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Knowledge is commonly classified into two sets: street smarts and book smarts.

Skateboarders, obviously, have the former in abundance. We spend half our lives pushing through the streets so it’s only natural that we pick up a lesson or two while we’re out there. That leaves a void in the book smarts department. How many times have you seen the skateboarder portrayed as the slacker stereotype, destined for nothing greater than a crispy bong hit and a future of bad knees? Well, we’re here to set the record straight that not all skateboarders are uneducated stoners – and here’s some brief interviews with six college educated skaters to prove it.

Walker Ryan

School: University of California – San Diego
Major: Sociology

Why did you go to college?
I grew up in a household that placed a very high level of importance in getting a college education, so I never really had any thought of not going to college. Even though my parents were supportive of my skateboarding, I didn’t have anything substantial going on with sponsors at the end of high school to warrant not going to college, so I just ended up going to the best school I got into.

Does it seem worth it now that you’ve finished?
My college experience introduced me to many people who I know that I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life, so simply for that reason it was worth it. My college education offered me exposure to subjects and situations I definitely wouldn’t have encountered had I not gone. Beyond that, because I went to college in San Diego, which at the time felt pretty much like the epicenter of the skateboarding industry, I found skateboarding opportunities there that I probably never would have without moving to that part of California at 18 years old. In addition I pretty much filmed a whole video part on my campus because there were so many good spots. I might never use my actual degree, but looking at it now as an overall experience, it was totally worth it.

Did you have any crazy party experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Honestly, most of the crazy partying that went down during my years at college happened through my skateboarding friends. My school was pretty nerdy and from a party perspective, super lame.

What’s the most frat boy you’ve gotten?
My school wasn’t too fratty, so it was never really a temptation. I generally found frats to be real lame. But I did date a girl who was in a sorority for a few years, so that could count. Isn’t skateboarding sort of one big fraternity anyway?

Easier to meet girls?
I don’t think there’s any easier place in the world to meet girls than at college.

How did you balance school work and skating?
I would block out my schedules so all my classes were on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. That way I could have long weekends and I would just make sure I was super sore by the time Tuesday rolled around, so I wouldn’t even want to skate.

Nick Jensen

School: Central St. Martins
Major: Fine Art

Does it seem worth it now that you’ve finished?
Yeah it most definitely feels worth it, because it has informed the way i think about my practice and my attitude towards it feels more professional.

Did you have any crazy party experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Art school in London is pretty mellow. Because I lived in London already, I mainly partied with my skater friends anyway.

What’s the most frat boy you’ve gotten?
I don’t think I have ever gotten that frat boy… except when I shotgunned a beer and then projected half the contents straight back out into the street.

Did you pick your school based on skate scene or studies?
I picked it on studies, but also I wanted to stay in London for skating and just because I love London.

Should there be skateboard scholarships?
Haha, I know my friend Gustav Eden works with skateboarding at a university over in Sweden. I think there is a developing engagement with skateboarding across the board these days, so yeah, I think there should be skateboard scholarships.

How did you balance school work and skating?
I just did, you work out ways to do both, you just have to work hard.

Dan Murphy

School: North Carolina State University
Major: Psychology

Why did you go to college?
I went to college to get an education, as a backup plan in case my dream as a professional skateboarder didn’t pan out, and to prepare myself for a future career.

Did you have any crazy party experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Obviously some of the greatest memories from college were from partying. With so many colleges in the Triangle Area (Duke, UNC, etc), there were probably over a 100,000 students, the majority partaking in college activities, especially partying. I definitely threw some unforgettable ragers!

Did you pick your school based on skate scene or studies?
I definitely picked NCSU because of the skating. It’s a really good college, but also one with so many skate spots and great weather year round. At that point I was trying to kill two birds with one stone, graduate college and go pro at the same time.

Should there be skateboard scholarships?
Of course. There are so many crazy scholarships out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if they offer skateboarding scholarships some day. I was involved in the Skate Club at NCSU and now its grown every year, earning more and more legitimacy amongst other students, faculty, and officials.

Do you think going to school helped or hurt with your skating career?
It helped me because many of my original sponsors were intrigued by my commitment to school and saw that the image had business potential. Having a professional skateboarder with an education can be an encouraging and commendable marketing tool for big companies, like Nike, to invest in. Stay in school, kids. Haha.

Ryan Lay

School: Northern Arizona University
Major: Public Administration

Why did you go to college?
It was really important for me to finish my degree and I wanted to have more options available to me when I’m ready to throw in the towel. I also am running a nonprofit (skateafterschool.org) and needed more formal education on administrative duties like fundraising and planning/implementing a budget.

Does it seem worth it now that you’ve finished?
I’m not finished yet, but I will be getting my degree without paying a dime; I’m really fortunate for that.

