Combine some great friends and one extreme hobby. These ingredients make up the longboarding crew.
The group consists of Jeff Mooney, Ryan Ledlow, Chris Whitehead, Pancho Gutierrez, Matt Day, Kevin Ramirez and Ty Humphries and others. The guys can be found riding most often in parking lots at night, where they maneuver their boards with grace and the occasional spill.
The longboarders are not in an official club, but they are a group who know how to have fun. They ride all over campus and even at nearby parks.
Senior management major Jeff Mooney enjoys longboarding because it replicates surfing.
“It’s different from skateboarding because the board is built for higher speeds,” he said. “It’s more about fluid movement, like surfing or wakeboarding, than about kick tricks.”
Mooney grew up in Houston but has lived on the beach in Surfside, near Galveston, for much of his life.
He started longboarding when he was a freshman in high school. He and his friends liked to surf, but when the waves were flat, they took to longboards.
“It’s fun to go down a huge hill and get the rush,” Mooney said.
Longboarding can be dangerous, though, because higher velocities mean harder falls. Mooney has broken his wrist and injured his knee.
His favorite trick is to “hang ten” on the longboard. To do this, he hangs his toes over the front of the board, as in surfing.
Senior marketing and economics major Ryan Ledlow’s favorite trick to do is sliding.
“It’s a 180-degree spin where we put our hands on the ground and twist the board around,” he said.
Ledlow rides on a trick board that is shorter than most others and made specifically for sliding.
After a bad case of road rash, Ledlow advocates wearing protective gear. He has a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and gloves. He also tries to wear long pants and long sleeves to provide extra padding on his extremities.
He and other members of the group used super glue to attach cutting boards to their gloves. This helps protect their hands from getting shredded while sliding.
Ledlow feels the time is a great opportunity to be around his classmates.
“I like being outside and enjoying time with my friends,” Ledlow said.
Senior finance major Chris Whitehead has been riding for two years.
“Longboarding is like surfing or snowboarding on land,” he said.
Whitehead’s favorite thing to do on a longboard is “bombing” hills.
“(It’s) where you pick up speed and ride down a really steep hill,” he said.
Some of the hills the longboarding group regularly ride are near Parker and Davidson, Whitehead said. He also enjoys “carving,” or riding back and forth in parabola-shaped curves on his board.
“It’s an extreme sport, but at the same time, it’s really relaxing,” he said. “It’s an escape where I can unwind and listen to music while I ride.”
Senior international business major Pancho Gutierrez finds practical uses for his longboard.
“I just like to cruise to class on it,” he said.
Gutierrez has been riding for about two years. He loves to use his longboard to relax, much like Whitehead.
“It helps us to relieve stress from a long day,” he said.
Senior criminal justice major Ty Humphries is the camera man for the crew of longboarders. He can usually be spotted trying to get the best angle for a video of the guys while they are boarding.
“I try to catch them falling down or doing something cool,” he said.
While he often films from the sidelines, do not be fooled. Humphries rides as well, and his favorite thing to do is just “cruise.”
In between classes and school work, the longboarding crew is never bored because they always have their boards.
Mooney said it is not a hard hobby to pick up and welcomes others to ride even if they do not have experience.
“It’s easy to learn, so it’s fun to take new people out.”