Board Sports: Previewing Webb’s newest afternoon activity


Summer Chen

Dr. Riel performs an ollie.

Off of the Pacific Ocean, nestled between mountain ranges, and surrounded by palm trees, Webb should be the most authentic Southern California experience that a boarding school can offer. However, as Webb students throw themselves into an intense study environment, they often miss out.

With the inclusion of a new Unbounded course this year, SoCal Skateboarding Culture, that is starting to change. And moreover, Dr. Kevin Riel, humanities department faculty, brings a new and unconventional winter activity onto Webb campus — Board Sports. Growing up in a surfer family, Dr. Riel lived ten minutes away from the ocean, which was a major inspiration for him to start this activity. 

“Part of me wanting to do this activity is to share how much fun I had [when I was a teenager], having access to the ocean,” said Dr. Riel. “And I know that’s just not the reality for many Webb students.”

Dr. Riel plans to take the students to a variety of beaches, depending on ocean conditions, and teach them how to surf. Before the Webbies are ready to catch waves out in the ocean, they will undergo training on the Webb campus. Not only will he teach the students the basics of paddling and surfing in the pool, but he will also talk about topics such as water safety and taking proper care of equipment. 

Half of the activity will be dedicated to skateboarding. The students will watch instruction videos and learn skateboarding skills on the Webb campus in locations such as the tennis courts and the area by the Jones dorm, as well as outside of campus such as the Claremont Skate Park

Dr. Riel is excited to witness the joy and enthusiasm of Webb students when participating in this activity, especially those proud little moments when a student outdoes oneself and achieves something new. 

“Like when somebody catches their first wave, does something that they thought was impossible a couple weeks ago,” said Dr. Riel. “I am really looking forward to seeing that look on students’ faces of what is outrageously-clichely-known in the surfer community as stoked.” 

As Webb students begin to select their afternoon activities for next year, many have shown interest in this new addition of winter activity. 

“I have always wanted to try out skateboarding and surfing but never had the time or resources; this activity is just the perfect opportunity,” said Fiona Jiang (‘22). 

“We will see how things develop,” said Dr. Riel. “My hope is that the first year it’s just going to be very embryonic. We are going to be figuring out how this is going to work, what things we need to change.”

In the future, as he accumulates more experience and expands this activity, Dr. Riel hopes to truly imbue the Webb experience with the unique southern California experience and open the students up to new adventures.