Love of skate fashion leads to passion for the sport

sophie

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Sophee “Soph” Hills, 23, helps girls all over the East Coast develop their confidence and skating skills through programs like Gisborne’s Surely Skate and more recently through Shred Sessions in Napier.

It started out as something fun to do with his sister and get out of the house. Now, Sophee “Soph” Hills is rarely without her skateboard and is completely “addicted” to the sport.

So much so that she launched Shred Sessions in Napier, a program offering free equipment, training and a safe space for girls, takatāpui or non-binary youth to learn and build their skating confidence.

Hills, 23, started skating around four years ago, with her younger sister Tessa, who loved the fashion of skate culture but didn’t “wanna be a poser”.

The couple bought boards from their local surf shops in Gisborne – a longboard for Soph and a cruiser for Tessa.

With no one else to skate with or learn from, the sisters focused on feeling comfortable pushing, navigating the local trails whenever they felt like going skating. .

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The female duo became a foursome when they were joined by two friends, giving them the confidence to finally hit the skate park in Gisborne.

“He provided this safe and inclusive space,” Soph Hills said. “[We thought] we should surely go to the park and find like-minded girls and help them with their confidence.

Certainly, while many older male skateboarders “look really intimidating”, they found them encouraging and encouraging. It was the younger scooter riders that the girls most often clashed with.

She helped encourage other girls in Gisborne through Surely skate​, before starting Shred Sessions after moving to Napier in July.

East Coast skating programs targeting girls have helped those like 10-year-old Charlotte Jones gain confidence in active sport.

Provided

East Coast skating programs targeting girls have helped those like 10-year-old Charlotte Jones gain confidence in active sport.

The 10-week pilot program is funded by Tū Manawa – Sport New Zealand and takes place at Bay Skate in Napier.

Hills has already noticed a change, with some girls “being less afraid to try something new” and others bringing friends to sessions. She felt that it was often easier for young children to learn than for those who were in their mid-teens.

She described Bay Skate as “one of the best parks in the country”, adding state-of-the-art facilities, like the recent revamp of the $3 million Gisborne skatepark, meant people felt more confident trying new things .

The evolution of the perception of skating as an “unsuitable sport” towards a form of active recreation recognized as an Olympic-level sport has helped to generate this renewed interest.

“It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. It takes skill. »

Sophee Hills (front center) says she has made a lot of friends through skating.

Provided

Sophee Hills (front center) says she has made a lot of friends through skating.

Compared to school sports like football, with fixed practice times and match days, Hills said skating was more flexible with skills that could be developed at an individual pace, anywhere, anytime. when – all you need is concrete and a plank.

For her, skating has also been therapeutic at times, helping her get out of her head and out of the house to be active.

“It calms me down because all I’m thinking about is trying not to fall or how to pull off this trick,” she said.

It’s also the social aspect and Hills said she’s made a lot of friends through skateboarding.

Her message to others considering trying skating: “Get down. You don’t have to skate – you can just come watch and chat.

  • Shred Sessions are held three times a week at Napier’s Bay Skate – Thursdays 5-7pm, Saturdays 10am-12pm and Sundays 12-2pm.

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