Late-night skaters: what happens when the cars leave the parking garage [Video included]

Breezeway construction may have cut down on longboarding traffic, but the longboarders are still going strong elsewhere.

%28From+left+to+right%29+Max+Wellnitz%2C+Junior+Jamir+Howard%2C+Rod+Howard%2C+Raymond+Mathis%2C+Carlton+%E2%80%9CCJ%E2%80%9D+Harden%2C+Raheem+Rochester.++Andrew+Fraieli+%7C+Managing+Editor
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Late-night skaters: what happens when the cars leave the parking garage [Video included]

(From left to right) Max Wellnitz, Junior Jamir Howard, Rod Howard, Raymond Mathis, Carlton “CJ” Harden, Raheem Rochester.  Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

(From left to right) Max Wellnitz, Junior Jamir Howard, Rod Howard, Raymond Mathis, Carlton “CJ” Harden, Raheem Rochester. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

(From left to right) Max Wellnitz, Junior Jamir Howard, Rod Howard, Raymond Mathis, Carlton “CJ” Harden, Raheem Rochester. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

(From left to right) Max Wellnitz, Junior Jamir Howard, Rod Howard, Raymond Mathis, Carlton “CJ” Harden, Raheem Rochester. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

Tucker Berardi, Features Editor

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The floors and ceilings of Parking Garage 2 at Florida Atlantic’s Boca Raton campus echo after hours with the sounds of wheels coasting on pavement mixed with the excited yells that come with a successfully landed trick.

Once the sun goes down and the cars leave, the three on-campus parking garages — along with other stretches of pavement on and around campus — belong to the skaters.

“It’s something to do,” mechanical engineering sophomore Raheem Rochester said. “College stresses you out, it’s a way to escape.”

The parking garages are one such escape.

Raheem Rochester longboards down Parking Garage 2. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

Raheem Rochester longboards down Parking Garage 2. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

The skaters ride from the top of the garages and use the turns to slow down — or bail, if needed. The angle of the slope lets them speed up quickly, and the smooth concrete offers little resistance.

The group of about a dozen skaters meets every Friday to ride around the parking garages and other off-campus locations with sociology graduate student, Rod Howard—the self-proclaimed leader—calling the shots.

“I’m the originator of the group,” Howard said. “If people want to join they can usually come to me.”

Howard and other skaters can be seen riding around during the day — whether going to and from class or just hanging out by the sociology building — which is when they usually recruit other skaters to join them on Friday nights.

“[We] attract attention during the day, practice at night,” Howard said.

Potential members be warned though: Howard is adamant that to join the group, one needs to be a competent longboarder who can keep up and stay safe.

According to Howard, the group skates for a number of reasons, stating that it is a great pastime and “good exercise.”

“[The] freshman 15 is a real thing,” Howard said. “[Skating] is more for staying in shape.”

Max Wellnitz, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, is another member of the group. He spent 20 hours designing his board on campus, using the university’s tools in the College of Engineering Machine Shop to create his metal board from scratch, which he refers to as his “baby.”

Max Wellnitz, sophomore electrical engineer, holds his handmade skateboard with pride. Taylor Craig | Lead Video Journalist

Max Wellnitz, sophomore electrical engineer, holds his handmade skateboard with pride. Taylor Craig | Lead Video Journalist

“I ride to all my classes, and … to the Caf,” Wellnitz said, holding his own custom-made board. “It’s the best way to get around.”

The main stage for these skaters is not daytime transportation, however. They are in the spotlight when they have an open road — or parking garage — with enough space and freedom to accommodate a more intense pattern of boarding.

They spend each Friday skating on some expanse of concrete, usually from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. They end their night at the Denny’s near campus on Federal Highway.

The late-night diner visit is well deserved according to Howard, who says the group can skate anywhere from 14-20 miles in one night.

For skaters who stick strictly to the Breezeway, their usual routes are now obstacle courses of fences and detours that leave them no choice but to walk to class like the rest of us.

But these nighttime skaters don’t see the construction as much of a loss and have moved their focus to other skate spots on and off campus.

“[The] Breezeway construction has expanded my horizons,” said Howard. “I still have concrete to ride on.”

As of right now, the skaters’ favorite spot is Dixie Highway, north of Glades Road, which they claim has one of the smoothest surfaces in the area.

Raymond Mathis, sophomore engineering major, Carlton “CJ” Harden and Raheem Rochester talking and laughing over each other during their interview with the UP. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

Raymond Mathis, sophomore engineering major, Carlton “CJ” Harden and Raheem Rochester talking and laughing over each other during their interview with the UP. Andrew Fraieli | Managing Editor

“It’s like grinding on clouds,” engineering sophomore Raymond Mathis said.

Tucker Berardi is the features editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @tucker_berardi.