Interview and photos by Nick Shields
Micah Walker rips! That is the number one thing you need to know! But… she is also just an all around rad human who surrounds herself with like-minded people. Making a big move from her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky during the pandemic and being a traveling nurse, she found relief through a long-discarded passion of hers, skateboarding. Having not picked up a board in 12 years, Micah has racked up a nice list of local sponsors after just 2 years of finding the spark that reignited her love of skateboarding. Impressive to say the least. Jason Carney, owner of Slappy’s Garage skate shop in San Diego, had this to say about her, “Micah is an amazing person, anyone who has met her knows that right from the start. We’re happy to be able to help her continue to do what she loves and spread the positive energy on to everyone she meets. The world needs more Micahs.” Keep an eye out for more Micah footage coming your way and get to know a little more about where she comes from and her point of view on skateboarding as a whole.
Well first off, Micah, how are you doing?
I’m doing good. I’m gonna keep it low-key, but I do have the day off, so I’m excited to chill, catch up on some laundry, clean, and skate a little bit. Maybe take my dogs to the park.
Tell me about your two dogs because that’s been a big focal point on the sessions. You go everywhere seemingly with your two dogs and sometimes they’re a little crazy.
They are. I’m trying to get them out and about so that they can just get more used to it. Remy is a COVID puppy, before I had her, this other girl did and had to re-home her, but I think a lot of the COVID dogs have separation anxiety because they got really used to being with their owners 24/7. They can be an interference at times, but for the most part, they’re a lot of fun to have around. I got them with an ex of mine and so I was not planning on having two dogs by myself. But that’s what happens when you make gay girl decisions [laughs].
But I wasn’t expecting to have them by myself so it has been a huge learning curve to have the responsibility of not one puppy, but two puppies. They are still kind of young so I’m still working on training them and getting them socialized and things like that. But yeah, they are a huge part of my life. You’re not wrong about that.
And real quick, what are their names, breeds, and their personalities?
Cooper is my Shiba Inu and she is an 18 pound ball of independent woman. She is the boss around here. [chuckle] She thinks she is at least, I’m trying to convince her that I am. She’s funny, she bosses around Remy, who’s my like 45 pound Husky/American Staffordshire terrier mix. And yeah, Cooper thinks that she’s bigger and badder, which I guess is common for little dogs, but Remy is a lot more derpy and derpy is the word I wanna use, I don’t know why. [laughs]. She is definitely the one with more separation anxiety. They’re both very playful. They’re both very high-energy still as young pups. I think I’ll keep them around.
I heard you threaten Remy. “Don’t make me use your full name.” What are the dogs’ full names?
Cooper’s is Cooper Ruu and Remy is Remington Reef.
I love it. Now let’s get this started, where’d you grow up?
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, which I don’t know if I’ve met anybody else out here in San Diego that is from there. I moved from Kentucky when I was 17 and started jumping around the east coast.
And how old are you now?
10 years ago?
Do you miss it or how are your memories there?
I have mixed feelings about growing up in Kentucky. I like Louisville. Louisville is a cool town. It’s got character and good food and a good music scene and stuff. But Kentucky is quite a bit more conservative. It’s also interesting, like I grew up skating in Louisville as a really young girl, I started at probably 10 years old, maybe 11, then I quit when I was around 14, but from the time I was like 10-13, I became well known in that community just ’cause I was literally the only girl skateboarding. [laughs]
So to come out to a place like San Diego where there’s such a huge scene of female skateboarders, it’s kind of like, you’re a big fish in a little pond until you’re thrown into the ocean and then you’re like, “holy fucking shit, this is wild. There’s so many of them.” It’s really cool, it inspires me and pushes me and makes me better to be around so many incredible skateboarders, but it’s really different from growing up in a place like Louisville.
You touched on a few things that I wanted to ask about, but first, how did you actually get into skateboarding?
I had a cousin that skated, he actually got me into everything. He’s somebody that I looked up to when I was younger. He introduced me to playing guitar and he introduced me to Nirvana. I have a tattoo appointment this week where I’m getting the In Utero album cover tattoo on my stomach. So a lot of the things that are important to me actually were inspired from having this older cousin that I used to hang out with. I was like, “this rad plank of wood on wheels is super fun. I wanna try to do this more.” And I just took off with it, I fell in love with it immediately.
That’s dope. Did you progress pretty quickly or was it a long progression?
I feel like as a kid I was progressing really fast. It’s pretty much all I did. I also didn’t have a fully developed frontal lobe, so I wasn’t afraid of anything. [laughs] I was just sending it on everything. I was the first girl, maybe the only girl actually, to ever hit the handrail at this skatepark I grew up going to. I would just try shit. I think I was progressing a lot ’cause I wasn’t really afraid of anything. You’re just a lot more resilient when you’re younger. I feel like now I fall wrong and I’m like, my knee hurts for like three weeks. [laughs]
It’s really interesting too, how much I lost and had to relearn when I got back into skateboarding. Certain tricks used to be my go-to tricks and they just don’t click anymore. That’s always kind of a bummer when I’m like, “damn, I used to be so good at this trick, and now I don’t remember how to do it.”
