SSWSC skateboarding program promotes female participation

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skateboarding coach Maddy Schaffrick watches as Piper Treanor rolls across the concrete at the Howelsen Hill Skateboard Park during the "It's a Girl Thing" session Tuesday, June 21, 2022. The girls only skateboarding program drew between 30 and 40 for its three sessions.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has already begun its second summer hosting the “It’s a Girl Thing” skateboarding program.

The Winter Sports Club has had co-ed skateboarding programs for years, but the female turnout was always considerably low.

Maddy Schaffrick, the program director, noticed the low numbers and attributed it to skateboarding being seen as a more masculine sport. 

“It’s always been a co-ed group with low female numbers because skateboarding, like many board sports, is male-dominant,” Schaffrick said. “The skate park can be an intimidating place for people who are just learning and I think for girls specifically because there aren’t a lot of us girls at the skate park always.”

Schaffrick was among a group that was determined to provide a more comfortable and female centralized program for all girls interested in skating. 

So, in 2021 they put together the “It’s a Girl Thing” skateboarding program that ran all summer long. There are three sessions per summer, and each session runs for three weeks.

Last year, the program filled up every available spot for the third session and they ultimately had to increase the capacity so they could include the extra girls on the waitlist. 

Schaffrick was proud to report that this year, all three sessions of the girls group have been completely booked. The first session ended on June 30, but after a week off for the Fourth of July, sessions two and three will pick up and run every Tuesday and Thursday from July 12 to August 18.

The girls have a unique opportunity because there are several female coaches that help lead the program who can become great role models for them.

“We’ve been really fortunate to have some female coaches to lead this group too. It’s been so fun,” Schaffrick said. “It is one of the most fun experiences to watch these girls grow and provide them an environment that they feel really comfortable in and encourage each other.”

As the program grows, they are looking for even more female coaches to ensure a greater adult female presence and to account for the large number of girls that continue to sign up. 

The ultimate goal of the program is to offer a fun and safe space for girls of all skating abilities to either get introduced to the sport or improve upon their already established craft. The program is available to girls ranging from ages 6 to 14.

“We want to keep providing opportunities to kids and empower girls in a male-dominant sport, and show them that we can change things and we can shred just as hard as boys can,” Schaffrick said. 

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