Empowering Girls to Skateboard

Girls at the top of the world.


When was the last time you saw girls sharing the ramps and rails with their male counterparts at the skatepark? The answer is probably “there was that one time, I think … ” or possibly “never.”

But there are two Palisadian families who have made it their mission to change the game: Sandy Albores and her 6-year-old daughter Charlie, along with Ana Sastre and her 7-year-old daughter Martina. Both girls attend Palisades Elementary Charter School and have been skating since they were 5. They practice three times a week.

On Saturday, May 26, these families arranged for The Cove skatepark in Santa Monica to open two hours before its regular schedule and accommodate the first-ever “Girls Only” skate session from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Cove is a 20,000-square-foot skatepark, complete with ramps, bowls, stairs and a pool with tile coping. It has been a staple in the community for over a decade. Rick Boisdeau is the community and cultural services specialist at The Cove who fought for this event to take place.

The day was a roaring success. Twenty-five girls showed up to skate, and competitions were held with prizes from Rip City and Spit Fire Wheels. “I like skating because it’s about having fun and believing in yourself,” Martina told the Palisadian-Post while balancing effortlessly on her skateboard. Charlie added that she is learning how to land an Ollie, perform a Rock ‘n’ Roll and drop in safely from big ramps.

They look up to instructors Ryan Barbish and Bart Saric, who came out on Saturday to support the girls and offer tips to new skaters. “Skating is a rare sport where other people want you to excel,” Sastre told the Post, referencing how skatepark crowds often cheer on skaters even if they’re strangers. “But girls need to earn the respect of boys and find ways to feel empowered.”

Skateboarding actually originated in Pacific Palisades in the 1960s, with skate teams comprised of elementary and junior high school kids. Many skaters were also surfers as some of the movements mimic surfing. In 2012, a short film was made by Oscar-nominated cinematographer (and Palisadian) Don Burgess, called “Skateboarding’s First Wave.” It explored the early days of skateboarding in Southern California and highlighted pioneering Palisadians.

Now, young Charlie and Martina are paving the way for girls to get more involved in the exciting skating scene. And based on the positive response of the girls’ skate session, Santa Monica Parks and Recreation has approved monthly sessions at The Cove.

Let the games begin.