For starters, please tell us who you are, where you currently reside, and how long you’ve been skating.
I’m Cindy Whitehead I grew up in Hermosa Beach, CA and still live here. I started skateboarding when I was 15 years old so that’s about 33 years. Although I do have some photos of me riding a Black Knight skateboard with clay wheels when I was 7 or 8.
Taking it back to the beginning, what were you doing before you started skating?
Before I started skateboarding I swam on the local swim team, did Junior lifeguards, surfed, and rode at Portuguese Bend Stables competing in horse shows (english saddle)
For you what was that trigger, your introduction to the skateboard?
I saw my brother riding around the neighborhood with his friends and thought it might be cool.
What were those first few months like for you?
A learning process, certain things came easily – like nose wheelies and carving but doing a 360 killed me. But for some reason I could spin a lot if I did them 1 footed – until this day I don’t think anyone knows that I can not do more than (1) 360 w/both feet on the board.
What was going on in skateboarding at that time?
Laura Thornhill, Ellen Berryman, Ellen O’neal were all coming up doing amazing freestyle routines and I was seeing their photos in SKATEBOARDER MAGAZINE. Greg Weaver was cruising below tile in an empty pool on one cover (that was a big deal back then!) Laura wore 2 tone Vans they custom made for her and I thought she was stylishly cool. (and she still is!)
What were the main places you skated?
I started at Hermosa Pier doing Freestyle and then when Skateboard World in Torrance opened that became my main park and I started skating vert – they were also one of my first sponsors. Then it was on to The Runway / Superbowl in Carson and Marina Skatepark in Marina del Rey. Of course we skated parks all over Southern California as contests were held different places each week or so. By 1981 I had skated over 26 parks across the USA
What feelings and ideas do you think best describe that time for you in skating?
Freedom, exhilaration, confidence, good friends, great times. It was the mid to late 70′s in California – what better time to grow up and cruise around on a skateboard?
Any sponsors to speak of and how did that all begin?
ET Surf was my first sponsor – it’s a local shop where I bought everything skate/surf related. My grandma would call Eddy the owner and make sure I got my OP cords shorts in every color way as they came into the store. It’s still my go to place for everything surf/skate. They are like extended family to me. Skateboard World sponsored me as a team rider which meant free food (important as I was there all day every day), they paid my entry fee to contests, let me skate and play video games fro free. (the things that are so important as a kid!) After that I started competing and placing and had Tracker Trucks, Sims Skateboards, Puma Tennis Shoes, Rector, Fly-a-Way Helmets and others as my sponsors.
What is your timeline? What key points happened along your journey? Did you go through any significant transitions or moments that changed everything?
I’d say when the centerfold and article in WILD WORLD OF SKATEBOARDING MAGAZINE came out things changed a bit. I was on the radar more. Which was good and bad. Good in the fact that many opportunities arose from it. Traveling across the USA on a skate tour, meeting many more skaters in other places etc. But also the pressure to turn pro there after. It felt like a big jump but in reality it was a great experience and it was time. Looking back now age 16 seems so young for that but it felt right at the time. Traveling across the USA for a skate tour was also a big deal – just me and roller skater Duke Rennie, skating Cherry Hill, Sensation Basin and of course Apple Skatepark. Doing tv shows, interviews, judging skate contests and having a much wilder time than I probably should have at age 17 with little to no supervision.
Who were your favorite people to skate with along the way?
I mainly skated with boys as there were not many girls at my local parks. Once I moved to Marina Skatepark every day were sessions with Tony Alva, Brad Bowman, Jay Adams, Dennis “Polar Bear” Agnew”, my friends Glae Springer & Chris Upson, Duke Rennie and Fred Blood (rollerskaters). When Judi Oyama and I would meet up at contests I always liked skating with her – it was nice to skate with another female and push each other in a positive way.
Who were your mentors along the way?
All of the guys above they were all very supportive and great to me. Especially Brad Bowman and Marc Hollander from Sims Team – they always looked out for me.
What is your relationship with your board these days?
When I am on a photo shoot styling for a skateboard shoot I break it out and some how think I can just hop on it, drop into a pool and hit coping right away – this tends to end with me free falling and eating cement. Not great – really need to be riding consistently to be skating vert like that. I do love taking out my long board and riding around the strand by my house. That is a fun day for me.
We don’t see many “Masters” women out in the mix as much. Would you like to see a masters division at events this year?
I would like to see a Womens Masters event – if there are ladies who will come out and skate I will be there to support them! I am all for it!!
What would bringing everyone back together mean to you?
Shared memories, stories we need to preserve, and actually getting to know some of the girls we only saw at events but never got to really know. I am experiencing that know with Laura Thornhill and Robin Logan, also earlier skaters Patti McGee and Di Dootson. They were leaving skateboarding as I was coming up so I never got to know them and now I am – it has really been GREAT. I hope for more of this for all of us women skaters. There is a lot of history there and it would be nice to have it preserved. Female skaters were a rare breed…
Looking back, what was the most challenging thing in your skate journey?
Probably making less money than the guys yet having the same travel needs, competition fees etc.
What were some of the best memories or emotions along the way?
Meeting all the people I met and knowing them all to this day – its like a club – once you are in, you are in for life and those friendships will always be there. The feeling I always had dropping into a pool and feeling “in the moment” and loving every minute of it. I would spend every day at the skatepark – there was no where else I’d rather be. I met my first boyfriends through skating, Had dates at new parks, parties with friends. Such a close, great group of people. It’s a bond you can’t imagine unless you experienced it.
Comparing when you began skating to what’s going on with the females today, do you notice differences?
I wish I could say that I notice huge differences but I don’t really. Still not too many girls in the mags, prize money is low compared to men. TV time is less. Yet these young girls are just like we were – forging ahead, getting better and better and pushing the boundaries, LOVE THEM!!! I do notice there are some very young ones like 4-7 yrs old that are shredding – so that is new and AWESOME!
What would you say to a girl interested in learning to ride?
Grab a board, hit the pavement and don’t look back. It will be the best journey you ever had.
What would you say to a woman interested in learning to ride?
Same thing. Women are very supportive of each other in this sport – grab a girlfriend and SKATE!
Anything else you would like to say?
Thank you to all the women who came before me and helped pave the way. Being able to look at pictures in the magazines of Laura, the Ellen’s, Robin etc. made me know it WAS possible. These girls are my hero’s. I love them all.