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Imagine going to a skatepark and seeing 80 kids compete against each other in skateboarding as a team sport, with moms and fans who drive them there in minivans, and a squad of cheerleaders rooting them on.
The scene would have been an absolute anomaly about a decade ago, but all has changed with the Orange County Skateboarding League (OCSL).
Costa Mesa High School Cheerleaders at an OC Skateboarding League competition.
Now a year old, the OCSL is a non-profit organization that was founded by Katrina Foley to give kids in local middle and high schools access to non-traditional sports, and a chance to compete against each other in skateboarding, as they would in a sport like basketball, football or baseball.
Foley is a former Costa Mesa City Councilwoman, a current member of the Newport Mesa Unified School District Board of Education, and a mom of a skateboarder and snowboarder.
There are about 80 kids who compete at a time and almost 300 people who show up to skate parks to watch the events live. There are snack bars at the events, and several schools come with their own cheerleading squads.
While some members of the core audience may cringe at the thought of pom poms and minivans flooding skateparks, OC Skate League Director at Large Jim Gray says, “I haven’t seen one 16 year-old complain about the cheerleaders yet.”
He also said there’s a whole new generation of skaters coming in and growing the sport, and that they are much more open minded to competition and having fun, and less concerned with filming themselves skating the same rail or curb over and over.
For the skate industry as a whole, the timing is appropriate. According to a study by Board-Trac, skateboarding participation and sales have tracked the down economy and falling demographics in the key ages for skateboarding. In 2008, there were about 10.2 million skaters and in 2010, that number fell to about 8 million.
Since their inception in March of 2010, several skate brands have become involved in the OCSL. We talked to President and Founder Katrina Foley about the league, what brands and schools are involved, how they are doing, where they are expanding and what this means for skateboarders and the industry.
I formed the league in March 2010. We started with only four schools and now have 20 this season (10 middle and 10 high schools). We are scheduled to add a minimum of 10 more Orange County school teams next season, as well as a San Diego region with an additional 10 teams. We’re looking at doubling by next season.
See Page 2 for more about Orange County Skateboarding League