CSUN underground longboarders fight for a space to skate

Hannah Pedraza

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Jonathan Pascual, 22, is president of Northridge Longboarders club. The group had been meeting on the rooftop of G3 parking structure since Feb. 4, 2009, but was approved by AS Senate as an official CSUN club on Jan. 7, 2009. Photo Credit: Hannah Pedraza / Photo Editor

Twenty-seven longboarders sat in a semicircle on the concrete. The number of boarders had waned from the usual showing due to summer and perhaps the newly changed meeting location. But this is only temporary, said Jonathan Pascual, president of Northridge Longboarders.

Northridge Longboarders was approved by the Associated Students (A.S.) senate as an official CSUN club July 7, 2009, but is now facing the age-old dilemma that people everywhere with boards on wheels face – no skateboarding allowed.

Pascual, a business management major and recreation tourism management minor, stood amongst the gathered boarders at their 30th “board” meet on August 19 and said, “It’s not over guys, I’m still fighting and trying to get that structure for us.”

The group has met weekly on the rooftop of the G3 parking structure since Feb. 4 with minimal problems, but they have had to leave this location after a more strict enforcement of university policy.

The club has been meeting at an undisclosed parking structure for the past three weeks, but would like to have a consistent location and eventually make G3 their home base, Pascual said.

“What we’re doing is risky. I want to do this legitimately. I don’t want to be underground forever,” Pascual said.

Efforts to be able to congregate at the G3 structure haven’t and won’t be easy.

Pascual has been negotiating with the licensing department to see how plausible it would be to rent out the parking structure on a weekly bases. It’s not looking hopeful.

Renting costs $5.50 per parking space and with the 1,390 spaces in lot G3, this would total more than $7,500, not including other fees such as paying hourly for a liaison, Physical Plant Management and security, Pascual said.

“The club would thrive more if we were able to ride on campus,” said Aaron Wong, 21, vice president of the club.

“I understand they’re trying to do their job, but we’ve done this for so long and nothing’s happened,” said Justin Gore, 20, co-founder of Dang Apparel, one of the club’s five sponsors.

“Every one of our members can skate individually on campus. What’s the difference from 20 individuals skating, and 20 in a group skating?” said 20-year-old David Weisbach, a mechanical engineering major.

Pascual’s idea for a longboarding club began at the grand opening of the G3 parking structure on Jan. 29.  Pascual and Wong went to the top of the structure to ride it down and met four other CSUN students doing the same. They decided to make it a regular practice and had their first meeting a week later. The group quickly grew and reached its peak with 57 longboarders on July 29.

It was Pascual’s passion for longboarding and uniting others that drove him to make his idea for a club a reality.

“Jon’s passion for the club has kept it together. Other cliques just dissipate, but with Jon behind the club, it’s staying together,” said George Castrillon, secretary of the club and a senior business administration major.

The club’s budget of $1,100 was approved on August 4. Part of the budget will go toward buying longboards for the club.
“If someone doesn’t have a longboard, they can come anyway and we’ll teach them,” Pascual said.

Aside from bringing both male and female longboarders together to have fun, another main purpose of the club is campus beautification.

One night the club rode down the B3 parking structure several times, picking up trash as they went, and filled three large trash bags full.

Other nights were more fun with pump races down the G3 structure and a visit from Concrete Wave magazine’s Editor and Publisher Michael Brooke who flew out from Canada to check out the Northridge Longboarders.

Not all the board meetings were as lighthearted. On July 1, 48 boarders went to the meeting to pay tribute to their friend and fellow longboarder Michael Sangalang.  Sangalang, 21, who had been with the club since April died a few days earlier on June 25 after being caught in a rip tide at Zuma beach.

That meeting was definitely more solemn than others, said Pascual. The boarders took a silent ride down the structure out of respect for their friend.

“That silent ride was really eerie. That night was our defining moment as a community,” said Pascual.

Even with the club’s dubious prospect of securing G3 as their meeting location, Pascual has no doubts that the club will continue to grow.

“I’d like to eventually host an annual or semiannual competition for Southern California.”

Pascual would also like to one day see the club organize field trips and host retreats.

“I think it’s so good a bunch of people can still get together without any bickering,” said Tasha Wheeler, 27, who started longboarding three months ago.

“When you get such an eclectic group of people, people with different majors, different personalities, it’s great. There are no aggressive personalities here,” Castrillon said.

“Ultimately, I want longboarding to be recognized as a safe sport,” Pascual said.