The proposed DU Skate Society

Ruth McGann speaks to Skate Soc Provisional Chairperson Luke Byrne and Chief Media Officer John Monaghan on why Trinity needs a skateboarding society

Trinity is renowned for its prestigious societies, founded a hundred years ago with famous alumni and honoured guest speakers. Unlike other universities, including University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity seems to be noticeably lacking in smaller, more alternative societies and sports clubs. With skateboarding rising in popularity in recent years, the proposed DU Skate Soc (@duskatesoc on Instagram) hopes to be one of the first to alter this limited demographic. I sat down with Skate Soc Provisional Chairperson Luke Byrne and Chief Media Officer John Monaghan to unpack why Trinity is reluctant to authorise less mainstream societies.

Ruth: So how did you both first get into skateboarding?

Luke: I went into first year and became mates with John. John was into skateboarding and he was like: “Luke, you should get a skateboard!” We went down to the local skate shop in Dublin, High Rollers, and I bought my first skateboard. That was probably about a month before quarantine. I basically had seven months where I couldn’t leave my house other than to go skateboarding.

John: I’ve been into it for a little bit longer than Luke. I started when I was in fourth year in secondary school. My school was near Bushy Park and there’s a skate park there that I used to cycle past to get to school. I remember thinking “that looks really fun!” I saved up my Christmas and birthday money and bought my first deck.

Ruth: How do you think Trinity would benefit from having a skateboarding society?

John: The college itself probably wouldn’t benefit, but the people would.

It’s incredibly important to get representation for these alternative sports.

It’s not like skateboarding is even that alternative anymore, it’s in the Olympics. When I talk to my friends in UCD, they have a skateboarding society, albeit a small one. I think it’s important for people who have never really skated before, who might be intimidated to go to the skate park, to come along and have a shot.

Luke: If you grow up in Ireland, your sporting options are Gaelic or soccer. If you don’t fit into that, you don’t have a good outlet. I think it’s good to get sports out there that you can work on yourself and aren’t so goal-oriented. It’s not like hurling where at the end of the day you have a match that has a certain amount of points, it’s all artistry.

John: It’s not winning or losing, it’s the amount of people who I’ve met and become friends with through skateboarding. I’m not the best at skating, I’m more into the filming side, but you just meet a lot of cool people. You can choose your own pace and take away what you want from it.

Ruth: Do you think Trinity should be open to smaller, more alternative societies?

John: It is definitely noticeable that, compared to other universities, we don’t have a lot.

Luke: We started a petition on Monday of Freshers Week. We were just walking up to people and being like “Hey, do you want to sign this to start a skateboarding society?”

John: Lo and behold, now we are the proposed Skate Society!

Luke: There wasn’t a single person we walked up to that wasn’t like “That sounds awesome!” or “I can’t believe we don’t already have that.”

John: The amount of support we got between the Monday and Wednesday of Freshers Week was immense. We had people coming up to us like “You guys are from the Skate Society!” Skateboarding is kind of in the world’s eye at the moment so we’ve had people come up to us and be like “How can I help you guys out?”

Ruth: How can students who don’t skateboard support Skate Soc’s campaign to the Central Societies Committee (CSC)?

John: Follow our Instagram and get in touch with us!

Luke: We’re going to have a Google Docs petition that people can sign through the Instagram page. If people aren’t interested in getting involved directly, sign the petition, please!

Ruth: Can beginners get involved?

John: We want to emphasise that even if you can’t skateboard, you can get involved. A lot of people have a weird perception of what skateboarding is, but a huge part is the photography and filmmaking aspect. My passion is really filming and editing skateboarding videos, it’s where my heart lies. If someone is a photographer and they want to get into taking action shots of skateboarders, we can help out. If someone has never stepped foot on a skateboard but wants to give it a go or come to one of the events and watch a skate video with us, they’re fully welcome to. We’ll be throwing beginner events where we show you how to roll on a skateboard. On Instagram, we’ll do a series of videos explaining how to set up a skateboard, maybe a funny one where we talk about skateboarder lingo. We want to be inclusive to new people because when you go to the skate park for the first time, it can be super intimidating. Anybody can come to our events and just have fun!

Ruth: What events would you run if you got funding from the CSC?

John: We’re doing one soon, regardless of whether we become a society or not. It just means that we might have to shell out our own money, but that’s okay, I don’t mind that. We’re going to run a pub night! We’ll rent a room in a pub, put up a projector and play a skate video. People can meet each other and maybe go and skate afterwards. Then we’ll have beginner’s day at a skatepark. If we get funding, hopefully we’ll have extra boards.

Ruth: How economically accessible is skateboarding compared to other sports?

John: Skateboards can be expensive. My current skateboard cost about €200.

Luke: I always compare it to getting a bike, it’s about the same investment.

John: You pay a big upfront cost, but most skaters are broke, so it’s not that bad!

Ruth: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to learn to skateboard?

John: For falling at least, my advice is it’s not as bad as you think. One of the best ways to learn how to skate is to just fall. You just have to get back up, dust yourself off and keep going. You will learn to enjoy falling over, weirdly. Or come and talk to me and Luke, we’re happy to go skating with new people.

With its organised, enthusiastic committee members and the overwhelming support from students, Skate Soc is building a strong case to bring to the CSC. Only time will tell if its campaign will be successful, but the positive reaction from students speaks to a need for more wide ranging activities across campus.