So stoked to share this chat we had with our East coast sister. Her rad soul shines through in this candid conversation. Also – COWS!
Hello Dear Katie, how are you?
Hello! I am doing well, a bit cold during the Winter months though.
Hugs. Do you get to skate at all these days?
Yes! As long as the roads are not covered in snow I will skate. Leathers are nice and warm, also there is this amazing piece of apparel called a “Push Culture Hoodie” this thing covers your face and the hood fits over your helmet-I’m slightly obsessed with it.
Does it come in bacon pink?
Haha, it should! I think the good people at “Push Culture” are big fans of bacon, so I don’t know why they haven’t released one in that colour.
Where are you from?
Born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I lived in Philadelphia for a few years, but I am living in my hometown again. I travel somewhat frequently around the country during the warmer months, mainly on skateboard related adventures.
How did skateboarding find you?
When I was growing up I played around on friend’s skateboards, but it wasn’t until about 2008 that I bought my first skateboard-a Sector 9 longboard. Living in Philadelphia at the time, my bike was stolen and I figured a longboard was a more fun/affordable way to commute around the city. I was certainly hooked after that.
“I found that riding a skateboard helped me clear my mind in a way that riding a bike never did.”
What did you like about it?
In the urban environment, commuting on my longboard allowed for more creativity on the streets and was more fun. Also it was easier to take my board into places vs. locking my bike outside. I found that riding a skateboard helped me clear my mind in a way that riding a bike never did.
Who else was longboarding then?
In 2009, I met someone on my campus who told me about a push race called “The Shoekill” in Philadelphia. I attended the race and there were three other females present – Nathalie Herring, Jenica Davenport, and Sara Paulshock from New York City’s “Bustin Crew”. These ladies introduced me to the world of female longboarding, and have been an inspiration for me along the way.
How did meeting them change skating for you?
They opened up my eyes to the female longboarding community. I had no idea there were other girls out there riding longboards. Skating with other females is more comfortable that skating with males at times, it is a lot less competitive and provides more confidence for growth and learning new things on a board. Jenica and I (along with a few other lady skaters) started getting into downhill together a couple of years ago.
Who is Nathalie?
Nathalie Herring aka Nat2Legit is a badass skate chick from Queens, NY. She has more swag than the average person, but what I love most about her is that she always keeps it real! Nat has always been there for me, she is a great friend and cool as hell!
What is the female longboard community?
The sport predominantly consists of males, the small (but growing) percentage of females who participate in the sport make up the female community. We have globally grown by large numbers since I started riding a longboard, and I think a lot of thanks has to be given to the Longboard Girls Crew for that. The media they produce is a great reflection of girls who currently skate and it has reached a lot of ladies and encouraged them to ride.
“The Longboard Girls Crew serves a good purpose, it connects all of us lady-shredders and provides a platform for us to encourage other ladies to skate and I feel empowered being a female on a skateboard”
Is it important to have a Longboard Girls Crew?
Yes, I believe so. The Longboard Girls Crew serves a good purpose, it connects all of us lady-shredders and provides a platform for us to encourage other ladies to skate and I feel empowered being a female on a skateboard as, even in our modern times, skateboarding is seen as something for guys by many cultures. In reality, it is not a gender specific sport, and I am happy to be a member of the female minority.
How would you increase female participation in longboarding?
Sometimes people are initially turned-off to longboarding because it seems too gnarly. If it is presented in a welcoming, laid back manner, I think more females would be inclined to try it, and hopefully get hooked once they experience the fun and freedom found through riding a longboard. There are a lot of great “high profile” female role models out there now that are drawing girls to the sport- Katie Neilson, Alicia Fillback, and Amanda Powell are probably among some of the favourites, they are killing it and seem to be gaining attention for females in the sport.
In what ways did you progress once you found others to skate with?
Skating with others opened my eyes up to different styles of riding. At first I was a commuter/cruiser, then I discovered dancing, later sliding, then downhill – each time I saw someone else doing something cool on a skateboard I was just kind of like “holy crap I want to do that!” I remember practicing for days and days trying to learn how to slide. I was so awful at it at first, but I really wanted to be able to slide. Finally I figured it out… after sacrificing a lot of skin in the process.
What was the most fun to do?
Downhill is the most fun, there is nothing like it. I feel at one with the universe- totally fun and fulfilling. I love being in the moment.
Did you do all that on your old S9?
I only rode the S9 for about a year, by the time I met the girls in Philly I was riding a Holesom Street Sweeper- A flexy hemp board with holes. I helped David from Holesom (along with a few others around the country) develop the first Street Sweeper deck. Once I started sliding, I turned to a Rayne Isis, which is still my favourite board to this day.
What is Holesom?
Holesom started as a deck company based out of Laguna Beach, CA. The founder, David Williams wanted to create a flexy deck that was similar to surfing on land. He developed a Hemp & Bamboo layered model that was first called “Holey Roller” and eventually “Street Sweeper”. Holesom still creates decks, however now are more known for their colourful and scented slide pucks. I am very thankful for the opportunities David provided me through his sponsorship, we have since parted ways mainly because I wanted to do my own thing skate-wise. He has great creative skills and lots of passion, I wish he and Holesom nothing but success.
What was the community in Philly like then?
Then, Philly had a handful of longboarders, I moved out of the city in late 2009 back to the farmlands of Lancaster. The Philly scene has grown significantly since my departure largely in part to “Philadelphia Longboarding” founder Matt Micchelli, who organized group skates. Back in Lancaster the scene was even smaller, I found only two other longboarders: Scott Hurdleston and Austin Priester.
Have you been able to go back and skate with the new Philly gang?
Yes, I have been back to Philly a few times. The gang there is rad!
What’s peculiar about the Philly scene?
In Philly the longboarders seem to be more “street skate” oriented. There are a couple good skate parks in the city, and not many hills, so I think even with longboarding the style leans more towards it’s skateboarding roots.
Did you have a name for your gang of 3?
Amish Downhill. Amish because Lancaster is home to a large population of Amish communities. Scott and Austin are my homies. Others have since joined our gang, Omeed Hurtubies and Zakk Hall are two young dudes with tons of skate potential. Our scene has grown but is still small, these days my main focus is to grow our local skate industry and connect with related local businesses in an effort to support our goals and grow our local economy. I would like to help some of our local talent gain some exposure.
What kind of stuff did you 3 get up to?
Scott, Austin, and I met for the first time in a Parking Garage. It was empty and we were able to skate a handful of runs before a Security Guard chased us out. He didn’t catch us, and we were able to find refuge in a coffee house nearby. We decided to get together and skate again after that at a local hill. The boys promised to teach me how to slide.
How did you feed the need for speed when you moved to Lancaster?
I wanted to go fast! But I was scared, mainly of the unknown variables involved in open road skating (cars, little dogs, etc.). The first step for me was learning to properly stop. Once I was able to get the hang of sliding I kept practicing going faster and stopping until I was confident that I would be able to stop at any speed if I needed to. Knowing that made me more comfortable with facing open road variables, thus more opportunities to go fast and more fun.
Cows must be hard to dodge on open roads!
Luckily farmers keep them contained and off of the roads most of the time. What you want to look out for are “Road Apples” which is the waste produced from the Amish vehicle “Horse and Buggy”.
When did you get comfortable going fast?
Once I knew I could stop at any speed and had a few crashes under my belt going fast was no longer scary and became purely fun. Skating fast around other people was the next step for me, and that is a whole different experience! My favourite pack runs were during a freeride at Maryhill Loops.
What do you enjoy about skating fast?
Being in the moment. The adrenaline rush is nice too.
Was Maryhill your first ever freeride?
2012 was my first Maryhill Freeride, I attended the Ladies Freeride. I have been back once since then, to the 2013 Ladies Freeride, and hope to return more than once in 2014. During all of my travels I have really have fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest- so rich in natural beauty.
Did you get up to anything interesting in 2011?
2011 was a year of push races and slide jams. I competed in the New York stop of the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon World Tour, won the “Philly Shoekill” for womens, and at the NYC Broadway Bomb finished in 3rd place for Women. That was my 2nd Broadway Bomb, and probably the most surreal. I didn’t stop at 1 traffic light south of 116th st in Manhattan.
Sounds like Jenica and Sara really influenced you!
They have, Jenica especially I look up to a ton, along with Nathalie and a number of other females from the New York City scene- Cami Best kills it as well. She is a naturally talented athlete who excels in the push and freestyle scene and easily picked up downhill even though NY lacks hills. Monica Mejia is a NY transplant from Colombia who has inspired my progress through downhill as well. Jessica Corchia has unreal talent, she is a complete OG and legend. Maribeth McHugh is an NYC OG as well, she inspires me greatly. My home is close enough to New York that I can visit with these ladies somewhat regularly, and there are still not too many lady skaters close to Amishland so it is always nice to meet up with them and shred. They are some of my best friends, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
What’s fun about distance skating?
Honestly, not a lot! haha. Distance skating is a ton of hard work, but I find it to be rewarding. Long pushes are still one of my favorite forms of a cardiovascular workout. In an urban atmosphere pushing is more fun because you are presented with more obstacles to work through (pedestrians, potholes, cars, bikes.. etc). It seems more like “traffic surfing” than hard work. I find Long Trek adventures to be rad though, guys who are self-sufficient and skate across countries like Paul Kent are legends for sure, respect.
“…I won $20 from that race(Broadway Bomb), and to this day I still have that exact bill. I will never spend it.”
What are your biggest distance achievements?
Broadway Bomb 2011 was a big one, I was so scared to participate in the 2010 Bomb (my 1st) and then to finish well the follow up year was fulfilling for me. I won $20 from that race, and to this day I still have that exact bill. I will never spend it.
Where did skateboarding take you last year?
I consider 2012 to be my first “real” year skating downhill. I had skated down hills before, but this was the first year that I created goals for myself to develop a certain skill set and to improve to certain point. I participated in my first downhill race “Penn State Downhill” hosted by the Penn State University Longboard Club and Buzzed Precision Trucks. This was followed by Major Stok’em a few weeks later. I made a pact with a few of my friends that we would develop our skating enough to take on Maryhill for the Ladies Freeride. Scott helped me through a lot of this process when I was away from my friends, I owe a lot of my downhill progress to his efforts in teaching me and bringing me to spots.
How did it feel to ride down maryhill?
Surreal/Awesome. Pure stoke, this is my favourite road. The first time at Maryhill for the 2012 Ladies Freeride I had unlimited amounts of stoke to just be at that location. I had only seen it in videos and photos, so to actually skate that road was a dream come true. 2013 Ladies Freeride was rad as well, I was a lot more comfortable with downhill and could hold my tuck longer through the course. For me it was cool to have skaters like Brianne Davies and Katie Neilson present. When I started longboarding they were the top in the world, to be able to skate with them at Maryhill was a “check” off of the bucket list. I love that place, so much respect.
What do you love most about Maryhill?
It’s a sexy road. The curves, pavement, & setting are perfect. Historically, it is the first paved road west of Colorado (or something like that), and to this day is privately owned. It’s not too far from the Columbia River where Lewis and Clark explored. We camp along the river when we are there, its beautiful. I’ve never seen such a clear night sky-so many stars. Also in the morning it is a beautiful scene to wake up to with golden grass and a river in the foreground and huge mountains in the distance. I have a scar from Maryhill, I cherish it more than my tattoos.
Was there a Mary at the she-ride?
Oh man! I don’t know! Mary were you there? Haha I really don’t think there was a Mary… I think that might be Amanda’s middle name? Someone should get married there though. I would love an invite, but only if there’s an open bar.
What’s your poison?
I am quite passionate about skateboarding and all that it brings to my life, but the majority of my average day is consumed with working for a financial institution. This kills me, I do this out of monetary necessity. Skateboarding and Whiskey help counteract this for me.
If every job paid a dollar a day, what would you do?
I would be an artist of some sort, I love to create.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Life of Pi, suggested to me by my dear friend Moni.
Does the freeride have any impact on the female community?
YES. It brings female skaters of all levels (World Champion to beginner) in a setting where the more experienced riders can mentor the newer riders. It encourages growth and holds no expectations. More females should attend, it’s never been sold out but I hope the freeride continues in years to come. I’m pretty sure Dean O and the Maryhill Ratz lose money by holding the ladies only “SHEride”, but they continue to do it. I am very grateful for them, this freeride is a unique event that I will attend as long as they continue to hold it.
Are there a lot of fast events on the East?
Yes! Soldiers of Downhill in Ohio (I have yet to race this one), “I <3 Downhill” in Windham, NY, and Munnsville Gravity Fest are a few fast events on the East. Our East Coast scene is still growing, we do not yet have an organized race series. The IGSA had the Windham event as part of their NorAm series in 2011, but there is rumor of a strictly East Coast race series in the works.
Does the East have enough places to host a series?
Absolutely. We have the Appalachian Mountain range which provides a lot of fun terrain down the entire coast. I think it is mainly a matter of capital, organization, and willingness to organize such a series. Not every local scene may be willing to “give up” their gem locations to the world, and understandably so. I do however believe that such a series has a potential to bring economic benefits to each town hosting a race location if executed properly (i.e. Mike G’s Central Mass Longboard Festival brought something like $40k to Harvard, MA). Additionally, there are a handful of smaller skate companies on this coast that could benefit from a series like this. With a few exceptions, our East Coast industry is supported by guys who support their skate businesses by working other jobs full time.
Have you organised any events?
Official events, no. Each year in April I hold a “Birthday Session” at some of my favorite local spots in Amishland. The idea is to invite my lady skate friends so we can shred my favourite spots in a chill environment, then of course party at night. Of course guys are welcome, but the main focus is on the ladies.
What gave you the biggest smiles last year?
Following through on the pact that I made with a few lady friends to take on downhilling and skate Maryhill by the time we attended the Ladies Freeride. We were all so stoked on our accomplishment that we marked ourselves permanently with matching tattoos.
How is 2013 going?
2013 is going well. Skating and personal life have been great! I am very happy.
Where did your skating year start?
Other than skating local spots with Scott and Austin, the first “official” event for me this year was Push Culture Family Picnic in Burke, Vermont. This was a freeride on a crazy mountain road that eventually was “snowed out”. We did skate a few runs in the blizzard. I recall Jenica and I skating/sliding/falling quite a few times in those conditions, it was a blast! Other than that the following event was “I <3 Downhill” in Windham, NY.
How did you do in the races?
I placed 4th at “I <3 Downhill”, the PC Family Picnic event was a freeride, and the other race I competed in was Mike Girard’s “Central Massachusetts Longboard Festival”- I did not place in this race. Overall I am not entirely competitive, but do have fun skating at races even though I don’t take my results too seriously.
Do you write any skate stuff?
In the past I have written for Push Culture, but regularly I don’t write for a blog or column or anything. I do have a twitter (@717kfry) where I mainly post my 140 character input on skate stuff and life, but a lot of North Americans think twitter is lame, so I doubt many around here have seen it. That is okay with me though, the Europeans and Africans seem to be the coolest anyway.
If skaters cared what people said, life would be boring. There must be a rebel in you!
Certainly! I tend to be unassuming, or under the radar most of the time but I do strongly believe in individual freedom. Without being too specific (hello big brother!), if I believe a law or common way of society to be unjust I will not comply, for me this is the best way to rebel (lead by example). In terms of skateboarding, I find it ridiculous when government makes it illegal to ride. At it’s basic function a skateboard is a vehicle, a way of transportation. (If you did not catch the big brother reference, please read 1984, Orwell.)
Do they people in your bank know you’re a badass?
Yes, and they love me for it-I have skate pictures at my desk so its not a secret, haha! I love when I have new road rash to show them-it really freaks them out! Mainly its great though, because I take the “lazy skater” stereotype and prove doubters wrong, I am quite successful with my job performance. I think they wish they could be as much of a free spirit as I am (a co-worker once described me as a wild horse, seeking a pasture to run freely through…) able to be through skateboarding, and I hope they find a way to do that for themselves.
Will you ever break free?
Yes, definitely. For now I have been given the opportunity to work (I have not always been so lucky) and pay down debt from going to college (fuck you student loans! biggest scam ever!!), while simultaneously being able to afford skate related travels on my own. At least for now I am able to have balance, but even though I feel shackled I know the future is bright and I will move on to better things. I believe life is purposeful, this too will run its course-If I do not endure this hardship how will I fully be able to appreciate what is to come?
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Bikram Yoga. Also, I recently taught myself how to screenprint, so I make random t-shirts mainly of Amish Downhill graphics. Also I hang out with my dog; I have a rescue dog named Ruby, she is a Pitbull/Jack Russell Terrier mix. Ruby and I go for long walks and hikes, she is high energy and does like to tow me on my skateboard from time to time. Also, I hang out a lot with Scott (Ruby loves Scott)- he likes to accompany Ruby and I on our adventures, we enjoy his company as well <3.
What’s your current favourite setup?
Rayne Isis (the Isis is a retired yet brilliant model), Buzzed Trucks, Phat Deanz Wheels. The new Five Mile Widowmaker looks nice though, and I am hoping to get one under my feet soon, I think it could easily rival the Isis.
Are any of those your sponsors?
No. I am sponsored by Longboard Loft NYC (a skateshop). I have been using the abovementioned gear for a while now, I am comfortable with my setup.
What are your plans for next year?
The only thing on my radar for 2014 is more skateboarding. Hopefully more Maryhill, and ultimately just moving forward in this journey called life.
Pick 3 numbers.
4, 14, 88.
88 – What’s the best birthday present you’ve received?
A twin brother, which arrived approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes after my birth.
4 – do you have any recurring dreams?
Recently I have not, when I was a child I had a recurring dream where my older brother would be driving me around in a red sports car, with nothing too specific happening. I am not too surprised by that dream though, he is really cool. In my late teens/early 20s I had recurring dreams of Tsunamis/Large waves, which tapered off not long after I began skating regularly.
14 – What cartoon would you like to be a character in?
Any Bugs Bunny cartoon, he was always my favourite. My Grandfather was a WWII pilot, he had a male and female Bugs Bunny painted on the side of his plane named “Fast Company”. He, along with other family members were always heroes of mine.
So happy we finally got to do this. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Stay rad!
Thank you Gbemi for the opportunity! The pleasure has been mine! Take care buddy.
Any last words?
Thanks to Cody Shea, Dan Kasmar, and Dustin “Monkey” for always taking care of us East Coast ladies during our trips to the Northwest and helping to provide us the opportunity to skate Maryhill. You all are true gentlemen. Also, thank you to local Lancaster company Buzzed Trucks for the love over the past years- You are making a mistake by not sponsoring me though, I may not be the fastest/prettiest lady on a skateboard but I do have redeeming qualities as well. I’ll ride your shit anyway because I believe in supporting the local guys, but maybe you should too ;).
BUT Nonetheless, Remember that skateboarding is for fun! And support your local shop!