X is for Xtreme: Student takes sports to the extreme

Michael Brown, a senior from Franklin, Tenn., often carves down Parkway Street on his longboard on Hospital Hill in Bowling Green. Brown uses his longboard as transportation around campus and is one of the founders of a longboard club at WKU.

Natalie West

There’s nothing Michael Brown enjoys more than cruising around on a nice, sunny day – but he’d much rather be cruising on a board than in a car.

Brown, a senior from Franklin, Tenn., is into all things extreme. He skateboards, surfs, wakeboards, snowboards and longboards.

“I’ve been doing anything that’s on a board since I was little,” he said.

Because there’s not a large body of water nearby, Brown said he has had to adopt to the hills and pavement by doing more skateboarding and longboarding.

Lately, Brown has become more interested in longboarding because he said it’s a smoother ride.

A longboard, as he explains, has a larger board and wheels made for cruising and downhill skating, whereas a skateboard is used more for doing bigger tricks.

“There is always pressure to go bigger, to jump more stairs,” Brown said. “And I don’t feel like having a broken arm all year.”

Brown said another reason he enjoys longboarding is because it’s a newer sport and gradually gaining popularity.

“You don’t have to be Tony Hawk to be good at it,” he said.

Brown has been longboarding for about a year and said it didn’t really take long to learn how to skate.

“I just hopped on and it felt normal,” he said. “I use it to skate recreationally and also for transportation,” he said. “It’s what gets me to class on time.”

He did say that he had to learn sliding, which he explained as “glorified slowing down” where you drag your hand across the pavement to keep going.

There aren’t many other tricks to learn on longboards, but Brown said there are extreme things to do, such as going downhill.

One of the crazier things Brown said he has done is longboarding down Hospital Hill, which is between 10th and Fairview avenues. His next goal is to board down College Street from Cherry Hall.

“With no cars around, of course,” he said.

Brown said it’s a gamble when doing the extreme side of longboarding, because if you don’t slide or stop right, everything can turn bad in a matter of seconds.

“It can be nerve-wracking, but I want to push myself,” Brown said. “I like the thrill, the adrenaline.”

Above all, Brown said he loves just cruising around on a nice day with his friends. He said he has even made some new friends by stopping and talking to other longboarders on campus.

After seeing more people riding, Brown and some friends had an idea to start a longboarding club at WKU.

Brown said the purpose of the club is to go on organized group rides and possibly longer, more difficult rides to raise money for various philanthropies.

“This is a way for me to contribute to WKU,” he said.

Bowling Green junior Landon White said Brown got him started on longboarding, and now White has helped to form a longboarding club.

“Not many people were longboarding, so that was a perfect reason to start it,” White said. “Now word has spread and more people are riding.”

Another friend of Brown’s and fellow longboarding fan is Michael Proctor, a freshman from Franklin, Tenn., who said he enjoys longboarding because it’s a stress reliever.

Proctor said he skates with Brown every day that it’s sunny, and he is excited to begin boarding with others through the longboarding club.

“It’s great to be able to introduce longboarding to a lot of people,” Proctor said.

Brown said he thinks everyone should give longboarding a try.

“It’s great to see yourself doing something you didn’t think you could do and to see yourself getting better,” he said.