For some Calgary skateboarders, being outsiders led them to a place of belonging. Women, girls and non-binary people didn’t feel equally represented in the male-dominated sport of skateboarding.
Erica Jacobs said her own experiences inspired her to create a culture and positive environment.
“It found me as much as I found skateboarding,” she said. “It was meant to be in my life.”
“I purposefully, as a skater, wanted to look like a boy.”
“I had baggy jeans and baggy T-shirts and a ballcap. You didn’t want everybody looking at you. You didn’t want to be the focal point of being the only female skater in the room,” Jacobs said.
But she eventually fell in love with being a female skater and built a non-traditional community of her own.
“I wanted to showcase this whole other side of skateboarding no one has ever seen before,” Jacobs said. “It wasn’t just males doing the sport and we deserve to have a place in the sport.”
Jacobs started 100 per cent skate club eight years ago, never realizing the true scope of the impact.
“The local skateboarding shops are selling more skateboards to women than men.
“I never thought that day would happen and here we are,” Jacobs said.
“We started with eight of us and it’s been an upward trajectory ever since. We have had to cap it at 65.”
She has recruited young mentors to help her foster a place for greater visibility and more representation in skateboarding.
Isa Middelton dropped in to the skate club years ago and started as a mentor this year.
“There’s a lot of cis men and being a part of this whole group. To be able break free from that has been eye opening,” Middelton said.
“Being a mentor and seeing women supporting women is driving me to do more and take up space.”
She appreciates the welcoming environment.
“It’s been a safe space and it’s been somewhere I can express myself and be true to myself,” Middleton said.
Emily Roadhouse, 23, loves inspiring the next generation.
“It’s great to know you can be that person in someone’s life that you wish you had when you were younger in terms of someone to look up to,” Roadhouse said.
She said it was intimidating when she started, but there has been a significant shift in the culture.
“It can be discouraging when you show up to skatepark and you’re the only woman there, you feel on the outside.
“It’s empowering coming together with other women who have dealt with those struggles and domineering the park in that way,” Roadhouse said.
Everything about it is non-traditional. In this club, there are women in their 50s, moms and daughters, people with different abilities and communities.
Matt Friese, 13, is also a member of the club.
“As a trans person, I’m welcome here. It makes me feel included. When I go by myself, I am not surrounded by people who are like me, I’m surrounded intimidating guys, but these people love and support me,” Friese said.
Sydney Radford said it’s always fun.
“Once you find your people, it’s amazing.”
“You feel so cool skating around and other people may be thinking: ‘Wow, she’s so cool!’ Maybe they’re not thinking that, who knows, but it’s awesome,” Radford said.
Scarlet Jeans is also a member and is loving it.
“I started two years ago and I was really into it, and then my parents got me a bunch of gear and here I am,” Jeans said.
Jacobs said she hopes the club continues to grow.
“When people show up, you let them in to be a part of this 100 per cent family,” Jacobs said.