Project may wipe out unique skateboarding class

Shirtless and showing off tattoos, Marcus Dorin, the Chico State University skateboarding class instructor, looks more like a student than a teacher.

But from the moment he starts to speak it is clear that his concerns are those of a dedicated instructor.

“They’ll give me a class but no classroom,” Dorin said of the skateboarding class, supposedly the first of its kind in the world. “I’ve had zero university help. The university has put no money into this.”

Dorin is upset because Chico State administrators are thinking of canceling the skateboarding program indefinitely to make way for a building project that will tear out many of the tennis courts and replace them with classrooms and offices. As a result, tennis classes are also in jeopardy.

“We don’t have a choice,” said Richard Trimmer, Physical Education and Exercise Science Department chairman. “It’s not that I’m opposed to the [skateboarding] program; it’s just that we don’t have the space.”

While space may be at a premium, interest in the class certainly is not—it’s full of skating students.

Freshman Scott Harris is enrolled in the class and doesn’t understand why the university has many play fields that aren’t being used the majority of the time, but there is no space for the skate class.

“All we need is a quarter of one of those fields to put our ramp on,” Harris said. “If they shut the class down, they’d just show how closed-minded they were.”

Most of those in the skateboarding class, and other skaters in the community, believe that the university would be making a huge mistake if it were to cancel the class. Chico High senior Patrick Armstrong said, “It’s the first skateboarding class in the world; how are they gonna kill it?”

Dorin isn’t going to let his class die without a fight. “I’ll go to whatever extremes necessary to further the cause,” he said. “People are interested in learning this.”

Skateboarding is not the only popular physical education program at Chico State that may be getting canceled.

In July, eight of the 14 university tennis courts will be torn out and replaced by a building, leaving no facilities for tennis classes and an uncertain future for the university tennis program.

While Trimmer regrets that tennis may have to be given up, he said that the building takes priority. The structure, which will house physical-education labs, classrooms and offices, begins construction this summer and is supposed to be finished in late spring or early summer of 2003, Trimmer said.

A portion of the courts is supposedly going to be rebuilt after the completion of the building, allowing tennis classes to resume. In the meantime, the tennis program that the university has had for years will be put on hold.

Tennis player and senior at Chico State Joe Prather said, “It’s pretty pathetic that a state college can’t even provide adequate PE facilities.”

Chico State Outdoor Education Director Bob Russ said both the tennis and skateboarding programs are important. “There are a number of us who aren’t just going to roll over and let classes be cancelled,” he said. “I can assure you that I’m not going to do that.”

For now, both programs remain on the university class schedule for fall 2001, even though some department instructors believe neither will resume next semester.

Stephen King, dean of the College of Communication and Education, didn’t return several calls for comment concerning the future of these programs.

Dorin hopes that the university will “see the light” and recognize just how much students enjoy the skate class. He said Chico State is missing a big opportunity to further contribute to the “fastest-growing youth sport.”

"More people are showing up than I know what to do with. We’ve got a fastball coming in high; let’s hit a homerun."