For many students at NC State, the only interactions they have had with the skaters at Wolf Plaza involve trying to dodge flying skateboards and moving out of the way so they can land their next kickflip. It has become such an integral part of our class changes and walks to Talley that our ears register the sound of skateboards as white noise, but for the skateboarding community at NC State, this spot is much more than that.
Located next to the Free Expression Tunnel, Wolf Plaza is known as the main hangout site for skaters at NC State. As long as the sun is out, you can assume there is a group of people skateboarding at Wolf Plaza. Some may wonder why they have chosen this specific spot, since it is in the middle of a very traffic-heavy part of campus, but skaters like Jordan Ward, who comes to Wolf Plaza for about 2-3 hours each day, knows this isn’t just a coincidence.
“It’s just a good hanging spot,” Ward said. “Even when your friends are passing through to go to class, you see all of your homies pretty much every day. Everyone here is just so cool. When you come here, everyone has a good vibe, everyone’s mad friendly. Even the people who come out here and are damn near pros, they’re friendly to people that can’t ollie.”
This supportive community may be just what every student is looking for when they come to NC State. Many freshmen may feel they haven’t found their communities on campus just yet, while others, like Tristan Edwards, a first year studying fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, know they can come to Wolf Plaza every day to skate and be with their friends.
“The skateboarding community out here is a family,” Edwards said. “It’s a good bonding experience.”
Outside of campus, skateboarding isn’t always accepted. Historically, movies have liked to portray skateboarders as lazy or incompetent individuals. They are usually just included for comedic value, performing some prank or being problematic in some way. This portrayal can create a stereotype that negatively impacts skaters and make it difficult for them to skate out in public.
“If you go out in the city, you’ll get stopped by security, or police will pull up and be like, ‘Why are you here? You can’t skate here,’” Ward said. “It’s important to have a place where people can just skate. The location of Wolf Plaza also serves to create a more prevalent skate culture at NC State, since it is in the heart of main campus. Any student at NC State that wants to skate knows they can come to Wolf Plaza any day of the week and someone will be there to encourage and support them.
Skateboarding will make its debut as an event at the 2020 Summer Olympics, which goes to show it is becoming more respected every year since making its first breakthrough in popular culture in the 1950s. Seventy years later, it is now one of the most popular pastimes of students at NC State. Although some may still not understand the dynamic, ever-changing sport of skating, it is clear the skaters at Wolf Plaza are here to stay and will continue to make a positive impact on our campus.