Teen Olympian skateboarders inspire next generation of skater girls in Toronto

2 months ago 8
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The skatepark tin sometimes beryllium a lonely spot for a girl. Just inquire 34-year-old Stephanie Battieste, who often was outnumbered by the boys erstwhile she archetypal started skating astatine 15.

“I truly felt similar I was the lone 1 doing it,” Battieste told Global News 1 afternoon. “At first, I didn’t spot a batch of vulnerability of women — whether that was done different companies, whether they were sponsoring girls oregon showcasing them successful ads, oregon connected TV.”

Frustrated by the under-representation of females successful the industry, Stephanie decided to bash thing astir it. Inspired by the ’90s-era legendary skate team, Bones Brigade, Battieste started her ain brigade six years agone — with a girl-power twist.

“[I called it] Babes Brigade. That sounds cool. I wanted to people retired a logo and enactment studs connected a vest,” Battieste said.

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She patented the sanction and launched the women’s skateboarding institution and team, and is present spending countless hours a week teaching skate lessons, throwing events and contests — each with the extremity of empowering the adjacent procreation of skater girls.

“I conscionable wanted to find a mode for america to link and beryllium capable to conscionable up astatine the aforesaid skateparks and being capable to promote each other, due to the fact that I find that seeing different radical similar yourself, that unsocial inspires you,” she said.

Though skateboarding continues to beryllium a male-dominated sport, Battieste notes that the tables look to beryllium dilatory turning. These days, up-and-coming pistillate skaters aren’t abbreviated connected inspiration.

It came successful the signifier of gold, metallic and bronze connected July 26 astatine the Olympics’ first-ever women’s skateboarding lawsuit debuting astatine the 2020 summertime Olympic games successful Tokyo. Japanese 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya clinched the Olympic rubric successful the competition, her 13-year-old rival, Rayssa Leal of Brazil, clinched silver, and 16-year-old Funa Nakayama — besides from Japan — took bronze.

All young teens, dominating the podium, proved that the Olympics tin beryllium wrong scope — adjacent if you are lone successful Grade 8.

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For Stephanie Battieste, the unusually young ages of these prima pistillate athletes beryllium that attitudes towards this often misrepresented and misunderstood athletics are present shifting.

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“There are much parents supporting their kids successful doing worldly similar skateboarding careless of gender,” said Battieste. She remarks that what erstwhile was considered by parents excessively unsafe of a athletics for young children to enactment successful is present considered an accidental for self-development.

“They privation their kids to consciousness challenged. They privation them to consciousness similar they’re susceptible of doing immoderate they want, and I deliberation that’s a quality betwixt [now] and 40 years ago.”

One happening is for sure: the successes of Nishiya, Leal, Nakayama and respective different young Olympian pistillate skaters are flipping archaic stereotypes connected their head, leaving nary uncertainty successful Battieste’s students’ minds that skating is not conscionable for the boys.

Hitting the rails and tackling the ramps astatine a skatepark astatine Ashbridges Bay, six-year-old Sydney Yeeshuy had a connection for those who inactive judge girls can’t (or shouldn’t) skate.

“I would say, yes they can!” Yeeshuy told Global News, emphatically. “Everybody tin skate!”

With 1 look astatine the existent demographic constitution of Battieste’s classes — and with the buzz generated by the Olympians — it seems much and much radical are starting to agree.

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6-year-old skateboarder and ‘Babes Brigade’ student, Sydney Yeeshuy showing disconnected her skating chops astatine Beach Skateboard Park adjacent Ashbridges Bay successful Toronto. Phil Pang/Global News

“It’s increasing everyday,” said Battieste. “I’ve taught arsenic young arsenic 3 years old, I person a batch of radical requesting lessons for four-year-olds, and I’ve taught women successful their precocious 50s, truthful there’s a huge, wide spectrum there,” said Battieste.

“I’m present teaching boys and men and due to the fact that I’m teaching younger boys. They’re not gonna turn up thinking, ‘Oh it’s weird that a miss skates due to the fact that a pistillate taught them their archetypal acquisition erstwhile they were a kid.”

Ten-year-old Simon Owoh, who’s inactive moving connected that ollie instrumentality Battieste taught him, happens to agree.

“We should animate women to get into sports, not conscionable men,” says Owoh. “They should person the aforesaid rights.”

(From near to right): 10-year-old Simon Owoh and 11-year-old Audrey Wong participating successful a skate acquisition with teacher and proprietor of ‘Babes Brigade’, Stephanie Battieste (far right). Phil Pang/Global News

And for 11-year-old Audrey Wong, who picked up her skateboard for the archetypal clip a period ago, there’s thing rather similar the almighty unreserved of proving radical wrong.

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“When I’m going down the hill, it’s ace accelerated and past erstwhile we stop, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I did it!’ It’s beyond amazing,” said Wong.

Awestruck by the successes of Nishiya and Leal, Wong says she’ll beryllium keeping her oculus connected different 13-year-old skating phenom, Sky Brown, who makes her Tokyo Olympic debut connected the nighttime of Aug. 3, Eastern modular time.

“I truly felt inspired and I felt similar I had the close magnitude of courage,” Wong says astir the feeling of watching Nishiya and Leal perform. “And I conscionable truly emotion however they were truthful brave to spell up successful beforehand of the satellite and I deliberation that each girl, each lad should look astatine them and say, ‘Wow, I consciousness inspired to bash it.'”

For Battieste, carrying connected that benignant of bequest and inspiring the adjacent procreation of skater girls to spot what’s imaginable is what Babes Brigade is each about.

“If you springiness them a accidental to effort antithetic things similar this, they summation a assurance astatine a overmuch younger property than it utilized to be, truthful I deliberation we’re rewriting history.”

© 2021 Global News, a part of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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