REGION — Four North County skateboarders have joined the national skateboarding team with plans to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The United States governing body announced in mid-December that 16 athletes would be joining the 2023 National Skateboarding team, including Ruby Lilley, 16, of Oceanside, Bryce Wettstein, 18, of Encinitas, Braden Hoban, 21, of Encinitas and Gavin Bottger, 15, of Oceanside and Vista.
The National Skateboarding team is divided into four categories: men’s park, men’s street, women’s park and women’s street. As mostly vert and park skateboarders, both Lilley and Wettstein have joined the women’s park group. Bottger was placed in the men’s park group and Hoban joined men’s street.
Tate Carew, 17 another young skateboarder from San Diego, made it on to the men’s park team.
Lilley, who recently celebrated her 16th birthday, moved to Oceanside from Ocean City, Maryland, five years ago. With a background in ballet and ballroom dancing, the teen never imagined that years later she might represent her country in the Olympics as a skateboarder.
“I never thought I would go this path — it’s like a dream come true,” she said. “Ever since I started skateboarding, it’s been my dream to go to the Olympics.”
It was around 2018 when a young Lilley came home in tears from a ballroom dance competition. She had decided she didn’t want to dance anymore but wanted to skateboard.
“My mom said, ‘But you love dancing,’ and I said, ‘But I love skateboarding more,’” Lilley recalled.
Skateboarding used to be an after-school activity for Lilley — now, the sport has taken a professional turn for her.
Lilley often frequents Prince Park in Oceanside as well as the CA Training Facility in Vista. It was at the training facility where the recent national contest to determine who would join the national team.
Wettstein, who turns 19 in January, began skateboarding about age 5 before really picking up the sport a year later.
“My dad told me he was going to skate in this big pool — I had never heard of that before — and when he took me it turned out to be this big bowl at the YMCA,” Wettstein said. “That turned into my home pretty quickly.”
Over the years, as the skate park changed with new ramps coming and going, Wettstein grew and changed with it.
Wettstein’s family recently made its own mark at the skate park by donating a new vert ramp that was built in her own backyard.
“I never got to actually contribute that much to a skate park before,” Wettstein said. “Now a piece of my family is there.”
Joining the national skateboarding team means the world to Wettstein.
“When you spend your life doing something that you love doing every single day and now you get to join this team with all your friends. … there are a lot of big feelings,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, California skateboarders dominate the National Skateboarding team. Besides the five San Diego County skateboarders who made the team, Nyjah Huston of Laguna Beach and Chris Joslin of Los Angeles, made the men’s street team, and Minna Stess of Petaluma joined women’s park.