ENCINITAS — If it hadn’t been for attending a skateboarding demo featuring some of the sport’s best female skaters, Amelia Brodka might never have gotten the idea that she could do that, too.
Brodka, 26, only got into skateboarding when, at around the age of 12, she saw women skateboarding for the first time in the X-Games in Philadelphia. It was Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, Cara Beth Burnside and some others that caught her attention.
“That was the first time that I realized that skateboarding was something that I could participate in,” she said.
Having grown up in Poland and then on the East Coast of the U.S., Brodka, who now resides in Oceanside, said she didn’t do any other types of sports before riding a skateboard, adding that she was never really athletic.
Now, having made it as a professional skater, a tough enough feat for anyone, Brodka has also seen the lack of opportunities for girls to be able to fully pursue the sport.
Though that seems to be changing, and Brodka might be part of the reason why.
In 2013 Brodka teamed up with Lesli Cohen to co-found EXPOSURE, a nonprofit with the goal of helping to create more opportunities for girls and women in skateboarding.
Just as Burnside and Hawkins helped pave the way and inspire Brodka, she hopes to do the same for the next generation of female skaters.
“In any way I can, I would like to create more opportunities for girls to pursue skateboarding and to get involved in skateboarding,” she said.
She highlighted the plight of female skaters in the 2012 film she created, “Underexposed: A Women’s Skateboarding Documentary.” She explained how the idea for the film stemmed from a combination of things — namely the growth of female skaters and their talents, and at the same time, the dwindling of opportunities for the girls.
“It was already a challenging time for any of the girls to get any real sponsorships,” she said. “So it seemed competitions were really the only avenue for women to pursue skateboarding, and yet all of these big competitions were canceling their women’s divisions. So all of the sudden, it seemed like there was no way for these girls to pursue this,” she said.
Since the film came out, Brodka said she’s seen progression in the industry in terms of more women’s skateboarding events, more female representation in the media and more female-oriented skateboarding companies.
Though she’s quick to point out that she can’t attribute that to the film, but more to a combination of things, including such organizations as the Action Sports Alliance, (co-founded by Burnside), which has been working for a long time to help ensure the growth of women’s skateboarding.
On Saturday, the Encinitas Community Park will get exposed to some of the best female skaters in the world. More than 90 skaters are slated to attend the annual EXPOSURE women’s benefit event, with proceeds being donated to the Community Resource Center’s Carol’s House, a North County domestic violence emergency shelter.
Brodka said the turnout for skaters has tripled since the event started in 2012, which speaks volumes to the interest of females to the sport.
As an instructor at his own skateboard academy in Encinitas, Neal Mims can speak firsthand to the increased interest from girls to the sport.
“Now it’s becoming an odd question,” he said of being asked about girls in skateboarding, “because it’s more normal than it ever has been these days for girls to be skateboarding.”
A number of Mims’ students will be competing and putting on a demonstration at the EXPOSURE event.
“It’s obviously an inspiration to other girls and women, to empower them to do things that are out of the ordinary — stereotypes of what girls would be doing sports wise,” Mims said.
“It’s amazing not only what Amelia is doing for women’s skateboarding but this whole EXPOSURE thing just opens up the doors and opens up the minds of people that may frown upon girls being skateboarders,” said Mims.
Having spent more than 30 years around skateboarding, 16 of those as a professional, Mims said that he feels for the younger generation (male or female) aspiring to become professional skateboarders because of the sheer technicality of the sport these days.
But what it comes down to, though, is making sure to have fun with the sport, he said.
As for Brodka, skateboarding means the world to her, she said. “It has brought me to a lot of amazing places and people. It’s really inspired the course of my life and I’m really grateful for that,” Brodka said.
The EXPOSURE women’s skate benefit is Nov. 7 at the Encinitas Community Park, 425 Santa Fe Dr. The free event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is at exposureskate.org.