Breaking down stereotypes as a 44-year-old mum who skateboards

Date: 18 November 2021   Author: Energise Me

When her daughter and partner started skateboarding together, 44-year-old Helen got fed up with watching from the sidelines. She got her own board, and after getting over some initial fear of judgement, she found her own passion for the sport.

I’ve been involved in sport most of my life. I was a gymnast whilst I was growing up. I competed up to Hampshire level and spent 10 years taking part in the sport. As I got older, into my teenage years, my interests went elsewhere so I stopped gymnastics.

Eventually, I went to university and did a degree in art. It’s something I am really interested in. Whilst at uni I got a job in a surf shop. I found an interest in surfing. It quickly became my passion. My partner, Trev and I even went to Australia and spent a whole month surfing.

Being active is still very much a part of my life now too. I work as a shift manager at a leisure centre so my whole day I am surrounded by physical activity.


Starting Skateboarding as a family

My daughter was about seven when she found Trev’s skateboard in our garage. We live right behind a big skatepark, and she really wanted to give it a go. Trev used to skate when he was a teen, he hasn’t skated in over 20 years but he was up for it so we took her.

Once she’d had one go, she kept wanting to go back to the park every day. Eventually, she was into it enough that we got her a board of her own. Trev reclaimed his and they started skating together.

I would go along with them and watch, but I like to get involved in stuff so I decided to give it a go. Initially, I bought myself a longboard. I didn’t know how good I’d be so I thought a longboard would be easier and all I wanted to do was carve around. Really I think I was worried about what people would think of me being older and turning up with some modern board. I didn’t want to look like I had no idea and embarrass myself.

After having a go I realised I wasn’t going to be able to learn everything I wanted to on the longboard. I got a proper board and just kinda started.
I didn’t have the nerve to go down on my own or try to skate on my own. Whenever Trev and I had the same day off we’d go to the park together. He’d teach me things when the park was quiet.

Skateboarding is technical. There are so many tricks to learn and it just sucks you in. It’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it.

Catching the skateboarding bug

After a while, a couple of our friends who hadn’t skated in a while started skating again as well. It became an early morning or weekend thing. We’d have a coffee and a skate, it was cool. That combination of learning a new skill and seeing old friends again was great. I really started to get the bug for it. I just love it.

Looking back, I suppose I have always had a thing for sports that were a little bit different. I love learning new skills. Team sports just don’t appeal to me and I don’t like watching sport. I’d rather do it. Skateboarding is hard. You can really set yourself goals to work towards.

There is a 6ft bowl at the park we go to and you have to drop in and then pump at the right time to move around the bowl. That was my goal for a while. Once I actually did it, I was like right what’s next. There is always something new to learn.

Skateboarding is technical. There are so many tricks to learn and it just sucks you in. It’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it.


Family fun

Doing it as a family has been really cool. Trev has been like my coach. He would hold my hands as I learnt. I don’t think I would have been comfortable asking anyone else to help me. My daughter is really funny. She’ll be one end of the park and I’ll be the other.

She has a couple of friends that skate as well. She’s very independent. When we are at the park she goes off and other parents or skaters will teach her new tricks. She’ll then come over and be like look what I’ve learnt.

It’s been so nice for her as she’s done a few different sports but this is the first one she’s gotten really into. She wanted to skate before school yesterday so we were up at 6:30 at the park. She can already drop in from higher than I can.

Complete strangers will give you advice and have a chat with you. They have your back and it feels nice.

Accepted into the community

When I first started I was worried about what other people at the skatepark would think of me. I didn’t want people thinking I was lame. Honestly, no one cares though. They are too busy being worried about what they are doing and they probably have their own concerns.

Generally in most sports if you show up, have a go and enjoy yourself, everyone else will get behind you and support you. I realised this quickly and then felt more comfortable. Complete strangers will give you advice and have a chat with you. They have your back and it feels nice.

A few people I have spoken to get concerned when I say I skate. They think skateparks are full of people doing drugs. This isn’t true. You get all types of people there and they are all friendly. It’s a community and most people are there to skate and have fun.

Skateboarding is a stereotypically male sport but if anything people have been nicer to me being a woman. I have been to a few different skate parks and they are all welcoming. One boy looked at me and outright asked how old I was. When I told him he said I was like his mum, he thought I was cool as he couldn’t imagine his mum skating.

I’m the only older woman at my park and I sort of like that I can be the example for other women. I need to get good to show them what women can do. In London, there are some groups of women that skate together and I would love to have a group like that here.

Find an activity to try

This Girl Can - Skateboarding

Get the inside scoop on starting skateboarding. Find out what equipment you need, where to go and how to get started.

Visit site

Get Active

Find both in-person and online activities happening in your local area.

Visit site

Read next

Kosiwa out on a walk

On your bike! Mixing things up to stay active

Occupational therapist Kosiwa learnt to ride a bike in lockdown.

Charlotte cycling - being active whilst pregnant

Adapting to stay active whilst pregnant

Charlotte shares how being active has changed whilst pregnant.

Helen and Evie on a couch to 5k run

Taking on Couch to 5k with my daughter

Mother and Daughter, Helen and Evie's couch to 5k storyor

Our Partners

Helping us tackle inactivity to boost health and happiness

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get energising ideas direct to your inbox