You said you quit for like four years or longer?
Oh, I quit for like 12 years.
12 years! What caused you to stop skating in between that time?
It was maybe a little less than 12 years ’cause I think I got back in when I was 25, maybe 11 or 12 years, but I quit around 13 or 14. By the time I was 14 I was kind of phasing out of it when I got into high school, I went to this super annoyingly prestigious high school and everybody was obsessed with their academic journey. I guess I felt like I had to be as well because I was just in that environment, so I got really focused on school. Then, interestingly enough, I was a part of a super, super conservative group of churches. I tell people I grew up in a cult. I do think that’s true. [laughs] I know that sounds dramatic, but if I told you the shit that happened, you would be like, “Okay, yeah, that was a fucking cult.”
“I tell people I grew up in a cult.”
So what brought you back to skateboarding?
Yeah, so because I’m a nurse, I felt like I was losing my shit a little bit during COVID. I was just getting really antsy and irritated. Everything that I was doing was surrounded by COVID. I would go to work and that’s all that was going on, all that we were talking about and all that we were thinking about. And then you come home and you can’t really do anything with anybody. I was getting super antsy and I was like, “I need to do something that brings me back to life and makes me feel a glimpse of joy again.” And so I was like, “Skateboarding did that for me. Why don’t I just start skating again?”
And so I started doing that. It was really wild, I just started skating the streets of Louisville, just flatground and stuff. I started falling back in love with it. I was playing more guitar at that time too, but I just was getting really tired of sitting inside. So I went and got a new board and I was like, “I’ll pick this back up and see where I can take it. See if I can remember how to do some tricks and stuff.” I think things came back to me faster than I thought they would, but it’s still kind of a slow progression of relearning how to be on that plank of wood that rides on wheels.
You brought up music earlier and I did wanna talk about that. How did you get into music and how long have you been playing?
I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old and it was really cool and my dad was like, “If you wanna buy a guitar I’ll go halfsies with you.” I started with an electric guitar, which is kinda weird and random, not many people start with electric. I started with this little electric Epiphone that I got with my dad. I used to just sit in my room for hours, learning chords and progressions and different songs and stuff like that, and just became really familiar with the guitar. I am self-taught so I just sat down and would play it until I figured out what sounded good together and had a little chord book that I would reference but for the most part was just kinda sitting there, teaching myself until I got the hang of it and understood chord progressions and understood the tunings and all that stuff and just kind of fell in love with it.
What similarities do you find between playing music and skateboarding?
Well, like anything you give your time and energy to, often times the more you’re practicing it, the better you become. I find that to be true with guitar and skateboarding. I also find that as soon as there’s any pressure put onto the activity itself, it’s almost like it takes away the fun of it, it becomes something that I have to do. I remember I was recording an album when I was like 19 and I loved recording and I loved creating, I loved writing and producing and all that, but in a sense, the idea that there was money on the table and people’s time and things like that, I felt it taking away from the magic of just creating music when it was like I had to do this and I had to be in the studio and I had to be creating and meeting certain deadlines and stuff. It was kind of like it didn’t quite feel as right and fun and enjoyable when there’s that pressure. It’s the same for skateboarding, I think as soon there’s any “have to” behind it, it’s just not as fun anymore.
“I think as soon there’s any “have to” behind it, it’s just not as fun anymore.”
That makes sense. So, going back, you were back in Louisville when you started skating again?
I was, yeah. I had taken a contract there as a travel nurse.
Is that how you ended up in San Diego, was taking a contract out here?
Yeah, actually. So, this contract was supposed to be three months long. It ended up… It’s been two years at this point. [laughs]
Damn. When you came out here and you had your skateboard, were you overwhelmed by the skate scene here?
I was super overwhelmed at first, San Diego is truly unlike any other place. I guess maybe LA is kind of like this, but I’ve moved and been to a lot of places and I’ve never experienced a skate community quite like this. The sheer number of individuals that just skateboard is absurd. And then the people that are super good are just like… It’s nearly everyone. You’re like, “How are this many people this good at skateboarding.”
But yeah, it was really, really overwhelming and intimidating too. I was pretty new to getting back into skateboarding when I first moved here and not having a crew yet makes a huge difference when you’re just hitting the parks alone or going to spots alone. I think that makes a big difference too, and the intimidation factor. But once I saw my people, I was like, “I don’t really care. I’m just having fun and hanging out with my friends.”
How did you end up finding that crew? Because it seemed like you fit right in and I was like, “Has she always been here?”
