Test Your Athletic Abilities with Excos


Courtesy of Sk8Co

Sk8Co poses for a group photo on Lake Erie.

For many Oberlin students, getting involved in athletics can be intimidating and time consuming. ExCo’s, however, can be a great opportunity for people to get involved and test out athletic activities they’re interested in trying. They can also be a great avenue for those who participate in activities at home, but haven’t yet done so at Oberlin. These student-led courses are a great way to immerse yourself with people who share the same interests while creating a safe space for all skill levels to enjoy some fantastic athletic opportunities.

One of the ExCos on the Spring 2022 catalog is Sk8Co, where students learn the ins and outs of skateboarding. This includes the history and culture of skateboarding throughout the years and learning different tips and tricks, which are all put together for the goal of getting students comfortable with skateboarding by the end of the course.

College fourth-year and Sk8Co instructor Kush Bulmer says that one of the great aspects of the ExCo is that there is a great mix of experience, and that anybody who’s interested in skating can join the course. 

“This ExCo is for all skill levels!” Bulmer said. “Learning how to skate requires a lot of endurance and struggle, so having more experienced people give pointers and push you is helpful.” 

Bulmer is a passionate skater and wants to share his knowledge with people looking to grow. 

When asked about the most rewarding aspect of teaching this ExCo, Bulmer says he’s enjoyed helping people push themselves and watching them get excited about their progress and peers’ success. 

“This combination of peer and instructor support and guidance is really what makes ExCos unique, and [it’s] a great way to quickly jump in and learn something new,” he said.

College second-year Sarah Krohn, a member of Sk8Co, said that the encouragement of the ExCo’s community has enabled her to learn and grow.. 

“I have learned a couple of really good tips so far,” Krohn said. “More than anything, I just have the encouragement to try new tricks, which has helped me progress.”

Skating aside, Krohn says Sk8Co is also a great way to meet other people who share her hobbies. She also appreciates that when she’s pushed outside of her comfort zone, it helps to be with a group of people in the same boat.

“I have met a couple of new people that I didn’t know before, which is super nice to have with skating but also just with going to Oberlin,” Krohn said. 

Another ExCo Oberlin is offering this semester is Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art focused on basic movement, balance, coordination, timing, and technique. In the same vein as Sk8Co, this course can be taken by people with no experience in martial arts who need to focus on the basics or by extremely skilled martial artists. The end goal of the ExCo is to successfully test for the rank of 6th Kyu, which marks the completion of the basic techniques.

This ExCo is led by college fourth-year Julia Martin, who says that she’s loved Aikido since she was about 14 years old. 

Aikido has been instrumental in developing my mental and physical self confidence,” Martin said. “The most important way that aikido has benefited my life is that when I walk home alone at night, I feel like I could handle myself if something were to go wrong.” 

Martin also adds that in the past, students have overwhelmingly loved the course, and that people love it so much they take it multiple semesters. Another great part about the course is the growth students experience over time.

People are very scared to roll or fall — rightfully so — but by the end of the class, they are able to roll all around the room without issue,” she said. “Aikido is an art which takes a great deal of time to learn, so it is wonderful to see how well students are able to pick up the material over the course of a semester.” 

For those with a penchant for adventure, Introduction to Rock Climbing is another fantastic ExCo. 

Rock Climbing instructor, College fourth-year Aidan Cowie, expressed that the ExCo’s goal is for everyone to be comfortable with more difficult outdoor climbing after learning the basics like belaying, tying knots, and movement techniques such as bouldering.

College alum Kira Findley ’19 wrote a blog post in 2019, when she first joined the ExCo, that she was really excited to finally try something new in her last semester of college.

I’ve only had one class so far, but I am already incredibly sore from climbing,” she wrote. “It’s tough! But I’m looking forward to this challenge — it’s going to be a lovely part of my final semester.”

If none of those three seem like your cup of tea, Oberlin has many other ExCos to offer, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy! Make sure to check out the course catalog to explore the vast list of activities.