“Any day is a good day to skate,” Jamie McNear explains.
McNear is a skater who is saying this at what is referred to as “L wood” skate park on a warm afternoon. He is an Evanston native and singer of the band Manwolves, originated in Evanston. Numerous skaters in the area can live skating as the weather is starting to change. The local skateboarding community is a passionate and close one; a group of skaters out in downtown Evanston almost every day, rain or shine.
The skaters range from seniors to eighth-grade students. They are a tight-knit, supportive team testing their limits by going down sets of stairs that only the bravest would attempt.
“I feel like it is a bunch of people that don’t fit in elsewhere, it’s a lot of misfits, it’s a lot of weird kids who found a home with skating,” senior Avery Bryant says.
Skating spots vary across Evanston, but they are all locations where skaters can imagine what can be done. The group once had found spare wood in the alley and decided to make a bank, a slanted wall to ride upon, by propping it up against the wall. All the while, skaters are filming video clips and taking photos to be put on social media.
Sophomore Alden Rathburn has put out quite a few edits tracking activity, putting out 10- to 30-minute videos. After Rathburn gets the footage, he lets the rest of the process come to him.
“I have an idea of enders and openers, but, for the most part, I have no clue what songs I’m going to use; I try to map out a soundtrack,” Rathburn says. “It’s more about conveying the mood you get while skateboarding.”
Rathburn started filming two years ago and has continued to put out videos. His latest video, “Freedom or Death,” garners over one thousand views on Instagram. Rathburn finds making videos very rewarding and feels it’s something that people can really get behind.
Moving is difficult, even in the best of times, yet the skating community opened its arms to freshman Wesley Waite.
“I moved here, what a month and a half ago and I’ve met like ten skaters,” Waite says.
McNear, meanwhile, growing up with the activity. Graduating in 2015, McNear skated everywhere, whether it was at the old Robert Crown Center, Northwestern’s campus, or any Chicagoland area skate park.
“The skating scene was back in the day versus now is significantly different. It’s more accepting, at least from here. There are a lot more people into it; it’s not as exclusive and kind of toxic as it was in the past. In general, the community is better than it was when I was a kid,” McNear says.
As he’s gotten older, and his band has gotten more popular, McNear has been able to skate all around America, even being able to skate down the long steep hills of San Francisco, known in the skating community as “hill bombing.” With his eyes open to what skating looks like elsewhere, McNear sees a difference between what the Evanston skate community once was and what it is now; current skaters could not agree more.
“Every kid that was skating didn’t look the same, and we’re all different in some way, whether it was the age gap, the way some had dressed in the same old stuff they always wear, to the kids wearing polo shirts to make sure they looked cool. No kid looked the same,” explains Bryant.
But one thing was the same: they all love skating.