Yeah, [laughs] no. I haven’t always been here. I met Trisha [Mendez] and Nikki [Brooks] at the Linda Vista skatepark. I feel like meeting them opened the door to the female skate scene here in San Diego. Also, a lot of my close friends now have just been in their circle, and getting to know a lot of the crew with Slappy’s Garage and a bunch of the girl skaters was initially just through meeting them and a couple of other people. Actually, I met my other friend Mitch [Sablan] who introduced me to a lot of people as well.
Even though you haven’t been skating for that long since getting back into it, you’ve got a couple of people that hook you up, right? Who are you sponsored by?
Slappy’s Garage is my San Diego shop sponsor. I really love the community aspect of Slappy’s, they’re really, really cool. Having that local connection has meant the world and the whole Slappy’s crew is just really good people, really rad and down to earth. I also skate for a board company called PILLLAR Skateboards. They’re really cool, they are a climate-positive skate brand, so they plant a tree for every skateboard that’s bought in association with the National Forest Foundation. I really like what they’re doing. Ultreya Coffee is another one, they’re a local coffee shop, kind of near the college area, and they make really good coffee. They also have a bunch of vegan stuff, which is my jam. I eat plant-based and love coffee so it works out really well.
How did you get involved with all those people?
PILLLAR, we connected on Instagram initially and I was kind of helping their brand try to take off more on the West Coast ’cause I was really excited about what they were doing and the vision that they had and they ended up putting me on the team, which was unexpected and wild, but I was like, “Fuck yeah, I’m so down!”
And then Slappy’s was just kind of being in San Diego the last couple of years and getting connected to a bunch of the Slappy’s crew and having those friendships. I’m close to Trisha and close to Danny [Goycoolea] and all of them. And so they’ve, been a huge part in putting in a good word for me and ended up talking to Jason [Carney] one day. He was like, “Yeah, we would love to put you on and have you represent Slappy’s.” So obviously that was a huge honor and super cool opportunity that I was not gonna pass up.
Ultreya, I also kind of got connected to her on social media as they kind of hosted some queer events that I was a part of and they were willing to put me on as a local skateboarder for the brand. It was kind of just an agreement like I would represent them and their apparel and their coffee and stuff like that and then they would hook me up and they’ve been doing that. It’s been a cool partnership.
You’ve found your way into the scene pretty quickly and easily, it sounds like.
Yeah, honestly if there was like one thing, like one life value that I would say is the pinnacle of the rest of my values in life it would probably be community. That’s the most important thing to me currently and has been for a while. So when I think of what I want my life to look like, and kind of the vision I have for it, it’s mostly just surrounded by and based on the idea of community and having a crew, having my people and knowing that you have that to fall back on, no matter what happens in your life, having community I think is the most important thing to me.
“..no matter what happens in your life, having community I think is the most important thing to me.”
I think you show that as well, knowing you, I think you surround yourself with good people. So I could definitely see that being a strong value to you.
Yeah, I hold that opinion as well. I think my people are the raddest.
Yeah. And as you get older too, it’s like, if somebody doesn’t add to your experience, it’s like you don’t have to keep them around.
Oh my God, that’s huge. I think the idea of protecting your energy, protecting your space, like knowing who you’re gonna let infiltrate that, is huge. And it’s a big part of growing up too, just having the understanding and the discernment of the kinds of people I’m gonna let take the limited time that I have here. I try not to get involved with stuff that I don’t wanna contribute any time and energy towards ’cause I’m like, “I don’t have unlimited amounts of it and I’m not trying to spend it involved in drama and chaos and stuff.” I would rather spend it having a good time with good people and making a difference in our little space in our community.
Are there any challenges you faced growing up in Louisville, or even now, being a woman or, more specifically, being a gay woman in skateboarding?
I think there are definitely always challenges to being any sort of minority. Like I said, growing up in Louisville being a girl skateboarder, it had its benefits, because when you are the only one you stand out and I think I got a lot of attention in Louisville when I was a kid. Female skateboarding is more common now, but when I was 12 years old it was not nearly as common. And so I think back then it was easier to get a little bit of the spotlight when you were the only one and you grew up in a town like that. So, I think it gave me more opportunities.
But… sometimes people, they look at a woman skateboarding and their reaction, if they’re pretty good is like, “Wow, you’re really good for a girl.” And it’s like, I don’t wanna be good for a girl, I wanna be good at skateboarding, period. That’s kind of a challenging thing to have said to you all the time. But skateboarding’s changing a lot and it’s becoming a lot more inclusive and I love that we’re moving in a direction where it’s like, everybody’s doing it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what sex you’re born with, what identity you choose or where you come from, people are just doing it, and they’re having a great time doing it. And so I think the challenges are becoming less and less apparent.
