By Reuben Barrack

If you skate in San Diego, then you’ve definitely come across this crew of women at our local skateparks, events and premiers who always bring the hype. We recently had the chance to catch a session together and get to know these rippers beyond the board: Michelle O’Leary, Alexia Lomeli, Trisha Mendez, Annabelle Burruss, Amanda Castillo, Nicole Brooks and Rachel Lehnert to name a few. A hand full of these members were recently crowned the People’s Choice Winners of the Witch Hunt in Seattle earlier this summer, which is only a glimpse into how much fun they have on a regular basis. 

Nothing but good vibes on a sesh with this crew!
Photo: Barrack

On the sesh, it was humbling to be in the presence of skaters who push each other without being overbearing. Their ecstatic encouragement, matched with their unconditional love and support for one another, is contagious. We need more skaters like this in the world, and these women lead by example as young professionals, prospective grad student and trade workers. Did I also mention that they all rip undeniably? Read along, and let their skating speak for itself. 

Michelle O’Leary

Where are you from? How old are you?

I’m 33. Born in Los Angeles, grew up in Oxnard, CA.

How long have you been skating?

I started trying tricks when I was 15. Before that I knew how to ride a skateboard and figured out how to Ollie but didn’t really think about trying tricks until someone asked me if I could kickflip. I think I landed my first kickflip two months later and was hooked.

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I’m a dog trainer. I teach classes out of a store.

An epic Switch Blunt Yank-In by Michelle.
Photo: Sanchez

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

I’m pretty into painting and artwork in general. I used to play guitar more too but not so much since I broke my elbow wrist and arm a couple years back, my arm doesn’t really turn too well any more [laughs].

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

Skateboarding is a double edged sword. It teaches you persistence and the ability to keep going no matter how much you’re hurting, but at the same time all the drive and energy many people put into their careers, I instead give to skating. It keeps me sane and something to look forward to, but I’m sure my family thinks I should have a much more prestigious job. I’d rather have the ability to skate every day.

How did y’all meet?

It’s weird that I didn’t even know any of the other girls besides Trisha and Brittney until pretty recently. We all met just through skateboarding. It seems like when they built a lot of the new parks all of a sudden our circles started overlapping.

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

All of our drive is pure fun. We get together and spend the whole session laughing. Speaking for myself, I’ve never tried to be competitive in skating so I can try whatever I feel like without pressure taking away any of the fun or creative aspects. We don’t talk shit on anyone, we just try to hype everyone up.

“We don’t talk shit on anyone, we just try to hype everyone up.”

What motivates you to keep skating?

I don’t need even need a motivation to skate. Skateboarding has always had a pull on me since I started. It’s much harder to NOT skate. I went through a few years in a row where I blew out my ACL, then shattered my arm, then separated my shoulder all back to back and I just couldn’t not skate. 

Dream sponsor?

Shoes would be nice. Antihero in theory, but I don’t think they even make boards my size [laughs].

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

If you want to do something, do it. Don’t care about what anyone thinks or says or if you’re not as good as the people around you. Also, be confident in yourself. If you think you can land something, you’ll land it. Most of all have fun. Get thrilled when you learn something new. Enjoy hanging out with your friends.

Trisha Mendez

Where are you from? How old are you?

I am from Del Mar, California and I am 24 years old.

Proper Stand up 5-0 by Trisha!
Photo: Sanchez

How long have you been skating?

I have been skating for about nine years.

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I’m a full time Dental Assistant.

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

Other than skateboarding I’ve been trying to go to school for directing, one day I want to direct my own independent movie.

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

Well when I was 18 I was going to community college for psychology, I dropped out to skate full time. My mom then threatened me if I didn’t find a job or go back to school she would kick me out. I found an easy way out and went to dental school for nine months, which I still had time to skate during the day and do school at night. I enjoy my job but it was the best choice I’ve ever made, it pays for all my skateboarding trips and I still have weekends off to skate.

How did y’all meet?

I met all the girls at different times of my life, we then started skating with each other everyday. It was great because there was a lot of us girls, so no matter what, one of us could always meet up to skate or hangout. I love one day out of the week when we would all meet up at the park and just take over the skatepark, wish we had more of those days.

