me happier… when I’ve been having a rough day I just go and sort of forget all my issues for a little bit.”

Skating isn’t always easy, but figuring out how to do difficult tricks helps many skaters with confidence. Junior Andrew Wang has been learning to ollie, which is a challenging but primary skateboarding skill, even though he is still a beginner. Wang says that even though it’s hard to improve and learn tricks, once he succeeds, the hard work is worth it.

“Sometimes I get really frustrated. Like, there is a learning curve…Now, I just got over the first kind of hump with learning to ollie, ” Wang said, “It’s pretty nice to be on this end.”

While many skaters want to directly skip to learning impressive skills, Roth believes that starting out is the most important and hardest part. Getting the mechanics down and getting comfortable on the board was the priority, and from there, she can figure tricks and moves out. However, she thinks the skating community wasn’t always very welcoming, which results in a lack of camaraderie among skaters for beginners. This could make newer athletes feel ostracized, turning them away from the sport.

“I do wish that there were more skate groups, because I think (skating) is kind of hard and really intimidating to get into,” Roth said, “if you ever go to a skatepark most people just sort of keep to themselves, which is fine, but sometimes you want to joke around with some people and you can’t exactly do that.” 

However, not all skaters agree. Tummala’s roller skating team allowed her to bond with others and become part of a community. She also believes that most of the skaters she passes by are friendly and supportive.

“I’m finding random people on the streets that are skateboarding at the same time…and then they usually stop by and ask how you’re doing,” Tummala said.

Skating is the new way to get active and pass time at home, while learning techniques to impress friends and family. Especially during these times, it is the perfect escape from reality that many have already taken advantage of.