And I think we’re involved in some interesting conversations right now as a community with trans skateboarders because we’re having to face the question: Do we want to cling more to this concept of “fairness” or do we wanna cling more to this concept of acceptance, inclusivity and love as a community? For me, I’m always gonna lean on the side of love, acceptance, and inclusivity over this concept of “fairness” because at the end of the day, and maybe it’s because I’m not a competitive skateboarder, but to me, it’s just not the most important thing and I would rather be a part of a community that is accepting and feels like a place that’s safe for everyone than to be a part of a community that’s so obsessed with this idea of being fair in competitions, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. I don’t know if you share this perspective, but skateboarding to me kind of feels like it’s had kind of a fake sense of inclusivity for a long time, but maybe nowadays it’s becoming a little bit more inclusive, but it’s still not near 100%.
Oh yeah, I would agree with that. I would say San Diego does feel a lot more open and inclusive than certain places I’ve lived and even where I grew up, but there’s still growth to be had. I think people are learning and as long as there’s a willingness to learn, it’s only gonna get better. But if people are stubborn and unwilling to be taught, unwilling to have other people come into their spaces, then it’s gonna continue to feel like that fake inclusivity.
I do think it helps that more pro skateboarders, that are the face of skateboarding, get behind the idea of everybody having a place at the table when it comes to involving themselves in the community. I think the more we’re letting those people that have more of a platform be able to say like, “Hey, this is actually the kind of community we’re trying to create here.” The more it trickles down, right? And the kids that look up to those skateboarders and have their idols projecting those things are gonna be like, “Oh yeah, let me rethink that, ’cause this person who I look up to is standing for it. Let me figure out why.” I hope that’s what it does at least. I don’t know.
“..people are learning and as long as there’s a willingness to learn, it’s only gonna get better.”
Do you think giving more attention to people that are actually cool people and just progressing within their own skating could help skateboarding rather than just like, “Look at this guy who can do really hard tricks?”
Oh my God. Absolutely. Yeah, because it’s like, people with natural talent should definitely have that natural talent projected because they have it and the world should see that. I don’t think we should ever dim pure insane talent. The universe gives that to people as a gift to the world and that should never be dimmed or hidden in any way. I also think that’s not the end all be all. And that hopefully isn’t the entire point of skateboarding, it’s not for me and I hope it’s not for most people to just be the best or amazing at all of these like crazy tricks. For me, it’s so much bigger than that. It’s about having fun and being out there with your friend and progressing in your own realm of skateboarding. And if you’re realm of skateboarding isn’t up there with the pros, send it, still send it. Keep growing and pushing yourself ’cause that is what it’s about. In my mind it’s about challenging where you’re at and getting to the next step and just having fun along the way and as soon as it’s not fun anymore, then you’re doing it wrong, something’s off.
“..as soon as it’s not fun anymore, then you’re doing it wrong, something’s off.”
Yes, I totally agree! Is there anything else you want to touch on that I might have missed?
I don’t think so. We covered a lot, we did good.
How about any shoutouts you wanna give, anybody who helped you along the way or?
Oh yeah, definitely I wanna shout out my cousin who got me into skateboarding, Michael. I love seeing his journey, I’m super proud of him. My parents put up with a lot when I was a kid and looking back, I never had a lot of bumps along the road with them, but I’m like, “Man, they really did give a lot of their time and energy to me pursuing a passion that I had” Just by driving me around to the skatepark and being willing to take me there and wait for me to just get a little session. So I appreciate them a lot! Definitely wanna shout out Slappy’s and PILLLAR and Ultreya for their support in my skateboarding, it’s meant a ton having the crew that I have here and I feel super loved and supported and encouraged by the connections I have here in San Diego and across the world that are just wanting to be there and support that journey that I’m rediscovering in skateboarding. It’s been really cool.
Awesome, and to close this whole thing out, what is your goal in skateboarding? How far do you want to take it or are you just keeping it fun?
I have fun with it and I think that I have about 10 years left physically to be doing this kind of thing. I’m already feeling it in my knees and my ankles and stuff like that. But I think in general, I probably have about like 10 good years left physically to be pushing myself and sending it. I don’t really see skateboarding so much as like a sport in my life, it’s more of a community and a lifestyle, but in the sense of what it does physically, it is a challenge and it does push you. So while I have the physical capacity, I wanna see where I can take it. I wanna push the limits and wanna challenge myself. So if that leads to other opportunities, I’m super open and that would excite me but I think I just like having fun with it. I like building connections through it and I like pushing myself.
Oh yeah. I love that. Love that answer. I just wanna say thank you for doing this. And it’s been fun shooting photos and skating with you and watching you progress. So, thank you.
Thank you. This has been amazing. I appreciate you wanting to do this.
Keep up with Micah on Instagram @_micahwalker_
Read more interviews by Shieldless HERE!