A dark silhouette shrinks as it rides into the distance.
The sun is setting, and a cool breeze fills the summer air, a nice relief from the blazing Florida sun.
Large urethane wheels, 77 mm to be exact, grip the concrete, turning and sliding, according to the rider’s will.
Several others follow, as if in chase, gaining speed down a ramp. These riders don’t all go to the same school, same church, play in the same band, or play on the same team. They’re brought together by this sport, longboarding, and a common love for it.
Longboarding is a rising sport and gaining popularity amongst the ranks of high school students. The longboard itself resembles a skateboard while riding one is more comparable to surfing.
The longboard was invented by skaters, who wanted to go faster and feel like they were “street surfing” in the 1950s. Riders would imitate surfing on the original longboards when the waves were small and unsurfable.
Some of the pioneers of the sport were Tom Sims, Jeff Tatum, Lonnie Toft and Willi Winkels.
Despite the virtually flat landscape of Florida, longboarding is still very alive here.
Senior Trevor Dye, a casual longboarder, enjoys skating down parking garages and other slopes such as walkways.
“I like longboarding because I can go fast,” said Dye. He often rides places such as the Bro Bowl in downtown Tampa, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and any open parking garages.
Another enthusiast, freshman Chandler Maass, enjoys longboarding as well. The reason he rides is the “speed and tricks.” Both ride with diverse crowds, coming from all schools in Hillsborough County.
“It’s a great sport to do with friends and I really enjoy that aspect,” said Maass.
Performing tricks on a longboard, formally known as “dancing,” is much different than skateboarding or any other sport. Slides are a common move where you shift your weight to make the wheels lose traction, effectively sliding.
However, this is indeed a dangerous sport, as you can reach speeds of up to 30 mph, so safety gear is necessary
Sun setting, they pack away their boards. Handshakes are exchanged as they prepare to leave, already anxious for the next time. This is longboarding.