Name: Niki Culma
Age: 26 years old
Where are you from:
I was born and raised in Queens, but my family is from Colombia.
How long have you been skating:
Since 14 years old, so about 12 years.
Why did you start skating?
I started to skate because my guy friends that I grew up with started and I got bored of watching them and thought I could do it too.
I skate because it makes me feel free and like I can do anything. It’s an indescribable feeling but if you skate, you know what I mean.
What was your first setup?
My first setup was a Girl deck, I liked the company (and logo) and I still have my first board for memories.
Where/what did you skate first?
It took me about 4 months to convince my parents to let me skate, they were afraid I would get hurt or turn into a tom-boy, even though I always felt that’s how I grew up having mostly guys as friends.
My close friends from my block in Queens taught me the basics and I would mostly skate flat ground in the street, although occasionally they’d bring out a small box or rail. I don’t skate with them anymore because most of them stopped skating, each for different reasons. I still owe it to them for helping me learn some basic tricks and believing in me, and I’m still friends with them today.
Where do you like to skate these days:
I usually like to skate at my local park which is Forest Park skatepark but I also like to skate Far Rockaway, LES and Chelsea.
How did you find GRO:
I can’t exactly remember but I know that I met Courtney many years ago (2011?) and I believe that is how I became aware of GRO and started attending the sessions.
How long have you been part of the NYC crew:
I’m currently working more with the NYC GRO Crew to plan some events so that is exciting. I’ve really been a part of the NY crew for quite some time as a volunteer helping girls learn to skate at the sessions, but this year I’ve become more involved, helping the crew coordinate and plan for events.
One plan that I am truly excited about is our trip in November to the Exposure 2016 event. I’m really looking forward to meeting other women in skateboarding and I’m also really excited to be going with other crew members and women and to be seeing GRO women out there. I work in an office 9-5, so it’s going to be a great vacation break from my routine!
Why is GRO important to you?
GRO is important to me because it’s an opportunity for me to help girls learn to skate. If I had GRO when I was growing up skating I would’ve probably felt more confident and like I had a supportive environment, I feel that way now when I go to a GRO session. I think it really makes a difference in helping girls and women overcome that fear and anxiety that comes with going to a new park or spot where there are mostly guys skating, or even stepping on a board or learning new tricks,
I feel like it creates a more positive and encouraging place for girls to skate.
What has skateboarding taught you about yourself?
Skateboarding has taught me that I am stronger and more dedicated than I think I can be, it’s taught me to be more outgoing and that I can underestimate my abilities.
There are so many things I’ve learned from skateboarding and that’s why it’s so important to me, it really changed my life in a great way. I really don’t want to stop skating until I physically can’t, even the thought of that scares me because it makes me feel whole and I don’t know what else I could do to replace that feeling.