What’s the most frat boy you’ve gotten?
I probably got more frat boy on iPath trips with Fred Gall and Kenny Reed than at school.

Easier to meet girls?
I’ve always been in a relationship, but it definitely is way easier. You meet girls who have their own shit going on and haven’t already dated three of your friends.

Do you think more skaters should go to college?
Yes. I think it makes you a little more well-rounded and connects you to the real world. At the very least, use the Pell Grant and get an Associate’s Degree for free. It will keep you grounded and it definitely helps me get through injuries.

Should there be skateboard scholarships?
That’s the unfortunate side to skating; it’s an incredibly insular culture, and any success you might have is not really applicable outside of the industry… I can only imagine what a college skateboard team might look like; you can count me out.

Do you think going to school helps you with skating? Vice-versa?
Of course. Skating for me, now more than ever, is all about “skate smarter not harder.” Everyone is so fucking good now that you have to be more clever than ever with the shit you skate and the stuff you put out. Also, my body has taken a beating over the years, so there’s that to deal with too. A lot of stuff I learned about in art school and after definitely has influenced the way I approach skating; especially issues dealing with public space; i.e. Guy Debord and the Situationists, Francis Alys, even authors like David Foster Wallace or George Saunders. I think it’s impossible for life to not influence your skating and vice versa… this shit is not just a sport. That being said, at the moment I really wish I had more time to actually skate and film right now. It’s hard to film when you’ve just got a day or two out of the week or a few hours here and there – much easier when it’s organic and you’re just out wandering around.

Brian Clarke

School: Manhattan College
Major: Secondary Education, History

Why did you go to college?
To set a good example for my siblings. I never wanted them to say, “well I’m not going to school cause Brian didn’t”.

Does it seem practical in everyday life?
If you can escape with no debt, it’s very practical. You make your own schedule and it gives you a chance to live in any city you want.

What’s the most frat boy you’ve gotten?
Attending frat parties.

Easier to meet girls?
I had a girlfriend the first two years so I pretty much ignored all the girls at my school. Then junior year we broke up and I quickly realized the girls were actually ignoring me the whole time.

Should there be skateboard scholarships?
No. Then skaters will become frat boys. I mean that’s already happening, but that would expedite the process.

How did you balance school work and skating?
I didn’t. I would skate all the time and do all my school work the night or morning before it was due.

Do you think going to school helps you with skating? Vice-versa?
Yes it did. I lived with Sean Colello so we skated everyday together. We would skate a box or benches in the area or even just flat for hours, then a few days a week we would go downtown and film with JP Blair. I filmed more while I was in school than during any other period of my life.

Silvester Eduardo

School: New Jersey School of Space and Aeronautics
Major: Manufacturing Technology

Why are you going to college?
About a year ago I got really interested in Industrial design so I bought a couple books on it and then decided to go to school to study it more.

Does it seem worth it now that you are there?
Buzz Aldrin is my physics teacher. I think it’s worth it. My classes are good so it’s a good time.

Are you having any crazy party experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Been sober for a couple years now. Jail straightened me out.

What’s the most frat boy you have gotten?
The Croatian Brotherhood. We just scream Irish folk music. The initiation is mellow though, all you have to do is RKO a freshman.

Easier to meet girls?
So many girls hitting me up…so many.

Did you pick your school based on skate scene or studies?
I chose NJSSA because all you need is a pencil to get in.

Do you want to study abroad?
I am down for some weird beaver…

Do you think more skaters should go to college?
A lot of skaters go to college. The Dean of my school has the best inverts. The things you have done on a skateboard are harder than anything you will do in college.

Comments

  1. Truman'sMother

    June 25, 2015 2:00 pm

    You forgot the most highly educated of them all, Truman Hooker has his masters!!

  2. michael

    June 25, 2015 2:19 pm

    I’m nowhere near a professional but I’ve skated for close to 15 years and am working on my Ph.D in Chemistry. I always appreciate meeting and hearing about intellectual skateboarders that contrast the projected stereotype of the “slacker skater”. That being said I’ve also met many brilliant skaters (and non-skaters!) that never went to colllege!

  3. Steve The Man

    June 25, 2015 2:40 pm

    College has basically allowed me to sponsor myself, if I need a new deck, shoes, quarter pipe, etc. I just buy/build it. You just have to get a degree someone is going to pay you more for having than you pay to get it, like the sciences, engineering (me), or business. Unless you have a very specific job you are aiming for, no one is going to care about your BA in Chicano Studies with a minor in Electronic Music.

  4. dimit

    June 25, 2015 2:57 pm

    Fuck yea to this post. Promote going to college more often. Im progressing through my classes and skating. It did feel like hard work in the beginning and I was so uncertain of what i was doing was right. Finding a balance between the two was the most important part and hardest, but setting priorities before wants, allowed me to find the harmony between them. I dont regret the time invested in my major and skateboarding.

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