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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Campus club AZ Push rolls into new semester

    Rebecca Marie Sasnett
    Rebecca Marie Sasnett /The Daily Wildcat Liam Morgan, senior, free rides on his longboard next to the UA library Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. Toeslide Pendulum slide, Heelslide Pendulum slide, Coleman slide, Pivot, Kick flip, Peter Pan and Ollie are some of numerous moves that can be done on a longboard.

    For members of AZ Push, a mainstay longboarding club at the UA, skateboards are much more than a way to get around.

    “We really try our best to teach everyone how to skate safe,” said computer science junior Austin Paine, president of AZ Push. “We teach everyone how to respect the hills and the people who live on the hills, so everyone in the Tucson community — even when we’re not here anymore — can continue skating there for as long as possible.”

    People walking through campus on Monday or Wednesday nights might encounter a swarm of longboarders cruising the UA Mall or sliding around the brick hill on the west side of the UA Main Library — that’s probably AZ Push on one of the club’s biweekly skate nights.

    Anyone on a board is usually invited to join the session on the spot.

    “You can become a member at any point throughout the year,” Paine said. “Paying dues at AZ Push allows you free entry into any of our three events. Otherwise, the events [each semester] cost around $5.”

    A paid membership also affords members discounts at Starr Skates, a local skateboard shop.

    According to club treasurer and microbiology senior Manuel Pompa, this semester the group plans to hold a slide jam. Slide jams are competitions in which skaters slide at speed while wearing special gloves to protect their hands as they drag along the ground.

    The club also plans to hold a downhill race and possibly a scavenger hunt, but “we haven’t decided on a third event yet,” said Paine. “It might be a push race again or a best trick contest or who knows what.”

    Other than a skateboard, there aren’t any requirements for joining in these events. Some members even offer to let people without a board borrow their extra equipment.

    Winning an event with AZ Push usually yields a fine prize, considering all the club’s sponsors, including Rayne Longboards, Sector 9, Landyachtz, Daddies Board Shop, Holesom Longboards and more. Winners of AZ Push’s races or scavenger hunts sometimes find themselves with a new deck, set of wheels, shirt or stickers.
    Members can also join in on long-distance skate trips.

    “Four or five of us went out to California [last year] and pushed a hundred miles from Santa Barbara to Venice Beach,” Paine said. “For spring break, we’re planning to do another trip.” For the next trip, Paine hopes to rent a van to get out to more spots, he said.

    AZ Push also does its part to help out in the community.
    “We always try to do a philanthropy event every year,” said linguistics senior Andrew Alejandre, former AZ Push president and UA alumnus.

    “Last semester, we had a downhill race that was a charity event,” Paine said. “Instead of a cash entry fee and a cash prize, we did a can of food entry fee. Everyone donated cans of food, and we gave away a prize to the people who brought the most.”

    Mostly, though, the club is all about skating — and skateboarding comes with certain risks.

    “There’s been a couple accidents,” Paine said. “There hasn’t been anything too terrible, luckily. Just lots of road rash … It comes with the territory.”

    AZ Push has always prioritized safety, encouraging members to wear helmets, even though some don’t follow the club’s advice.
    “As soon as the locals see we’re wearing helmets and protection and gloves, they see we’re not just crazy kids and that we really do care about our lives,” Paine said, “even though it may not seem like what we’re doing portrays that.”

    For anyone new to longboarding, Paine advises just cruising around a bit to get used to it.

    “Once you’re comfortable cruising around campus, you can start to hit some bigger hills,” he said.

    His other advice: “Join AZ Push.” To do so, drop by the Nugent building at 8 p.m. on any Monday or Wednesday during the semester to meet the crew. No skills are required.

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