Shannon Smith

SHANNON SMITH

Interview by JIM MURPHY
Photos by QUINN KNIGHT, KEN FORSYTH,
ROB NELSON and TUCKER MASSON

 

Shannon has been a hardcore Charleston local from the days of Blaize Blouin’s backyard ramp sessions with Bonnie Blouin, Hank, Rasta Mike and The Godfather of the East Coast layback rollout, Brad Constable. Charleston was localized by a hardcore crew of skaters who rode whatever was in their way and Shannon was up for the endless adventures with the skate family, from SC to Cedar Crest to Atlanta and hanging with the Rancheros! As skating soared and dived in the ‘80s, Charleston’s indoor Hangar Skatepark was built towards the end of the vert rage and, for a short time, Shannon and the locals had a perfect bowl oasis. After the skatepark’s demise, the legendary bowl found its way to Beiringville and started the next phase of Charleston’s backyard Roundwall Preservation Society where it still hosts gnarly bowl sessions for anyone willing to throw down. As concrete skateparks emerged throughout the country, Shannon and the Charleston locals started to rally the city for a skatepark to pay tribute to the skate history of the South and give the next generations more rippable terrain! During the long haul to get the park built, Shannon and Otis raised a family, built a killer backyard pool with brick pavers coping, and, today, skate their pool with their two kids, Audrey and Lil Johnny Otis. Now, through the efforts of Shannon and the local crew, a killer Team Pain skatepark called Sk8 Charleston, has opened, complete with the Blaize bowl and a 200 foot snakerun! Congrats to everyone who fought to make this word class skatepark in Charleston a reality. Talking to Shannon brought back such good memories and it’s an honor to share the history of an incredible skate scene and what it has evolved into!

 

First things first, I need your name, rank and serial number.

Shannon Smith, skatemom. I was Shannon Horne.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Fort Lauderdale, but I was raised in Charleston, SC.

What year were you born?

I was born on Halloween 1970. “Trick or treat?” That’s what my mom always said.

Sick! When did you move to Charleston?

It was in the’ 80s. My dad is a fisherman. He’s the captain of a long-liner boat and this is the halfway point. He used to offload at Shem Creek. We live a half mile from the creek. Charleston was really small then.

Were you getting into any activities like skateboarding at that point?

No. At that point, we were roller-skating.

Were you roller-skating on ramps?

No. We were not cool like Wainwright.

No Wainwright action. No Fred Blood action. You were just going in circles?

Yeah. Life sucked until ninth grade when I got brought downtown and met Mike, Blaize and Keith.

What brought you downtown?

School didn’t work for me and then this really rad chick transferred to our school. We hadn’t seen anything like her kind before. She had killer black eye liner and jet black hair. She traveled to New York and all over and she was rad. She let me and this other girl, Shawna, tag along with her and she had wheels, so we went downtown. Her boyfriend happened to be in one of the only punk bands we had at the time – Civilian Chaos Corps. It’s awesome because we still see those guys. Two of those guys, Ned Lindsay and Al Landess, are in the band, Damn Kids, and they live in New York. They rock.

Killer! What was downtown when you went there? Was there a skatepark?

No. We just had the George Street pool, which was our park. It was a huge municipal pool built in the late 1800’s. It was all banked with big pillars. Blaize did a frontside rock on one of the big pillars where the diving boards would have shot out, so it was a pretty epic spot. The George Street pool is where a lot of us met our extended families.

When you first went there, had you seen skateboarding in pools before?

No. I was like, “I finally found my place.” Everyone was rad and thinking for themselves. They were wide open. It was awesome. You know how skateboarding is. Thirty years later, that’s still our family.

Did that make you want to skate?

Yeah. Blaize gave me one of his old Caballero decks and I put it together, so I could figure out how to push down the street. They figured out I was g-footed and it just went from there.

When did Blaize build his ramp?

It was ‘84 when I met those guys and the Rasta Ramp was going off. In Georgetown, they had the Rebel Ramp. It was a tight-knit community crew.

What was the scene like because the skateboarding industry had kinda died?

It was epic actually. I feel lucky that was the time that we were exposed to it because it was so crucial to have our scene and to keep finding new spots to skate and to stay connected with the guys in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Jacksonville and Atlanta. It was an epic time and there was some epic skating happening in ‘84. We had guys, like Blaize Blouin and Brad Constable. You had the Rancheros and we would meet up with those guys on Sugar Mountain. It was sick. Buck Smith would come up from Florida too.

I was skating with Brad Constable, Steve Herring and Jef Hartsel at Fort Monmouth ramp in NJ and then Brad got transferred down south and started skating Blaize’s ramp?

Brad sent a note via Thrasher like, “I’m moving to Charleston. Is there any place to skate?” That’s how he got hooked up. I remember him telling me that story.

That’s so sick. Was Bonnie skating too?

Bonnie was skating and MC was skating then too.

MC was Mary Chris and Bonnie was Bonnie Blouin. Tell people about Bonnie.

Bonnie Blouin was such an epic mentor. She was creative and brilliant and she was the classic tomboy, but just a drop dead beauty. She definitely crossed lines that hadn’t been crossed, especially for a female. She wrote for Thrasher, which was sick, but she also got published in more straight-laced magazines too. She was rad and she was hot. I was just a 13-year-old kid when I met everyone. It was pretty impressive and definitely helped me find my way. I was lost here because Charleston is a very conservative old school town.

You were in a unique situation with Bonnie and MC. Did you realize how rad it was that you had girls skateboarding in your town?

That was rad, but then Bonnie left and MC was older and working. They were 6 or 7 years older than me and I didn’t have any other girls to skate with at that point. Then you had Craig Johnson in a Thrasher article going, “Girl’s don’t look good in black and blue.” You’ve got the guys heckling you and you’re still trying to push around.

Did you feel you had to earn respect from the guys or was it pretty much easy in?

You definitely had to earn respect, so it wasn’t just wide open. It did help that I was big-eyed with long blonde hair and not too ugly. [Laughs] They did make you prove yourself – Mike, Blaize and Keith especially – and they were fundamentally responsible for raising me and that’s a really good thing.

Were you trying to ride the vert ramp?

I was trying, but not very successfully. Skating banks was fun and going off curbs. I didn’t start skating bigger trannies until later. I finally found my circle, with the Rasta Ramp locals and it helped me let my shoulders down and be able to learn and dive into things. I was just riding the surface for so long trying to figure out who I was. When you’re around creative individuals, it allows you to be creative. Then there was the heckling. Heckling is such a crucial part of skating.

Explain heckling and why it’s necessary.

Heckling is crucial. Otis and I use it in parenting because it helps people be honest and it helps them be real with themselves. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and, if you’re going to heckle, you’ve got to be able to be heckled. It does give you a thick skin because you’re going to need a thick skin, regardless of what path you try to put your child on or what path you try to stay on.

From the perspective of being a women, getting heckled by guys, were you feeling like, “I’m one of them. I can get heckled and give it back.”

I was used to it, because my dad is a biker and a fisherman, so we were always bantering. He was always real and that was his world, so I was pretty comfortable with it. When you’re the youngest person hanging out, you’re like the runt of the litter, so you definitely have to be scrappy.

I know those dudes you’re talking about, and I’m sure they protected the hell out of you and would take a bullet for you.

Yeah. It was incredible. It’s still that way. I remember them having to babysit me wherever we went. I remember going to Cedar Crest and they were like. “Okay, you stay in the tent.” Then I would meet one of the guys and say, “Oh, he’s so nice!” They’d say, “No, he’s not nice, Shannon. He’s not nice.” I was like, “Okay.”

[Laughs] That’s so rad.

Yeah. These guys are the best and I still get to skate with Mike, Keith and Hank and it’s awesome. We never miss a chance to stop in Atlanta and see Lo B and Load. That’s crucial. I love those guys.

Hard work pays off when you put your heart into the dream of getting a skatepark in your community. Shannon takes a break from skating to stoke out with Celeste James who helped get this epic park built! Photo © Quinn Knight

In the ‘80s, you were in Charleston and Blaize is turning pro and skateboarding was blowing up. All of a sudden, you start seeing guys you know in the mags. What were you doing in the late ‘80s?

In the late ‘80s, school didn’t work out for me. I couldn’t understand why because I was always wanting to learn, but I was working a lot. I knew that I had to find my mission because that’s what we were all about down here. It’s like, “What’s our life’s work? What are we going to do?” Since education failed me so badly here, I decided to start on that path. That led me to Atlanta to go to school and that led me to be able to be with the Rancheros, which was a whole other culture. It was so dynamic, harsh and brutal. Oh my god. We were such hippies over here. It was awesome.

Speaking of Atlanta, could you describe to people going into Atlanta and meeting T.K. and the Rancheros?

The Rancheros were so raw and so loud and they skated and they were fierce. They had SkateZone then too, so that was a scene. Load lived right across the street from SkateZone and Fred Smith would come down. It was an epic time for people to pass through there, but there was no way a lot of people could have just walked into that scene. Thank God I’d already known them for years. They’re a tough group. My favorite saying from Load is, “Who’s your daddy!” I love Load so much. My family loves Load. Johnny Otis will make me play Youtube videos over and over again of Load. We’e been Rancheros fans from the beginning.

Did Load ever call you a weasel?

Always. “Backside don’t count! Grind it, you weasel!” [Laughs] If you get to be Load’s sister, that’s something. The love of Load is great, so I feel very fortunate. I love that man.

Load is the man. So in Atlanta, did you do four years of school there?

I did two years of college and two years for Montessori certification. At that point, you didn’t need a BA for the age range I was focusing on, two and a half to six years old. I liked that age group the best. It’s when everything is magical and it’s a natural time to learn. I taught there for four years before I came home to Charleston in ‘97.

At that time in skateboarding, there was a huge shift change from vert skating to street skating. Did you feel that change? 

Everybody hit all the street spots and I was skating with Loin and the kid, Wes. We were always going to different banks and the Bricks. There were a lot of ditches in Atlanta too. The guys had a house in downtown Atlanta and they built a killer mini-ramp conjoined with another mini ramp, so that was sick. Tonka taught me and was there when I figured out how to drop in because we didn’t have the luxury of just learning anywhere. What we had here to drop in on was a 12-foot vert ramp and that’s a little overwhelming if you don’t have other peers doing it with you. It’s a whole other mindset to skate with other girls. It’s very empowering.

You would think there would be other girls skating in Atlanta. In Florida, there was Jodi MacDonald and Jen O’Brien…

Well, their time was a bit later. Their time was so epic because that was when Stone Edge was built. Those girls are still crushing it. Wherever there are parks, you’re going to see a lot of girls ripping. It’s taken me 13 years to get a park in Charleston built. I wanted it for multiple reasons, but definitely because I have a girl and I needed my children and the children that I work with every day at school to have a place that is diverse and free where they can be creative. Why wouldn’t we have a park?

Exactly. I remember when you started to teach school in ‘97. What was the skate scene in Charleston like then?

It was the Hangar at Hank’s at that point. I learned to skate transition at Hank’s.

Describe the Hangar bowl saga and how it ended up over at Hank’s.

Well, private skateparks are hard to sustain, and Rich and Nancy couldn’t do it. Hank had the property and once they moved the bowl out there, Hank became the keeper of the bowl. We get to go skate a lot of things, but the Hangar Bowl is definitely Otis’ favorite bowl to skate. Our scene is so diverse there too because you’re talking about a region where you have country folk and you’ve got people living in town and you’ve got some transplants. You have an eclectic mix on the deck and it’s awesome. You’ve got the jams and moonshine around the fire. It’s old school and we’re alright with it.

Did you learn to drop in the deep end at the Hangar bowl?

I really learned how to drop in on a vert ramp at Science’s and then I was dying to get home to the deep end of the Hangar. I really wanted a “Skate Mafia” jacket and the only way I was going to get one was if I dropped in on the vert ramp. I couldn’t wait to get back to Charleston and show Kenny and Otis. It was a very glorified moment for me to be able to drop in before some of the kids that I was skating with. That was fun.

Describe what it took you to drop in on a vert ramp. Were you freaking out?

Science and Benji were hanging out and it was in the middle of the country at night. Everything was chill. I kneeslid a few times and I was like, “If I don’t do this now, I’m never gonna do this.” I did it and I was so stoked. It’s the feeling of your stomach in knots, taking that drop, but then you’re so glad you went. You’re like, “Sweet!”

Did you feel like the world had opened up and you were going to start trying airs?

Yeah. Randy Lowe was like, “Now you’re ready to learn Indy airs.” I remember him sitting at the deep end and I was just grabbing low and doing Indy airs for a long time, until I could finally get up over the coping.

How stoked were you when you were doing Indy airs?

Oh my God, I loved that. Our crew is just so fun. Those days were rad too because we had such a mix of people coming through town. You’d have Science doing doubles with Randy, who is half his size. You’d have Otis in there and they’d be doing triples in the bowl. It was just insanity. It was so good.

So you kept skating and teaching through the 2000’s. What else were you doing?

Well, I was crushing on Otis, but he was really bad, so I was like, “I am not going out with you. I am a teacher and you are the polar opposite.” Science and I would go skating down in Florida and we’d always stay at Otis’ parents house. Otis’ dad is awesome, and he was stoked on his behalf because Otis just kept trying. Otis would say, “You need to go out with me and then we’re going to get married and have kids.” I was like, “You’re trippin’. I am good.” Finally, his dad spoke on his behalf and I said, “Well, alright.” It’s been a whirlwind since. We started having babies, skating and I’ve been teaching school. We’re now opening our fourth campus, which is awesome. We just throw the kids in the RV and go skate as much as possible and take them places and let them be around as many people as we possibly can; just totally always keeping their eyes wide open. They are so punk too. They are so much fun.

You have a pool at your house too. Who built that pool?

Dave Libhart built the pool and Johnny Temple put the hydrazzo on. At that time I think it was kind of a newer surface. Otis cut every single piece of brick coping. He wanted it to be perfect. It’s epic.

Shannon’s daughter, Audrey Indigo, grinds through some brick pavers over the stairs in their own custom backyard pool. Life is rad! Photo © Ken Forsyth

With your kids, Audrey and little Johnny Otis, how did they get into skating?

It’s just always been there, so I don’t think they really ever have known anything else. I mean, they are allowed to do whatever they want. With Audrey, I had her in soccer, theater, dance and whatever she wanted to do. She’s just like, “Mom, I want to skate.” I was like, “Oh, you can.” With Johnny Otis, it’s the same thing. It’s our culture. That’s our lifestyle, so there are always boards lying around the house. I guess it would be the same if you were a football family. Nobody forces them to skate. They have options but, why wouldn’t you skate if your mom was like, “Sure! Go for it!” It’s interesting to watch them both develop. They’re learning so fast. I didn’t even really start skating until I was much older. By age 12, Audrey had already dropped in Big Brown at Kona. It’s interesting for us to watch. She is way more cautious and calculated, where Johnny just goes for it. He’s so punk to the point where you’re like, “Whoa! Wait! You’ve got to know what to do when you get over there!” He just wants to charge it. He would try anything. He’s just that dude. He’s finally getting a little bit more tempered because he’s taken enough slams. Otis is such a beast still too and that’s what Johnny watches, so he just wants to go for it. They both do.

Shannon’s son, Johnny Otis, drops in at Science’s Spruce Goose. Skate tough or go home, and Johnny Otis ain’t going home! Photo © Rob Nelson

I know. It’s so cool. Let’s talk about your work getting a skatepark in Charleston.

It was 2003 when I had Audrey and I was like there is just no way we can’t have a skatepark. Our town is made up of volleyball, sorority girls and drinking. I’m like, “Ewww. If she’s even going to have a chance, she needs a park. I need a park too. I want a park.” So I started, with her on my hip, going to city council meetings. At this point, Blaize had passed on, but Dotty, his mom, would show up at the meetings and speak on behalf of everybody. It started then and we just kept pushing.

Were there other parents in Charleston that were down for a skatepark too?

Well, it’s our crew and some of our crew are having children. It became more tangible the older my school got and the more diverse my clientele became. I started having parents that were totally about skating, so that helped me to get a thousand names on the petitions. That helped, but it was just all of us always leaving town too. We loved to travel and skate, but we were just like, “Why don’t we have a park? This is ridiculous!”

What do you think the problem was?

At that point, we were feeling like they were just giving us the runaround. I was like, “We need to have something more solid.” Then one of our friends got pushed off his skateboard downtown by a police officer and it got national recognition, and, all of a sudden, something had to be done. I was like, “Okay, great. We’re still here trying to get this skatepark done.” Then a reporter came to talk to me and she connected me with a friend, Ryan Cockrell, from Columbia, South Carolina. He was putting together the non-profit, Pour It Now, to get a park built in Columbia, so we joined forces. I put together a Charleston board that was epic. It had Celeste James, who does everything with the food and bev and accounting. I had a lady, Jill Conway, who is on the school board and is also a professor at the college. We packed that board with heavy hitters so, when it came time for us to go see the mayor and meet with the council, it really helped.

What was the Mayor’s reaction?

Well, if we go back to the ‘80s, Sheriff Greenberg had declared war on all skateboarders. Skateboarding has been negatively looked at forever here. The stigma is harsh. There was no way they were seriously considering helping get a park built until it became national news and then Charleston was like the bad parent. That’s what helped us get legitimized underneath Pour It Now and we started being more aggressive. At that point, the city was dragging us along. We were doing our due diligence, and our little skate and bakes and silent auctions, but there was no way they were going to make it happen. There were giving us land that couldn’t even be obtained by the Charleston County Parks and Rec commission. They had deep pockets, so it was like a mission to fail out of the gate. One lady had compassion, so she hooked us up with the CCPRC and they footed the bill for the park.

What was the thing that clicked for them to agree to put the money in?

It was one magic meeting with this guy, Tom O’Rourke. He is the executive director for the Charleston County Parks and Rec, which is different from the city. They earn their own money and they have private money, so we had all of that going on. We had a bunch of backlash from the citizens not wanting their tax dollars being wasted on a bunch of skate rat hoodlums. This guy was tops though. He’s not a skater, but he and his wife like to scuba dive and they go to Grand Cayman. They would go there and watch the kids skate the Black Pearl, which is quite majestic. If you haven’t been there yet, the Black Pearl is phenomenal. We got to go for Lenny Byrd’s 50th birthday and it was heaven. So anyway the CCPRC guy is like, “We cater to this community, this culture, but there’s nothing for the skaters. We want to do something.” I was like, “Okay, let’s do this.”

So he became the person talking to the Mayor and saying the skatepark was a legit cause?

No. I would talk to Mayor Riley all the time. I was like, “What do we need to do? Should we have Shepard Fairey make a ‘Mayor Riley Has A Posse’ sticker? Do we need to promote this? Do you need me to find other money? Come on.” They were just humoring us until the CCPRC said, “We want to spend $2,000,000 on a park. We raise all kinds of money. We’re good stewards.” Then Mayor Riley was like, “Well, yeah, we want it on the peninsula.” We all wanted it on the peninsula, centrally located. We want everybody to be able to get to it.

What is the peninsula? Is it downtown?

The peninsula is downtown, so that’s where you have your most culturally enriched area, from dirt poor to extravagantly wealthy. You have a diverse mix of people and a lot of us grew up in that situation where we didn’t fit in on the baseball team and the gymnastics group or whatever. It’s easy for us to raise money or get boards together to give the kids downtown that don’t have anything that they can fit into and they can all come together. Just think about how diverse our groups of friends are. We have such a range of friends from all over the world and we can go all over the world with our skateboard and make more friends. That’s how amazing skateboarding is. It just seems crucial to have that available for the youth, especially now. Racial tensions are just off the chain, but not in our world. It’s not like that with our groups of friends. Our minds were opened a long time ago and whatever conditioned thinking was instilled on us was heckled out of us. It’s all about personal motivation, accomplishment and camaraderie. It’s just so good. That’s why I definitely wanted the skatepark downtown. Everybody wanted it downtown. At that point, when the tab was going to be picked up by another party, Mayor Riley was all about it.

So was a piece of property put aside that everybody could agree on?

No. They had to buy it. I’m gonna tell you what, Murf, we could have had five freakin’ parks. The park cost upwards of $5,000,000 and it’s only a 34,000 square foot park. The city really should have provided the land since Mayor Riley was insisting that the county put it on the peninsula, but if we had waited on land from the city, we still wouldn’t have anything. The commission had to come up with more money, so now it’s a $5,000,000 project and it’s epic! It’s right on the river. It’s beautiful. It’s awesome.

Nighttime overview of sk8 charleston, another killer Team Pain skateparks creation and a dream come true for the down south skaters! This one is for you, Bonnie and Blaize! Photo © Tuckr Masson – courtesy of Team Pain Skateparks

Was that property they could have developed or land they weren’t utilizing?

No. The commission bought it for about $800,000. It was not given to them by the city. The city finally donated $500,000. I don’t know if they did it in cash or with materials or equipment. The majority of the money is from the CCPRC. They had a private donation of almost $400,000 which was epic. Let me tell you, Otis says that he can die with this bowl. It’s that good. It’s the Blaize Bowl for sure. We have his ashes in the hip. It is seamless and perfect, and the snake run is phenomenal. It’s like 200 feet with a lot of roll-over and a lot of flow. You can go really fast. It’s nice. It also has a huge street course on the other side, closest to the marsh and they tricked it out with marble slabs and art features, so those guys are all stoked.

Wow. Were you guys getting momentum to where you had local parents with kids wanting the park or was it just the hardcore crew pushing for it?

Everybody wanted it. Of course, this was going on for years and, as it was going on, my schools have grown. I went from having a one-room schoolhouse and now we are adding a fourth campus. In that way, I’ve been introduced to a broader range of people that are also very creative that have moved here and want a Montessori education for their child and it’s like, “Oh yeah, I skate. I want a place for the kids to skate.” We started getting more support that way and word of mouth.

Now that the park is open, is it manned or is it all access?

Against our advice, it is fenced and manned, but it’s only $40 a year or $3 a day, without the annual pass, so most of us just deal. We need to make sure all the kids in the area that may not be able to afford it can have access to their neighborhood park, and if people don’t want to pay to play, which I get, there are plenty of backyard spots for skating too. It was all we could do to get this park built. Concessions had to be made. Hopefully, it will promote the need for more parks and hopefully they will be free and wide open.

Do you have any say in things or is it up to the people who financed it?

We’re hoping we do. Of course it’s their money, so it’s their park. We helped them at least pick Team Pain. They included us in that and they don’t usually do that. We hope they will use us as an advocacy group. I reached out to them before, so hopefully they will listen. The park is open at night, which is good, and it’s wired for sound, which is also good. I was like, “Make your money on events. Talk to Marty Ramos at Kona. He does great events.”

Yeah. Do events and fundraisers instead of charging money to skate it.

They have a system of parks around the Charleston area and they have waterparks at them with concessions, and they do big Christmas festivals at them, so they raise a lot of money. Those parks kind of pay for this park. They knew that this park wasn’t going to be a money maker, so hopefully they will keep that focus. Thank God we were allowed to be a part of the park building selection committee because they were totally going for this whole song and dance landscaping crew because they had great visuals. I was like, “Are you there on site? Who does your coping?” They were like, “Oh no. We hire it all out.” I was like, “Okay, we’ve been there, done that.” They were awesome about getting a design build team. It was between Grindline, which we would have been stoked on a Grindline park too, and Team Pain, so we were happy with our builder.

What was the deciding factor between Grindline and Team Pain?

An environmental land group had the construction entity, so it had more to do with the whole package. Grindline and Team Pain both did great presentations. The hope is that once people see this park, the parents and townships around here will get tired of driving their kids downtown and we will start having free public parks all over the place.

Are you concerned about heckling from Collette and Lil Eddie for not hiring Grindline? [Laughs]

Oh, hell no. [Laughs] Collette was just here. He comes to see Johnny Otis. That’s his buddy. It’s awesome. Collette is the best godfather. It was a blast having Big Tony and the guys here. They were just raging. It was so fun. The pool got a good work out. Brandon Yarborough is just ridiculous and he got all kinds of sickness, so it was good times. Hank is stoked for the park too. The Hangar is an institution at this point, so people aren’t going to stop skating the Hangar. Hank is stoked to soul carve the snake run at the public park for a change.

Oh yeah. You don’t want to skate the same thing all the time. It’s good to diversify.

You gotta keep it mixed up and Hank has watched it go by, decade after decade. He’s so stoked.

Well, congratulations on all the hard work, Shannon. Any advice for kids out there that want to get a skatepark going?

You have to be the squeaky wheel and enlist the right crew. You have to get the right people behind you. Go ask your librarian. Find the right people and build a posse that supports your idea. Help them know that everybody wants a skatepark to skate, but also let them know what else it brings to the community. For one, it brings the community together and provides a place for creative expression. We gotta keep going. There were plenty of times when I was like, “Screw this. They are never going to do it.” When I felt that way, I’d call Lenny Byrd and he’d be like, “No, Shannon, keep going.” I’d call my board and they’d say, “No, Shannon, we got this.” You just gotta keep going. You gotta be positive and squeaky as hell. It’s like anything else. It took us 13 years to get the park. How long did it take me to drop into a vert ramp? How long does it take a kid to figure out a trick? You just have to keep going at it and hammering away and getting rejected and denied until, finally, someone’s going to share your vision or your dream or want to support you. You just gotta keep charging it.

What is your Duty Now For The Future?

I’m going to take all of these rad little kids and I’m going to have mom skate camps and do skate stuff with them. I’m so happy to finally have a place. I already have five local women that are like, “We’re down.” They’re saying things like, “I can do this.” I’m like, “Yes, you can.” I’m just going to keep trying to stoke myself and other people around me.

What do you think about skateboarding in the Olympics?

Oh, well, I don’t know. Is that going to make it all different? Keep Skateboarding A Crime. It’s like having these parks that are manned. There are positives and negatives to it. How watered down is it going to become? It’s just a weird thing to me. I mean there are good things that can come out of it, but there were so many rad things about it when it wasn’t like that. When you did have to go find your place to skate and when your posse was only liked amongst your group, it was just different. It’s wholesome now. I just want everybody to keep being able to have avenues to skate. I do know that it is definitely more empowering for little girls when they have skateparks. It’s different when I watch the boys skate. Young boys and big boys, like Otis, will keep taking a beating, where someone else might think, “I’m going to look at that from another perspective and maybe start over here.”

People always ask me why I think there is not more girl skaters. Can you give people a perspective on why there are not as many girl skaters coming up as boys?

I think now there are. The more parks there are, the more you’re going to see girls skateboarding. As this generation is building, they are going to be pulling more girls. I see it now, like with Trey Womble’s daughter. She is like, “It’s so inspiring watching Audrey skate.” They have to see it. It’s more tangible when Sarah Jane who is 10 or 12 is doing it versus nutty Johnny Otis doing it. He will jump off a roof, you know what I mean? It has to be logical to us girls, whereas you guys are just beasts and just go for it. We are still responsible for keeping the earth populated, to a certain extent, so we’re a little more trepidatious when it comes to dangerous things, but girls skateboarding is building. When you go to Colorado, those girls are off the chain. They are so strong. They charge it. They’re honest and they are exactly who I want Audrey to be around and be stoked on. I took Audrey out there for slash camp because there were a ton of girls skating there. It’s growing. When there are more parks, it brings more girls to the scene because we can step up.

 

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