Joseph Sheetz is a true “Sk8er Boi” — he’s got the skills, the boards and the beanies. The Northwestern freshman not only works on improving his own skateboarding skills, but he also helps others learn and polish skills of their own.
Sheetz was inspired by a friend to start skateboarding during his sophomore year of high school.
“My friend was into skateboarding, and he was really good,” Sheetz said. “I didn’t have too many interests at that time — I was just a normal kid playing video games. I started to look into skateboarding. I found a cheap board at Walmart and started with that, but then once I got into it I found a local skate shop and bought a good one from there.”
Sheetz took his new hobby and became almost entirely self-taught. He also learned from his experiences skating with friends.
“It took a really long time to learn by myself because at the time, I didn’t have a phone that could play YouTube — I had a slider phone,” Sheetz said. “It was a trial and error kind of thing, and eventually I started getting a few tricks down.”
The first trick Sheetz decided to teach himself was an ollie, a feat which took him four months to master.
“At first, I actually hated skateboarding,” Sheetz said. “You have to have an extreme amount of persistence and dedication. You’re going to fall and not get something. But I really loved the feeling of landing a trick for the first time.”
Once he mastered his first trick, he started skating with some friends who helped him learn more tricks and continue to progress his skills. Now Sheetz spends his time skateboarding around Orange City and taking advantage of the skate park in town. Even the winter temperatures do not stop him from getting outside to practice; all it takes is extra layers and some time to get warmed up once he’s outside.
Sheetz’s passion for skateboarding has extended to the rest of campus. Starting fall semester, he began offering lessons for NW students who wanted to improve their skills or start from scratch.
“I noticed a lot of people around campus riding penny boards and long boards,” Sheetz said, “but a lot of them didn’t know some of the fundamentals like how to stop and turn and push.”
Sheetz’s skateboarding lessons can happen individually or in a group. All lessons take place at the Orange City skating park. This is the ideal spot for beginners, as the park has a flat and smooth surface where skaters don’t have to worry about wiping out from sticks or pebbles. Lessons can consist of anything from learning the basics, learning tricks or working on skill corrections.
Sheetz is planning on continuing lessons for the remainder of this semester into next year. If you have interest in learning or working on your boarding skills, refer to the posters located around campus.