The Human Powered Transportation Club on campus aims to change perceptions of skateboarding culture while supporting the Boone community, but there are some hurdles to cross.
The Human Powered Transportation Club, or HPT, was created without mention of skateboarding because of the legal implications. It’s a club that ties environmentalism and community outlook with skateboarding.
Just last year, the legality of skateboarding was being questioned by App State students, since App State was only one of three schools in the UNC system to still ban skateboards. The others were UNC-Asheville and Western Carolina University.
Johnny Brown, patrol commander of university police, told The Appalachian last year that it had been rumored the policy against skateboarding arose because of some damage done by skateboarders on campus. The Student Government Association during the 2017 school year expressed their efforts to abolish the policy with multiple bills, but limited progress was made since the town of Boone had the ultimate say in the policy, therefore overriding any campus level efforts.
Nathan Godwin, an App State alumnus and the president of the club last year, stressed that skateboarding was safe. The source of misunderstanding for skateboarding is caused by the absence of communication, Godwin said.
Garrett Gourley, junior anthropology major, gathered his now 20-plus member club for a campus cleanup on Thursday. This semester at App State marks the first time skateboarding was legally allowed on campus.
The club aims to “erase the negative stigma of skateboarding,” altogether by cleaning up trash every week around campus and being responsible on the board, Gourley said.
This is the club’s third campus-wide cleanup this year, however this was one of the first meetings since the policy change.
The specifics of the new policy allows for freedom on campus, as long as four wheels stay on the ground and skateboarders stay off King Street, Ashley Winecoff, the former president of HPT and current member, said.
Even though the policy for skateboarding on campus has been updated, the club was precautious at first, and even now the police watch the skateboarders during their meetings.
The first time the club completed a campus cleanup they carried their boards the entire route, Gourley said.
Thomas Richmond, a senior commercial photography major and member of the club, said he feels the club has diminished the stigma against skateboarding and has found a welcoming community in Boone.
There is a substance to skateboarding that is inclusive to all majors, personalities and lifestyles, Richmond said.
The club doesn’t stop at impacting the community at the campus level. It strives to help the entire community, from trash pickups to foster home skate lessons, Richmond said.
While it may have seemed like there was little space for skateboarding on campus and in the community a year ago, the club members tell a different story.
The HPT club has been supported by a core downhill community and a culture of skateboarders that has brought many professionals through the region, Richmond said.
Richmond said skateboarding in the Appalachian mountains is mostly undiscovered by people in the community.
“Skating DIY parks, the bowls on the east coast and outer banks, then the downhill in the eastern North Carolina region,” are all parts of North Carolina skateboarding history, Richmond said.
Members of the club are hopeful the club will continue to grow as fast as it has, and the outlook on skateboarding will continue to positively change, Richmond said.
The club is the beginning of a snowball effect in the right direction and is always accepting new members, Richmond said.
If you would like to join the club, contact Gourley by email at firstname.lastname@example.org about meeting times and further inquiries or visit OrgSync for club information.
Story by: Alexander Hubbell, A&E Reporter
Photos by: Ethan Brown, Staff Photographer