Women who love skateboarding share stories in 2023
Adult women who skateboard are embracing this sport for a number of reasons. Some skated as kids but had no female role models or girlfriends to skate with. Others decided to give skateboarding a whirl when their own children expressed interest and they found themselves at skateparks or in their streets or driveways.
Women who skateboard in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, Melanie Bartlett stepped on a board for the first time about three years ago, at age 40 after her then-five-year-old daughter began taking lessons at Skate the Foundry, an indoor skate park in the city. She had been wanting to try skateboarding for many years and never had the opportunity. Melanie explained, “Over the span of a few weeks, as I saw my daughter learning, I was inspired. I learned that skateboarding could be broken down into steps that made it more accessible and less intimidating. Then I bought myself a skateboard, safety gear — and the rest is history. I love it and I’m empowered by each little skate goal I conquer.”
As Melanie progressed, she fostered friendships with skaters of all levels and ages, whom she refers to as her “crew.” She plays an integral role in organizing meet-ups in parks around Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Her time spent at the skateparks has certainly paid off…not only does she have many new friends, but she’s also featured in the upcoming film, “Skate Femme” by Ryan Doherty and Anna Danielle Moore, scheduled to be released in 2021.
Melanie loves to cheer on other new skateboarders and has been instrumental in encouraging Skate the Foundry, a private indoor Philly skatepark, to introduce adult lessons over two years ago – a first in the city. Skate the Foundry owners (and husband and wife team) Brett Williams and Yui Matsuzaki soon discovered that most of the adult students who signed up for classes were female.
Learning to skateboard as an adult
Williams said, “I expected about eight people to show up for the first class. However, we had over 25 and it was an overwhelmingly positive response. We’ve found the adult women to be enthusiastic and serious about learning and practicing.” And now, over two years later, Skate the Foundry now offers intro and advanced adult beginner lessons, added a variety of outdoor classes, and has a loyal adult following. (Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Skate the Foundry has implemented strict safety precautions and ensure all of the students are wearing masks, keeping a safe distance from each other and of course, wearing safety gear).
He continued, “We’ve added a lot of features and benefits to the classes — such as stretching, homework assignments and open practice times. Several adults also told me that they substitute our skate classes for going to the gym. We are thrilled with the excitement we are seeing.”
Women’s skateboarding inspiration
Jean Rusen, in her early 50s, lives in Tempe, AZ and started ripping up the skate park at age 25. At the time, she remarked that she was considered by many to be “too old” to learn. Over the years, she improved, landed tricks, won contests, and now judges a few events each year. She’s part of a female skate crew, “Las Chicaz,” that hosts adult clinics with big turnouts.
Older skaters, Jean says, are go-getters (both inside and outside of the half-pipe). “What surprised me about skateboarding is how motivated and helpful many of those ‘older’ skaters are. I skate with friends who started in their 40s, or returned to skating after years away. Many of these people have started skate-related charities, hosted skate events and created skate companies – all while still holding down full time jobs.”
Women who skateboard – practice makes perfect
Another Gen-Xer, Andra Dunn, lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She first tried skating with her teenage son years ago (he’s in his mid-20s now), but gave it up and didn’t attempt again until 2016, when she started practicing and saw signs of improvement. She skates with men and women of all ages, and suggest that newbies should “pad up” (wear safety gear).
Andra laughed, “Although I’m in my 40s, my brain says I’m 27. I wish I could convince more people my age to start skating because it is an overwhelmingly positive experience. It allows you to get out of your comfort zone — and the life lessons are immense.”
She pointed out that these life lessons work both ways, too. “I feel that I inspire the younger skateboarders as much as they inspire me. They see me and know that they don’t have to walk away from skating just because they’re getting older. And that’s a great attitude to have when you love skateboarding. So just do it – even if you’re the only one in the park.”
Skateboarding in Los Angeles
Originally from Japan, Kay (Kyoko) Hicks skates nearly every day in the Los Angeles area and posts her progression videos on Instagram (@LAsk8mom). Kay’s son happens to be a former professional skater (Ace Sugimoto), although she only started skating in recent years.
Kay is also in her 50s and says, “I came back to the skateboarding world last year, and now I have a bigger goal of skating the “snake run” at the Venice Skatepark in California. It’s one thing on my bucket list. I won’t give up until I reach my goal — even if it takes a lot of time.”
What are her tips for adult skaters getting into skateboarding? She advises, “Don’t give up, don’t work too hard — and be sure to listen to your body. Take care of yourself and always stretch before and after skating. Please don’t compare yourself to others or skip the basics…and most importantly, just have fun!”
Skateboarders of all ages who wish to meet up with others worldwide, join these Facebook groups: