To skate or not to skate? For this female skater, there is no question.

             Skateboarding made her feel different, but in a good way. Dedicated to getting better every day and starting to learn tricks, this skater continues to prove that females skate too!

            Leilee Naderi, first year at Cal Poly, grew up in Santa Clara County, CA. Her parents, both born in Iran, moved to the United States in 1980. They settled in Saratoga, where Naderi learned to skate. In a video interview, she spoke in about her background and her influences in skateboarding.

            “It’s a small town. It’s pretty wealthy. Skating there was something that made me feel really different. Not in like a ‘oh, I’m different’ kind of way, but I was one of the only girls in that small town that skated,” Naderi said.

            Naderi learned to skate from her neighbor, Ryan Westman. He became involved in skating at a young age and was influenced by his father. In a video interview, Naderi spoke about Westman with gratitude and detailed his powerful influence.

            Westman, a close friend of Naderi, was asked to comment on this story and provided valuable insight on their friendship.

            “We were already great friends at the time, but she saw me teaching my brother how to skate and asked me to teach her. Within a week or two, we were skating together to school and what not. We still skate together whenever we come back to Saratoga,” Westman wrote in a text message.           

            In the SLO skateboarding community, females come few and far between (VICE article). Naderi currently lives in the new Cal Poly freshman dorms and skates around with her friends nearby. Although, she never goes to the park because she feels intimidated and has few people to go with.

            On the other hand, she continues to learn more every day as best she can. Females skate too (HIGHSNOBIETY article) and Naderi has never let anything get in the way of what she loves.

            “I definitely grew up as a tomboy. So, I kind of started out not caring about like, ‘oh, no girls are skateboarding.’ I never really cared. I think it made me stand out because I was probably like the only girl in my grade and there were only a few at my school. There were a bunch of guys who skated though. So, I felt like I stood out and I would try to teach my girlfriends. They thought it was really cool and some of them, I actually successfully taught, which was really fun,” Naderi said.

            Local SLO skateboarder, Andrew Johnson skates at the local skatepark every day. He was born to African-American parents and was asked to comment on this story for his difference in perspective. Johnson spoke about the lack of female representation at the park and what type of person it takes to be a skater.

            “I see girls sometimes, mostly kids. But yeah it’s mostly just dudes at the park. I know like one or two girls that come, but that’s it. Skateboarding isn’t for everyone dude, I don’t know some have it and some don’t.” Johnson said.

            Now that Naderi has learned how to skate, she was asked to offer her advice to the young generation of future skateboarders. She believes that anyone can pick up a board and give it shot. In a video interview, she spoke directly to the audience and her true colors came through.  

            “If you’re worried about bleeding and scars, stuff like that, get Vitamin E oil because it takes it away. But also, there’s elbow pads, knee pads, and helmets… you can start out like that. If you’re scared, I mean my dad forced me to wear all that stuff and I never wanted to, but if you’re scared then you can start out with any protection that you want. And it doesn’t matter if people are like ‘oh, little kids wear that,’ like it doesn’t matter because they’re not skating and you are. So, just start in your comfort zone and leave it whenever,” Naderi said.

Here are some additional female skateboarding articles to keep the conversation going!

‘Gnarly in pink’ article — NY Times (Opinion) piece on three little girls who skate rocking pinking helmets

Poppy Starr Olsen article — ABC News Australia piece on a female skateboarder challenging the gender norms and showing the local male skaters who’s boss

MAKERS article — A story including different instagram posts of all-female skate crews

**featured image at top of page thanks to Cinthia Leyva

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