Watch out soccer moms -- the skater moms are riding.
Laguna Beach is home to its share of shredders, and the
distinctive sound of skateboard wheels rolling over sidewalks and
streets is a part of summer in towns across Orange County.
Skateboarding is often perceived as a teenage boy's domain, but in
Laguna, moms -- and daughters -- show that you don't have to be a
dude to skate.
"I call myself a skate-at-home mom," Top of the World resident
Barbara Odanaka said.
The author of a children's book titled "Skateboard Mom," Odanaka
discovered skating when she was a child.
"I started when I was 10 when Santa brought me my Hobie Super
Surfer skateboard," she said.
She spent six month's on Hobie's amateur team but quit when her
track coach told her she had to choose between running and skating.
She spent about 25 years off a skateboard deck until her son Jack was
born in 1996.
"A therapist said to me, 'You need to find something that gives
you great joy and do it 10 minutes a day,'" Odanaka said.
Odanaka visits skate parks in nearby cities and often skates near
her Top of the World home, though she sticks to the smaller hills.
"I've never charged Park Avenue or anything like that, though I've
been tempted," she said.
She also skates inside.
"I keep the wheels clean," she said. "After all, I am a mom."
Looking for other moms to ride with, Odanaka founded the
International Society of Skateboarding Moms. The group held its first
Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama on Mother's Day, and though many are Orange
County denizens, women from as far away as Argentina and the
Netherlands, have signed on to the group, Odanaka said.
Her 8-year-old son has not become an avid skateboarder, though her
husband Paul keeps two boards in his car.
In North Laguna, riding is a family affair for skater mom Sunny
Elizabeth and her three daughters, two of whom skate competitively.
The family traveled to San Francisco to participate in the All
Girl Skate Jam over the Independence Day weekend, Elizabeth said. Her
youngest daughter, 9-year-old Caity, took second place in her
Caity started skating when she was 3-years-old, after a
psychiatrist recommended to Elizabeth that Caity take Ritalin.
"I said, 'No way man, we're going to go skateboarding,'" Elizabeth
Elizabeth skated as a teenager and got back into the sport when
Caitlin started. Elizabeth's older daughters, 15-year-old Carly and
17-year-old Vienna, took up skating around the same time.
"I didn't know that it existed, that chicks skate, but they rip,"
The family's North Laguna apartment is home to a cache of
skateboards, and the walls are plastered with pictures of Elizabeth's
daughters on skateboards or at the beach. The family often travels to
skate parks to ride together.
"It's just kind of a way to push each other and cheer each other
on," Elizabeth said.
The family favors an old-school skating style that favors surfing
influenced moves over aerial tricks -- the kind of skating featured
in the documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys."
"It's more, just kind of like, one with everything, it's more
about style," Vienna said. "It's more natural."
"It's not just the plain old things like kick-flips, 180s,
hand-plants," Caity explained.
The Laguna-based Ocean Pacific Girls Learn to Ride conducts
clinics across the country teaching skateboarding and other action
sports to women and girls. Lagunan Mark Sperling started the company
five years ago.
Market research shows that the amount of girls skateboarding has
doubled in recent years as the sport becomes more and more popular,
thanks to televised events like the X-Games.
"A lot of it has to do with it being more mainstream, it being on
TV," Sperling said.
In town, employees at the Laguna Surf and Sport have noticed an
increasing number of girls are buying skateboard gear.
"Lately we've had a few girls come in and buy shortboard decks,
not longboards," employee Katie Martensen said. "Not too many, but
more than normal."
Despite the sport's popularity in Laguna, there are no skate parks
in town, though the YMCA has sought to build a park in town for
In 2000, the Act V parking lot was selected for the park's home,
but in 2001 the City Council decided to keep parking and shifted the
site to the Bark Park. Worried that dogs and skateboarders may not
get along, the Council moved in 2003 to build the park at Big Bend.
That site was rejected this year because of traffic safety concerns.
Though dog lovers may not want a skate park built next to the Bark
Park, the YMCA has a contract with the city to build a park there.
Caltrans has also determined the dog park is a safer location than
Big Bend, said South Coast YMCA chairman Larry Nokes.
"It looks like the Bark Park is probably where we're going to put
our efforts," he said.