If you take a walk around campus, you are almost guaranteed to have a longboarder or two whiz past you. The trend has taken off at RIT and college campuses nationwide as a cool and efficient form of transportation.
For many students, like Emily Himmelwright, part of longboarding’s appeal is how quickly one can get from point A to point B. Himmelwright, a second-year media arts and technology student from Schenectady, N.Y., can make the trek from her dorm room to the academic side of campus in five minutes while riding her longboard, saving her more than 10 minutes if she were to walk to class instead.
A longboard, which is longer and wider than a traditional skateboard, also has bigger wheels that make it smoother when going over bumps, cracks and the ever- present RIT bricks.
RIT’s flat, sprawling campus has boosted its status in the longboarding community to becoming one of the largest in the Rochester area, students say.
Although there is no official longboarding club at RIT, a Facebook group, Skate[roc] @ RIT, serves as a forum for campus longboarders. With nearly 170 members, the group uses the page to post where they will be skating and boards or equipment they are selling.
For Andrew Goodsell, a fifth-year mechanical engineering technology student and Oneida, N.Y., native, longboarding has become a big part of his college experience.
Although he had been involved in skateboarding before college, he didn’t buy his first longboard until he came to RIT, when a friend he met in class introduced him to it. Now, Goodsell helps set up longboarding events in Rochester and is a team rider for locally based longboarding company Enraged Panda.
“My favorite thing about the longboarding community is that when you see someone else with a longboard, you can instantly go up and have a conversation with them,” said Goodsell.
Himmelwright started longboarding during her freshman year at RIT. She has since purchased two boards and met many friends through the longboarding community on campus.
“I probably skate about three hours a day if it’s really nice out,” said Himmelwright.
Generally, she has gotten good reactions from teachers and administrators when she brings her longboard to class. It’s not uncommon to see longboards lined up next to desks or in the back of classrooms.
“There are a lot of good places to put a longboard, especially in a big lecture hall,” said Himmelwright. “I have even had a presenter ask if she could try using my longboard. I put the board on the ground and let her use my shoulder to try and balance.”
Tyler Schrodt knew that he wanted to build and sell longboards, but he had one problem—he didn’t know how to make them. Evan McCool knew how to make longboards, but he didn’t have the business experience to sell them.
In 2010, Schrodt and McCool joined forces and, using money from their savings accounts, started Enraged Panda Boarding Co.
Today, Enraged Panda sells between 30 and 60 longboards every month to enthusiasts all over the world, including customers in New Zealand, Germany, Canada and South Africa, and to skate shops nationwide.
The two run the business while attending RIT full time.
Schrodt ’13 (international business and finance), an Alden, N.Y., native, is pursuing his MBA and McCool will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology.
They first set up shop in McCool’s father’s garage in Henrietta, N.Y., and began selling longboards to the RIT and Greater Rochester communities.
“For the first six months I don’t think we sold a board out of Rochester,” said McCool, a Binghamton, N.Y., native. “Without the RIT skate scene, we wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”
According to the owners, Enraged Panda goes above and beyond to make the perfect longboard for every customer, something that’s harder for larger companies to do. They can modify the specifications of a board based on the rider’s size or riding style, and McCool and Schrodt hand-make each board.
They don’t stop there; the artwork featured on the bottom of the longboard can be completely customized as well. Schrodt and McCool contract RIT art students to paint what are often masterpieces on the bottoms of their longboards.
Looking ahead, the duo hopes to expand Enraged Panda by working with one of the largest longboard distributors in Canada. Schrodt and McCool recently hired an intern who they hope will take over much of the production as the business grows.
For more information on Enraged Panda, go to www.epboards.com.