March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the impacts women have made to our communities and societies. These impacts are as varied as a field of wildflowers and just as beautiful and precious. History has deigned to record some names while others are remembered only by loved ones, family and friends, for those contributions, while not noteworthy to historians, are just as important to the individuals affected. Earlier this month I wrote briefly about some of the women that have influenced surfing through the years but then I began to wonder about skateboarding as well. It is regarded as a predominately male sport like surfing, so who are the women that have left their mark in skateboarding?
The name that first comes to mind is Patti McGee. Perhaps best known for the picture of her cruising gracefully with ease on a skateboard, her shoulder length blond hair pulled away from her face and wearing a colorful cropped blouse with mint green thigh length shorts, she was also the first Women’s National Skateboard Champion in Santa Monica in 1965. Other firsts she is known for include being the first professional female skateboarder and first female to be inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. All of this began with her first skateboard, a gift from her brother, that he had made in shop class using her roller skate shoe.
Another prominent name from those early years is Peggy Oki. She was the only girl on the Zephyr or Z-Boys competition team in the 1970’s, skateboarding with the legendary Tony Alva and Jay Adams. At the historic 1975 Del Mar Nationals she was the only member of the team to take home a first place trophy which was in Women’s Freestyle. She was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2012.
Since those early years many names like Ellen O’Neal (often referred to as the Godmother of Freestyle skateboarding), Cara Beth Burnside (first president of the Action Sports Alliance and winner of more than 16 competition titles), Elissa Steamer (winner of four X-Games gold medals), Patti Hoffman, Jen O’Brien and many others have continued to pursue the joy of riding concrete waves on a board with wheels. Some have their names are recorded in the history books for their impact on the sport of skateboarding, others, their names remembered and treasured by loved ones, family and friends for the impact they had. And for us, we recognize and thank all of them today.