Class starts in 10 minutes. Backpack is ready and homework is done. It’ll be close, but he’ll make it.
Chauncey McKinney grabs his car keys, puts them in his pocket and walks out the door and right past his 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer. McKinney picks up the pace then hops on his favorite mode of transportation.
The skateboard lazily rolls along the sidewalk, carrying McKinney across Florida A&M University’s campus.
McKinney, 19, began riding skateboards a year ago after watching his friends skateboard during his second semester at FAMU.
What started out as a hobby has morphed into much more for the second-year graphic design student from Miami.
“That’s just the way it is,” McKinney said. “It’s wake up, school, skate, sleep, repeat.”
McKinney doesn’t skate to compete or to turn pro. He skates because he thinks it’s fun and he enjoys doing it with his friends.
“Skating is a way of life,” McKinney said. “It takes me away from just everything, it’s just sweet, beautiful release. I don’t want to just go to school, do work and just watch TV with my friends. That is just too boring. I need that thrill, that rush like I almost lost [my life] but I’m still here.”
Although relatively new to the skating world, McKinney already has a catalogue of trick moves that he mostly displays on campus.
“The first step is figuring out whether you’re a regular or goofy skater,” McKinney said.
“That’s the whole balance thing. Then it goes to kicking, putting your foot on the back of the board, maintaining balance, then tricks and all of that will come later. [To start] you really just want to work on the basics of, well, not falling.”
McKinney has come to realize falling comes with the territory.
McKinney recalled one wipeout while rolling down a hill behind several cars. He misjudged his speed while focusing on the cars in front of him. Before he could correct his speed, McKinney flew off his board and landed face first on the concrete.
Cuts on the top lip, chin, left shoulder, right knee, chest, and both hands are the medals McKinney earned from that dismount, as well as a trip to the ER. It wouldn’t be his last visit.
“I don’t want to die without scars,” McKinney said. “The fun comes when the girls ask, ‘My God! Does that hurt? Then I just say, ‘Yeah it did for a bit.’ Seriously, the real fun comes from riding the board and having that freedom, just being one with the world.”
McKinney said he loves the thrill of skating through the city and its urban landscape. The truth is he just loves skateboarding anywhere.
“The world to me is a skate park,” McKinney said. “I think we all need that thrill, that sense of ‘daredevilness’ in our lives. Life is too short and too awesome to just let it pass you by.
Whether it’s skateboarding, freerunning, or… I don’t know… aggressive paper pushing, just go out and do something.”