Thom Larkin | Daily TidingsSam Soritino races across the SOU campus Tuesday afternoon during longboard races.

The inaugural longboard race at Southern Oregon University ended with a game of rock, paper, scissors, a surprising ending to an event that student competitors saw as equally unexpected.

"I'm stoked to see that public safety is blocking off the streets for us," said junior Mason Lehosky, who tied senior Riley Carter during the timed event, then lost the hand game tie-breaker. Usually, the campus public safety officers are more concerned with pedestrians sans skateboard, Lehosky said.

"We were really stoked that the school was putting on a race and actually doing something for once," said sophomore Eugene Strobeck, who slipped twice due to wet pavement, but still enjoyed the event. "I was kind of bummed that it rained, but you have to deal with the weather."

The race kicked off Raider Days, a week of spirit events designed to create more student traditions and positive memories, said Deborah Myers, the director of student activities and leadership at SOU. The student life team, led by Myers, formed this year to improve student life on campus and increase retention, she said.

"We had a sense from students that student life on campus wasn't to the level that it needed to be," Myers said. "There wasn't a whole lot of tradition that students could count on year after year."

The longboard race drew many students who don't usually participate in campus events, she said, including 15 competitors and many of their friends to cheer them on.

Erik Sol, the Outdoor Program coordinator who suggested the longboard race to the student life team, said the sport is extremely popular on campus.

"The university is wanting to generate activities that are contemporary and exciting and interesting to students today," Sol said.

In order to do that, more students should help create activities, because they are more likely to know what most appeals to their peers, Sol said.

The rest of the week is full of activities that will reach different segments of the student body and celebrate what makes SOU special, such as outdoor activities, art and environmental activism.

After the race, the school provided free ice cream sundaes to everyone, and today, students will be able to watch a movie on the lawn or theater performances in the Stevenson Union courtyard. Thursday is dedicated to the environment, and students can learn more about the school's purchase of green tags to offset electricity use or help pull weeds and plant flowers during "SOU Spruce Up." On Friday afternoon, the entire campus is invited to a barbecue on the front lawn.

Students watching the race said they liked the spirit of the event, although several were unaware of the activities happening later.

"I think having stuff like this is important on campus," said junior Emilie Entrikin who came to watch the start of the race. "It's something different from school and studying and homework."

The student life team is already planning changes to next year's Raider Days, such as more information in advance about longboarding culture, Myers said. The team is also working to improve the school's homecoming traditions and starting a new spirit event for the winter quarter.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .