The Chicago based crew promoting inclusivity and community in skate.
A Womyn and POC centered skate crew based in Chicago, FroSkate is more of a sisterhood than anything else. What began as three friends connecting to help teach one another the basics of skateboarding has evolved into a women and Trans, Queer, Gender nonconforming and persons of color centered skate crew that’s taking over the streets of Chicago. Traditionally a white, male-dominated sport, the crew works towards bringing women of color into the skateboarding world. Full of femme-identifying women, many of whom are learning to skate for the first time, the crew prides itself on supporting each other and pushing their limits mentally and physically through skateboarding.
With bonding-focused efforts, the group has been able to extend its reach in establishing true community amongst its skaters. Between movie nights, skate meetups and ramp building lessons, the crew is always looking to foster a sense of sisterhood and camaraderie for its members. All love. No hate. #FroSkate.
When skating, mistakes, falls and scrapes are to be expected. For FroSkate however, it’s getting back up and helping others do the same that matters most. After all, as one consistent truth amongst the group entails, falling is easier when it’s with friends.
We took a break with FroSkate at Chicago’s Burnham Skate Park to discuss the crew’s organic beginnings, skate as intentional movement and some of their best memories yet.
How did FroSkate begin?
Bri: FroSkate began in this really organic way. It started as us picking up a skateboard, and skating with just three of us. It grew by mutual friends starting to hit us up like, “hey, saw you guys skateboarding, let’s get together, let’s skateboard,” and it slowly grew from there.
How long have each of you been skating and how did you first get into it?
Kia: I’ve been skating for two months and I found FroSkate on Instagram and decided to show up one day. Everyone was super welcoming. It was amazing. My first day was so much fun. I didn’t feel like “maybe I shouldn’t do this at all,” it was all so natural.
You really have to be a good mover, you have to be really good at being fluid with your body to skateboard.
How would you say movement plays into skateboarding?
Karlie: You have to be a really good mover, you have to be really good at being fluid with your body to skateboard. You have to know how to lift up your leg in a certain position to do an ollie, or you have to learn how to fall gracefully and correctly so that you don’t break something. So if you know any ju-jitsu, you know how to fall and you can probably risk yourself a little bit more. If you know how to dance, you might be better at going up and down ramps, doing 180s or something because you know how to twist your body in certain ways. Movement is definitely a hugely important part of skateboarding.
What’s your best tip for getting started?
Karlie: Just get on, just go. Spend some time even if it’s in front of your house in the grass, maybe even on the carpet of your apartment standing on your board, doing some squats on the board, getting comfortable with the board. The more comfortable you get pushing, the more comfortable you get just standing, you’ll be able to do things. Also, don’t worry about how fast you may or may not be riding. One of the biggest things that can mess you up is feeling like “Oh, I’m not learning yet.” Everyone learns at their own pace. You have to learn how to pace yourself. Our bodies are built differently so you have to know that you’re going to be good at some things and bad at some things.
What advice would you give to people who want to get into skating but they may not have a group like FroSkate in their town or they may go to skateparks and not see anyone like them?
Karlie: Please don’t let that discourage you from going to a skate park. I tell girls all the time, like when you’re at a skate park by yourself and it’s a bunch of dudes like this, just say “hey, how long have you been skating?” or “what kind of tricks do you know? Can you teach me how to do an ollie?” Even if you know how to do an ollie, just speaking to one person, they’ll begin looking out for you and encouraging you the whole time and now their homies will also be doing the same thing. It’s really just getting over being afraid of who’s at the skatepark. Try to make a post on Instagram, ask your friends if they’re interested in skateboarding. My friend Bri never thought about skateboarding at all but I was like “come with me to the skatepark and just hang out with me.” Got her on a skateboard and now she skates. Your friends might be interested and they might not even have thought about it, so try to bring your friends around too.
Why is fostering the community aspect of Froskate important?
Bri: It creates accessibility. There’s power in numbers, power in groups. You know, I also think I’ve been looking at it from the standpoint of fitness in general. There’s a lot of black and brown girls that fitness isn’t really a thing the way it should be for them, and it’s really important to be active, especially in groups. It helps your emotions, your mental state and even your physical health, it’s really really important. And I think even us getting out here; we’re doing activity, a healthy activity, we’re promoting moving our bodies, supporting each other, kind of like teamwork almost, which I think you don’t necessarily see a lot, but I think it can exist. It shows that this can exist and this is important.
What are some of your fondest memories of FroSkate?
Bri: Probably the first official meetup. It was something brand new and even learning and being excited about skating. But definitely the first time we all got together as a group. I think we all linked at Clemente High School. It was a skate jam.
Karlie: There’s this one girl, Grace. I was skateboarding at Wilson skatepark with a friend and she was in the parking lot by herself. I was like, “you should join FroSkate,” and now she has a huge community of people that she can hit up and hang out with or skate with. Seeing girls who didn’t really have anyone to skate with before now have a huge community, and also seeing Kia for instance, when she picked up a board, second day on a board and she was on my level. Kia progressed so fast. So I guess seeing people learning and progressing is the highlight of my life every time it happens.
FroSkate: Definitely favorite memory of FroSkate was the very first meet up that I went to because that was the first time that I was ever surrounded by that many women skating and it just felt nice. Working at the skate shop it was just always me, surrounded by guys, which is cool, I love my guy friends and everything like that. But it’s just really nice to be around women and be around that type of energy. It’s such a different type of energy. I think that’s definitely my favorite memory of FroSkate, just the very first meetup that I went to. I was like “Damn, it’s more girls than dudes out here!! What?! We going crazy!” We weren’t even really doing anything crazy, but it just felt nice being with women and we’re all learning together. Knowing that you’re not alone in the skate culture. It’s different when you see people all over the world and on Instagram or Twitter, but there are different people in your community and skating with women in your community and getting together with these women.
“it’s more girls than dudes out here!! What?! We going crazy!”
Kia: Oh my god, there’s been a couple… My favorite memory was my first day because on the first day I did a ramp, which is crazy to do on your first day of skating ever. Also, every time I meet people here. Every time I have a moment with somebody, or when I get to know a little more about them outside of skating and figure out why other people skate too, I’m just like man, “we’re so alike.”
How has skating impacted your life?
Kia: Crazy! Immensely! I feel so happy when I skate! Everybody that I’ve met has been so sweet. We have so much in common. It just turned into another thing I get to focus on. It turned into a creative outlet for me to feel comfortable and be myself. And prove myself to figure out what I can and can’t do, what I like and what I thought I couldn’t do. Finding out more stuff about myself is really nice. That’s been amazing. It’s nice when other things pull things out of you that you didn’t even know you had, so that’s the biggest plus from skating.
*These interviews were edited and condensed for clarity
Photography by Amani Williams