Skatepark on campus: A four year journey


Cassidy O'Neil

Infographic about a half pipe at UNCA.

Cassidy O'Neil, [email protected], Arts & Features Writer

As a bright-eyed freshman I really didn’t know what the college experience was supposed to be, especially at UNC Asheville. 

I thought the best first step was to try and create a small change in my community while also finding other like-minded individuals. That’s when the idea of a half pipe on campus came to fruition. 

I have been on the board since the age of four and in the years since, I have spent nearly every other day practicing with the same work ethic you would see in any other sport or art. 

The only difference is one of these things does not transpire into college attention or support, and sadly for me that was skateboarding.

I genuinely enjoyed my passion, but it never went hand-in-hand with my academics; not by choice but by lack of opportunity. 

That was when I started to really question why my sport was not encouraged or financially supported like traditional sports are.

This all changed during 2020. That summer would officially introduce men’s and women’s skateboarding to the Olympics. 

Finally, after recognition on a national stage and amongst sports like track and basketball, I felt that universities would provide adequate training facilities for athletes to hone their skills with hopes of representing their country one day. 

Besides that I figured the creation of an entry level skate half pipe would not only allow these athletes to practice but encourage newcomers to dip their toes in the water without the pressure of a normal skatepark. 

I also dreamed of an outdoor location where students could flock to, similar to a quad or the Botanical gardens. A place where not only skaters but friends, significant others, food and music could be shared; a place that encouraged socialization. 

This idea didn’t seem far-fetched. The startup for a facility is low in reference to other larger investments starting in the $3,000 range. To prove interest I decided to go the old fashioned route and go student to student asking for signatures. 

Although we did get some confused faces, most people seemed excited by the idea of something unique and cool on campus.

We quickly surpassed 500 signatures which, judging by the UNCA student body of about 3,300, seemed like a sizable amount to me.

The next step was presenting the idea to the university through a presentation accompanied by the petition. 

Despite interest being through the roof on our initial correspondence after a couple of meetings discussing the future, everything came to a slamming halt as the year turned into 2020. 

With far more serious decisions at hand such as deciding when we would be going back to school, if it would happen virtually or in person and the myriad of other pandemic related questions that needed to be addressed, my skate dreams took their rightful place on the backburner of the university’s priority list.

That was until 2022, my last year at UNCA. I was contacted by Jay Cutspec, Director of Health and Counseling, with the hopes of rekindling that pre-pandemic spark. 

I was ecstatic. Not only did I feel like my freshman dream was nothing more than that, but Cutspec seemed interested in helping me fulfill my initial goal of leaving my mark on the place that developed me over the last four years. 

Cutspec mentioned needing the approval of David Todd, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Operations to make the project a reality. He would be in charge of planning, construction and maintenance. 

Luckily, Todd formerly skated early in his youth and has visited legendary parks like Tampa Pro in Florida. He was almost just as thrilled about the idea as I was. 

With the team assembled, the next step was finding a location that would be unobstructive to the current layout of the university.

The idea to keep the spot on campus but still tucked away seemed promising.

That was until Todd made the statement, “If we are going to do it we are going to do it right”, as he revealed his mock up plans for a multi obstacle skate area. 

I was quite literally stunned as something so simple but so far away actually could transcend into not only reality but surpass my wildest dreams. 

Expect an official design release, a full promotion package and a lot of happy skateboarders and students alike at UNCA next year!