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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Campus skateboarders face obstacles

    Hailey Eisenbach
    Hailey Eisenbach / Arizona Daily Wildcat Skateboarders skating around campus.

    Dying of heat exhaustion here in Tucson is more fun than a slow death by television. So grab your skateboard and head to UA to make the best of your summer, where you may just run into some professional athletes who make our empty campus their playing field, or fellow amateur skaters who can take advantage of a less congested campus.

    “Just put on some sunscreen, get some water, you’re good to go,” said Grant Callaway, store manager at Starr Skates, who has skateboarded for 15 years. “It is a good idea to wait until the sun goes down [to skate]. You’re less likely to get skin cancer.”

    Callaway has a point. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that AZ skin cancer rates, excluding melanoma, are some of the highest in the world. And yet, skateboarders still face the brutal AZ sun every day. Some skateboarding companies even bring their teams through Tucson in these sweltering months, simply to collect footage on a college campus that’s free of college students.

    “You get the urge to go skateboarding, you don’t want to wait a couple hours,” Callaway said. “It’s fun. It’s the best activity you can participate in, regardless of the weather.”

    Skateboarding isn’t always fun, though, and not because of the heat, occasional slams or broken bones. The University of Arizona Police Department is notorious for its enforcement of no-trick rules on campus property.

    It’s even harder when the UA campus is littered with spots, some of which have found international recognition as proving grounds of sorts. One of these locations is the gigantic stair set on the north side of the Eller College of Management, where skateboarders like Birdhouse Skateboards pro Aaron “Jaws” Homoki, a Phoenix native, have thrown themselves down the massive gap for the sake of capturing it on video. Homoki’s huge heelflip was featured in the “Happy Medium” skate video, a milestone in the Arizona skateboarding community.

    But Callaway, a Tucson native, hasn’t skated UA campus “in a while, because it’s a bust,” he said. “You can’t even go up a curb — you have to keep all four wheels on the ground, you can’t do anything. You can’t even turn around. Just trying to get out of the way of somebody, that can be seen [by UAPD] as ‘hot-dogging.’”

    However enticing an empty UA may be, Grant’s aware that some skateboarders, amateur or professional, head to campus because police might ease up on the patrols for the summer. But according to UAPD public information officer Sgt. Fil Barrera, police patrols remain constant throughout the year, save large sporting events and other special gatherings on campus.

    Barrera said officers do not specifically target skateboarders, but will respond to called-in complaints. However, Sgt. Juan Alvarez said the rules are not as strict as Callaway said they are. For instance, he said jumping up and down curbs is OK, so long as it is only for the purpose of transportation — just not trying kickflips or lipslides down any of the rails or stairs on campus.

    Callaway’s personal experiences do not reflect Alvarez’s previous statement. Many skateboarders are stopped by UAPD officers throughout the year as a result of dropping off curbs to avoid pedestrians. So no matter the season and no matter what skaters read, they ought to be on the watch for police while on UA campus. Getting caught could mean losing a $140 board to the UA impound, a citation, or even an arrest.

    “Keep an eye out,” Callaway advised his fellow skaters. “Don’t stay in one spot too long, keep moving. … Go do another trick, go to another spot, go get something to eat. Just stay out of [UAPD officers’] sight.”

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