Square Skate State brings skateboarding lessons to Longmont's Eagle Crest Elementary

Originally published on Daily Camera >>

Students at Longmont's Eagle Crest Elementary learned tic tacs, kick turns and ollies in lessons on skateboarding fundamentals during their P.E. classes.

"I'm glad that they brought it to our school," said fourth-grader Hans Hoermann. "It's fun. It's not a sport like soccer where there are rules and penalties. There are lots of options. There are lots of ways to do it."

Square State Skate, based in Lafayette, came to the school to teach about 300 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders a series of three or four lessons, depending on grade. About half the students had never tried skateboarding before.

P.E. teacher Jason Goldsberry said he added skateboarding to the curriculum because it's one more way to get kids active.

"I want to give an alternative option to some of those kids who don't fall into that traditional sports mode," he said.

He brought in Square State because, as someone whose only experience with skateboarding was a two-month stint as a kid, he wanted more experienced teachers. Plus, he said, he likes the instructors' easygoing, positive teaching style and emphasis on creating a skateboarding community

"The board can be an icebreaker for kids," Goldsberry said. "There is a sense of community and belonging in skateboarding."

Square State Skate offers children's skateboard lessons and camps at skate parks around Boulder County and north Denver suburbs. The Eagle Crest lessons were the first time the company taught at a school.

"Our whole focus is sharing skateboarding with as many kids as we can," said Square State owner Brian Ball, who also works as a teacher's aide at Erie's Meadowlark PK-8. "At Eagle Crest, it's an intro to let them know that it's fun and awesome and can be safe."

For students without their own helmets, Longmont United Hospital and San Diego-based company Pro-Tec donated a combined 75 helmets. The hospital also helped fit the helmets on the students.

For the lessons, the instructors started with the kids inside the gym, teaching them foot positions on decks with no wheels. Then they went outside to try their skills on skateboards.

"I don't expect it to work out perfectly for everybody, every time," Ball told the students before they got on skateboards in a side parking lot.

Groups of students tried different moves and techniques, depending on their skill level and interest.

"What I love about skateboarding is there are so many ways to do it," said Square State Skate Director Ted Heron. "You really try to connect with the kids and find what they want to do."

Third-graders worked on tic tacs, lifting up the nose of the skateboard, then added in turning their shoulders to turn their boards all the way around.

A fourth-grade group asked for a lesson on an ollie, a trick where both the skateboarder and the board go up in the air.

Square State Skate Director David Biddle showed them how to pop the tail of the board on the ground with their back foot and drag their front foot forward. Then he let them practice on the grass, adding the encouragement that "I've been skateboarding for 18 years, and I'm still getting better at it."

Another group tried skateboarding up a small hill, going back down and turning their board around with a kick turn. As one girl tried but couldn't make a full turn, she declared that she couldn't do it.

"I don't think it's that you can't," Ball told her. "I think that the first time is really hard."

Third-grader Mae Hickey said she likes skateboarding so much that she's getting her own skateboard. The most helpful tips from her P.E. lessons, she said, are to "bend your knees and keep your shoulders up."

"I've learned how to skateboard very well here," she said.

Several students talked about trying skateboarding on their own, often at the urging of a sibling or friend, only to have a bad experience.

"I almost fell on my face," said fourth-grader Ariana Lozano, adding that getting instruction from Square State lessons was better.

"There are people helping us and showing us new ticks," she said.

Fifth-grader Sydney Holcomb learns to skateboard during her physical education class at Eagle Crest Elementary in Longmont on Thursday morning. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

Fifth-grader Sydney Holcomb learns to skateboard during her physical education class at Eagle Crest Elementary in Longmont on Thursday morning. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)