Skateboarder, journalist and CSUF alumnus Zane Foley laced his nagging left achilles up in a brace as he prepared himself for another day at North Hollywood Skate Plaza, where he shreds its ledges and manual pads.
Whether it be an injury, a negative police encounter or a 10-page philosophy paper, Foley’s love for skateboarding has stuck with him for the past 16 years, catapulting him through adversity and toward a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
“Growing up, (skateboarding) became my vessel of dealing with adolescence. I became extremely dedicated to it,” Foley said.
Foley, who graduated from CSUF in 2015, has left his imprint in the skateboarding industry both through his ability to skate and write.
He’s been sponsored by Cellular Skate, a skate shop in Rancho Cucamonga, featured in a video on TransWorld SKATEboarding and has even had articles published in The Berrics, a renowned skateboarding site founded by professional skateboarders Eric Koston and Steve Berra.
Foley has also been involved with the College Skateboarding Education Foundation (CSEF) a nonprofit organization based in California created to give skateboarders in college a shot at scholarships. It’s the only college skateboard scholarship fund operating on a national level.
Through this organization, Foley has created a scholarship named after him, which he has yet to award to somebody.
When deciding on who to interview for CSEF’s introduction video, Keegan Guizard, co-founder of the skateboarding foundation, said choosing Foley was a “no-brainer.”
“He fits the criteria of ‘life for a skater’ … and he’s an educated man” Guizard, who also skates, said. “Whenever we go skate, it’s always (skateboarding), whenever he goes home, it’s always work and he’s doing his thing. He balances life really well.”
But being a skateboarder and a student don’t always go hand in hand.
Skateboarding cliques like the Piss Drunx, notorious for their partying and wild antics, put forth a negative image of being a skater.
“The landscape is changing slowly. For the longest time, skateboarding was viewed as … just drink beer, smoke weed and go skate, f— school. That’s always kind of been the thing,” Guizard said.
But Foley wanted to challenge this stereotype and show it’s possible for skateboarders to have a “good head on their shoulders.”
Eventually he figured out it wasn’t the struggles of balancing his skateboard career while nailing it in the classroom that became a difficulty; it was being judged by the people around him.
“A lot of skateboarders feel like they have to pledge allegiance to skateboarding so wholeheartedly that they’re not allowed to pursue other things,” Foley said.
He was also the youngest in his family to be accepted a four-year university, adding fuel to the fire to get through college.
Foley graduated high school in 2010 and knew college was something he wanted, but he didn’t know where it was going to take him.
After getting accepted into CSUF and accidentally missing his orientation day (due to the misread print which forced him to write an appeal to follow through with his admission), Foley embarked on his undergraduate career majoring in philosophy.
“I chose philosophy because it wasn’t me being cookie-cut into the job force or about me becoming an accountant, or this major to this factor. I just wanted to study the world and people and learn about myself,” Foley said.
Even after all the partying and occasionally ditching class as a CSUF student, Foley said his success in the classroom was a testament to his mother’s influence.
“She said, ‘You know what, you can skate and go to college and not get a job, as long as you’re making the dean’s list and as long as you’re getting good grades,’” Foley said.
During his senior year on campus, Foley crossed paths with fellow skateboarder, now alumnus Andrew McLean in a philosophy class.
McLean is a journalist as well and featured Foley in a Daily Titan article about the banning of skateboarding on campus after Foley was cited by an officer for skateboarding to class.
Since then, McLean considers Foley one of his good friends, bouncing article ideas off of him whenever he needs the input.
“Whether it be something I feel is controversial or whether it be an article topic, I usually will take it to him because I know that he would be honest and I appreciate the way his mind works,” McLean said.
In 2015, Foley reached his graduation day with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 and a major GPA of 3.7.
At first, he downplayed the idea of attending his graduation ceremony but realized what a milestone the achievement was.
“What I accomplished here can never be taken away from me,” Foley said. “You can lose a job, you can have a divorce, there’s a lot of stuff in life you can lose, but this degree is tied to me for life.”
After graduating, Foley committed to his passion for freelancing as a journalist. Writing has always been something Foley felt he had a knack for, going as far back as first grade.
And, of course, even while pursuing his career as a writer, Foley is still skateboarding and loving every single minute of it, just as he’s always been.
“Even if I lost all my sponsors, even if my skill level dropped, even if I didn’t go pro, I would never stop being a skateboarder,” Foley said.