Ty and Shelby both live in Panama City, Florida, and work together at First Baptist Church. In their free time, they are longboarding (note that I did not say skateboarding). They explain that skateboards have a symmetrical board with two lips for tricks. A longboard is much larger and has bigger wheels than a skateboard and typically has only one lip or none – this means, you cannot Ollie with a longboard. (Ollie is a skateboarding term referring to a jump – by putting weight and pressure on the lip, the board gets off the ground). While Ty and Shelby may not be able to do tricks with their longboards, they can definitely go fast—in fact, that’s their trick! Both use their longboards as a fast and cost-effective mode of transportation. Ty says, “I can ride my board from Downtown to Callaway in 20 minutes.”
While Ty and Shelby prefer longboarding, they have no issues with skateboarding. In an attempt to understand the controversy about skateboarding, I asked Ty and Shelby about the common misconceptions.
So, for all the non-skaters out there, what are the basic differences between longboarding and skateboarding?
One of the misconceptions is that skateboarding and longboarding should both be classified in the same category. The skateboard community and the longboard community are often very different. Skateboarders are about creativity and expression through tricks and ramps. In general, longboarders are much less likely to upset anyone. They do not trespass and leave marks from grinds and
People aren’t necessarily against skateboarding. They are against the destruction and vandalism and trespassing that sometimes (but not always) accompanies the culture of skateboarding. While I agree that there are some bad apples in the skateboarding community, I think skateboarding gets an unnecessarily bad reputation. I would ask people who are against skateboarding, who are tired of their property being used for rails and tricks, to help us build something to be proud of that we can skate in. People are going to skate whether you build it or not, it’s just a matter of where.
How did you get started with longboarding, what does it mean to you and where are your favorite spots?
Ty: I love longboarding because it gives me the feeling of freedom and creativity when riding the streets in Panama City. I have been longboarding now for five years and have gone to cities around Florida and Texas to ride. My favorite spot to longboard would be Tallahassee because it is the hilliest city in all the state. I have not been able to longboard in California (yet!) and I am sure Cali has the best spots for longboarding in the country. In Panama City, the best spots are around hospital hill and the Cove. We love to ride at night because there is less traffic.
Shelby: I first heard about longboarding from my brother and Ty and decided to give it a try. I have longboarded with friends in different parts of the county and believe that the best places locally are the Sand Hills and the Cove. The best places to ride in Florida are in Jacksonville where they have a skate park where longboarders are welcome.
Have you ever gotten hurt?
Shelby: We don’t have too many stories about getting hurt (luckily!) but longboarding can be hazardous. A couple years back, we were all longboarding in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was going down a hill at 35 mph. I fell and injured my knee pretty severely.
Ty: One of the first “tricks” I learned was how to fall… yes, how to fall. For most boarders, the ability to fall correctly can and will save your body from danger. I have never broken a bone, although I have fallen and gotten severe road rash before.
Both love their boards and their style! The bottom of Shelby’s longboard is covered with local stickers. He specifically loves his “Millville” and “850” stickers.
Ty and Shelby often ride with a few other longboarders. Most of them work at First Baptist Church and love to spend time and fellowship while riding their boards on the streets of Bay County. Ty spends much of his time working with the youth who love being outdoors with the “guys.”
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