Norte Vista Skateboarding Club makes space for young people to make friends and learn

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By Diego Lomeli

Every Friday, once 3 o’ clock rolls around, the sound of punk, metal and indie rock begins to echo through the halls of Norte Vista High School. 

It all emanates from the quad, just after the Norte Vista Skateboarding Crew finishes setting up their extensive collection of wooden ramps and waxed rails, most handmade by the club’s advisor Ian Enriquez.

It’s all stored away just across Room 116, where Enriquez spends the day teaching economics. Once the final bell rings every Friday, the members of the NVSC gather at the tiny storage room to help carry everything to the campus quad. 

The club started back in 2011 with 15 members, and it was those members who started the annual tradition of releasing a showreel composed of several skateboarding clips recorded throughout the school year.  

“The first year we did a small trailer-like video and we played it at an assembly,” Enriquez said. “That was the idea then, to have premieres, cause they used to have a renaissance assembly where they would recognize students, teachers and programs. They gave me an opportunity to do a five minute video, so we made a skate video and played it there; it was kind of funny cause nobody really knew how to react, you know what I mean?” 

The NVSC formed as a derivative of after-school programs that saw popularity in the late 90s. The idea of having a program where students could skate on school grounds began at the junior high level, and eventually made its way to high schools. Ten years ago, Enriquez was approached by NVHS’s previous principal Susan Boyd to be the club’s adviser. 

“She knew I was into skateboarding, and she asked if I could do something for the skateboarders here at Norte Vista,” Enriquez said. Today, Enriquez is still the advisor of the NVSC, and doesn’t plan on giving up that title soon. 

The sounds of skateboard wheels screeching, and the perpetual pop — followed by a brief pause — and then the landing slam of kickflips, ollies and one-eighties didn’t seem to show any sign of ending. It all blended in with the music blasting from the makeshift speakers resting on a utility cart covered from top to bottom in stickers. 

Among the group taking turns attempting to land tricks off of a two-foot high slab of concrete is Alyssa Gomez, the NVSC’s club president. 

“Skating is more like… it’s your own style,” Gomez said. “It’s whatever you like, some people ride goofy, some people ride regular, everything is going to look different.” 

Also in the group is Tai Hoffman, a self-proclaimed music junkie and a high school junior. He rocked a “Black Flag” band tee coupled with ragged, baggy dark jeans; one knee torn, and the other covered in patches carelessly stitched in black and white thread. 

When asked about what he listens to, his enthusiastic reply was, “Everything. I listen to so much music.” 

He took a sip of his canned iced tea, handed it to a friend beside him then shifted his demeanor into something more sincere.

“I can listen to girly 80s music like ‘Madonna’ or like ‘Stevie Nicks,’ then listen to black metal or something on the whole other side of the spectrum.”

Surprisingly, he prefers not to listen to music while skating. 

“I don’t listen to music when I skate. I feel like… it might be like a superstition thing, but I feel like I skip up a lot, or I just feel sloppy,” Hoffman said. “The thing is a lot of this stuff, (landing tricks) when it happens you’re going fast, so it kind of just happens. It’s kind of weird, you don’t pay so much attention to it, and it happens quick. You’d think music wouldn’t mess you up, but for me it’s the other way around.” 

The decade-old club remains the same as it has always been: a space where young people can congregate, exchange ideas, encourage one another and learn from each other. 

“We support each other and celebrate with each other,” Enriquez said. We try to model that sort of positive interaction and that behavior with everybody, with those who are skating and those who are not skating. Hopefully that’s something that we can pass on, because that’s the joy of skateboarding.”

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