When the pandemic began, students were hungry for opportunities to leave their dorms and go outside. With the GIAC closed and limited opportunities available for recreational activities, avid skateboarders Silvan Sookstan ‘21 and Valentina Zavala-Arbelaez ‘21 grabbed their skateboards and got together to kick flip around campus. Thus, Haverford’s Skate Club was born.
“Skateboarding was something within compliance of COVID protocol that could possibly attract many just to get out of their rooms after sitting through a long day of Zoom classes inside,” said Jose Rodriguez ‘22, the current club head. “I took charge of it when I saw that it was starting to fall apart this fall. What motivated me was seeing a lot of people—more than 40—sign up for the club during the Club Fair and I just felt like I couldn’t let go of something that Silvan and Valentina worked so hard to make and that has gained a huge amount of interest.”
Now with over 60 members, Skate Club is a community where students can have fun, meet new people, and learn basic and advanced skills. Every weekend, members meet either at VCAM or on College Lane in front of the Duck Pond. The club provides members with skateboards via their Board Share Program, as well as equipment, encouragement, and advice for pulling off different board tricks. In the past, the club has partnered with the VCAM Maker Arts Space to host workshops at which members could customize boxes and boards. They are looking to host another workshop for members to fabricate their own ramps.
The club has some other exciting plans for the future. “I want the club to get to a point where we can have opportunities to provide for skateboarding as well as roller skating, freeboarding, and longboarding,” said Rodriguez. “Eventually, we could possibly make an event next semester where people who are more experienced in the club can compete and others in the Haverford community would be welcome to watch—including snacks, food, and drinks for the spectators. This may prove a little difficult, but it may well eventually be possible after gathering more obstacles by next semester.”
Above all else, Skate Club is a safe, nonjudgmental environment for skaters of all skill levels, beginners and experts alike. “Skateboarding can often be an awkward sport, especially when you’re alone and starting for the first time— it can be very daunting and even discouraging,” said Rodriguez. “Unfortunately, I know many that feel this way and choose not to skateboard even though they’d really enjoy it and do similar sports—snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, roller skating, surfing, etc.!”
While skateboard culture has been associated with delinquency for some time, Rodriguez is happy to see more acceptance and appreciation of the sport. “It has become an Olympic sport, it has gained more and more attraction and the weight of prejudice and intolerance for skateboarding and its culture has slightly lifted, along with more and more people wanting to try new things,” he said. “Skateboarding is built upon perseverance, dedication, and the friends you make along the way, skills that are applicable to anything you do in life and that you can take with you to your next job, relationship, or any task at hand. It’s not only a great and fun exercise for the body but also relies heavily on exercising the mind—building upon mental preparation and dedication to growth while always aiming to do your best. Join Haverford Skate Club and become part of the change!”
If interested in the club, you can register on Engage and contact Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You can also follow the club @skateclubhc on Instagram to stay updated about meetings and learn helpful skateboarding tips and tricks.