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Features Last Updated: Oct 18th, 2006 - 15:35:44

Skateboarding Girls Take Over the Parks
By Jo Marie Riedl
Oct 18, 2006, 15:34

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From the “never-evers” to the more experienced skate girls, a mass of ladies hopped on their boards and took over the Ballard skate bowl. On October 1st, during the Ballard Sustainability Fest, females swarmed the bowl picking up new skills together and having a great time in the process. Workshops and events like these are just some of the few things a local skate group, Skate Like a Girl (SLAG) does for the underground, and oftentimes overlooked, counterculture movement of female skateboarding. SLAG holds weekly skate jams, a 7-day summer camp, and various instructional clinics for girls.
About 15 girls showed up for this event, with ages ranging from 4 to 47 years.
“It was definitely much easier doing it [learning to skate] within a group of women,” said Crystal Perry, mother of an 8-year-old skateboarder, who decided to try the clinic because her son always tries to get her on a board.
“Learning with a group of girls is less intimidating,” notes Cary Shannon, age 16, after just learning how to pump and turn in the bowl. She’s tried to learn before with a group of guys but found that they “tend to give up [on her] easily.”
By and large, the male skaters at the Ballard bowl are mostly accepting, with one exception. When co-directors of SLAG. Holly Sheehan and Fluer Larsen asked for the bowl to be cleared for the clinic, one man protested, “I only get one hour a week to do this!” and refused to clear. Sheehan simply responded with, “Some of these girls don’t get anytime a week to do this.” Sheehan says that while situations like this do occur sometimes, the relationship they seek with all fellow skaters is a harmonious one, male and female alike.
“We’ve been building a really good base of male allies of all ages, who are well respected within the skateboarding community and who are willing to intervene [if it happens],” Sheehan says.
The group seeks to create a strong female presence within a community typically dominated by men. They’re also striving to keep strong ethics of communal collaboration and non-profit roots by staying away from corporate sponsors.
“We’ve consciously turned down offers, everything from MTV to Red Bull…” Sheehan says. As SLAG. works toward building up their organization, they’ve preferred to solicit support from local businesses such as the 35th Skateshop, and have accepted many donations from private individuals. Future plans include getting regular funding, expanding programming, and becoming an all-ages non-profit organization.

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