Skateboarders often seem to be viewed as troublemakers and even drug users by society. I am friends with many skateboarders and wanted to see how they felt about being put into this category by people who do not know them.
I took a trip to the Lewisburg skate park where I met with a 19-year-old boy named Dakota Reed. Dakota stands at 5 feet 10 inches and has long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He is a student at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. He is an Art major as are many of his other skateboarding friends. He said skateboarding is an art itself. Most people would not view skateboarding as an art, but it truly is. He had me watch as other people did the same trick, and I noticed how each person had a different style to throwing their trick.
If people looked deeper into the skateboarding community they would find people filled with passion and commitment, not just drug users and kids looking to stir up trouble. Outside of the skate park I noticed a sign: “No alcoholic beverages, drugs, or loud music.” I asked Dakota how he felt about this and he explained that he said he did not understand why signs like this were not located outside other public parks.
“Skateboarders are not all bad, there are some who participate in drug use but, there are also football players that use drugs as well and no one seems to look down on them,” Dakota said. Does it him that people likely view him as a troublemaker? “People can think whatever they want, I know I’m not and that is all that matters,” he said.
The skateboarders at the park that day ranged in age from 5 to 30, and I soon realized how welcoming and friendly they all were. None of them was there to cause trouble; they were all there to do what they love.
With so many younger kids at the park you would think the older skaters would get annoyed, but that is not the case. The older skaters just let the younger ones do their thing and stay out of their way. Mostly, because they were in their shoes at one point; Dakota said, “It’s a fun sport and a great way to express yourself. You just cannot get discouraged if you do not pick up on it right away.”
You truly have to love this sport to become good at it. People were attempting new tricks, some would land them right away and others would not; but that did not stop them from getting up and trying over and over again until they got it.
There was talk among the skate park about a new concrete park being built in Danville, Pa. According to Dakota this will be the closest concrete park in the area. “This is great that they are putting a park in Danville,” he said.
Dakota is a Danville native and said he has been asked to leave parking lots many times for skateboarding in them. Also, skateboarders are not allowed to skate on the sidewalks; so this park is perfect to keep the younger kids, which are not able to drive to Lewisburg, off the streets and out of trouble.
Local police often watch the skate park in Lewisburg and I asked Dakota if he thought this was fair; he explained that he understood why, because there will always be some that are causing trouble, but he wishes that they did not think of him as one of those people just because he is there.
Most of the skaters are even working towards a college degree. Three of the skaters at the Lewisburg Park are attending Pennsylvania College of Technology, one majoring in Art Studio and the other two both majoring in Graphic Design.
All are hoping to end up working in the skateboarding industry, whether that is being an art director or skateboard photographer. All also say it would be awesome to become a professional skater but if it does not happen, working for the industry is just as good.
After talking to and observing Dakota and the other skateboarders I feel that most of them are great people. The majority are not skating to cause trouble they are just doing what they are passionate about and what they truly love. I’m not saying that there are not bad people that skateboard, but skateboarding is not what makes them a bad person. Dakota was right when he said that there are some football players out there that are not “good” but no one really seems to say anything about them. I think it is wrong for anyone to judge anyone, not just skateboarders, before taking the time to get to know them.