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

We push each other in a positive way, even if one is learning how to drop in we don’t judge. I grew up only skating with guys so I knew how uncomfortable it felt to eat shit and learn new things when the guys were tougher to skate with. I wanted to make sure that it doesn’t matter who’s looking at you, just block them out and do what you love.

“I wanted to make sure that it doesn’t matter who’s looking at you, just block them out and do what you love.”

What motivates you to keep skating?

I love skateboarding so much ever since I started, I’ll never let it go. I like to learn new things and take everyone’s advice. Also, when I get a chance to give away product to other kids who need it. I’ll do it because not everyone can afford to buy it.

Dream sponsor?

I don’t really have one but so far, but DC sends me shoes. Which I’m so grateful for! I’m more focused on skating, but if I get more sponsors then hell yeah! Shout out to Slappy’s Garage, Huh Bearings and DC shoes.

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

Do what you love and always have fun!

Amanda Castillo

Amanda and Trisha ready to destroy their home turf at City Heights park. Peep our insta for the footy.
Photo: Barrack

Where are you from? How old are you?

I’m 28 and from Santa Maria, CA. 

How long have you been skating?

I’ve been skating for 22 years.

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I work events full time and skate as much as possible when I can. 

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

I like to sew in my free time. It’s fun to create something new.

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

Skating teaches you to just keep it moving. You get out of it what you put in. It’s worth the work. Don’t settle. 

How did y’all meet?

We met skating different spots and parks or through mutual friends. Skate community is rad!

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

The crew is super supportive. Everyone is always hyped and encouraging. No negative competitive or jealous vibes just love. Everyone is down to try something that scares the crap out them which really hyped me up! The level is consistently progressing!

What motivates you to keep skating?

The adrenaline rush I get from skating is addicting. The community and reactions from the next generation warms my heart.️ Watching the womxn skate scene revolution before my eyes is inspiring. 

“Watching the womxn skate scene revolution before my eyes is inspiring.”

Dream sponsor?

Dream sponsor would be an airline or Airbnb so the homies and I can go on more skate trips! 

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

Enjoy every session with your homies, ya never know when things will change.

Nicole Brooks

Where are you from? How old are you?

I am from Sterling, Massachusetts, I am 30 years old.

Nicole knows how to keep the session fun and light hearted.
Photo: Sanchez

How long have you been skating?

I have been skating since I was 10. 

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I’m a bartender, I am in school for computer programming.

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

I love music and like to play instruments, and love playing with my friends and my dog.

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

It’s definitely taught me perseverance. learning a trick doesn’t always come that easy. You got to work for it! The hard work pays off because landing a new trick is the best feeling in the world.

“The hard work pays off because landing a new trick is the best feeling in the world.”

How did y’all meet?

We all met in San Diego through the skate scene.

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

My crew have become my best friends. there is no one like them. They are all so supportive and kind. We influence and motivate one another every day. Everywhere we go they bring that hype, hype hype, hype hypeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

What motivates you to keep skating?

I am just addicted to it. skating is the best thing eva, I will skate forever.

Dream sponsor?

Ciroc®.

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

Shred the gnar kids…. GET ITTTTTT!

Rachel Lehnert

Where are you from? How old are you?

San Diego native baybee. 30, eek. 

How long have you been skating?

Off and on for 2 years- injuries have set me back but I am pushing through!  Hopefully many more years ahead to keep progressing. 

Much deserved bevy break at the park with Rachel, Trisha, and the Pup.
Photo: Barrack

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I am a Geriatric Social Worker. I also run a music program and socialization program for persons living with dementia. I will be going to Grad School in August 2020. Ah!

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

Snowboarding.

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

Skateboarding has influenced not just my work ethic but me as an individual. It has forced me to be vulnerable and take risks. To prioritize. To challenge myself. To accept a bad day as a bad day and appreciate the little accomplishments. It’s crazy to think how skateboarding really can translate into all aspects of life.  

How did y’all meet?

I met Annabelle through a mutual friend, and we have been best buds ever since. Annabelle then introduced me to all the skate homies, who are all beautiful human beings inside and out. I am so lucky to have met them all. 

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

These are the most positive and supportive group of girls, on and off a skateboard. They are always smiling, laughing, and just having a good time. It’s hard not to feel good when you are around them.   

What motivates you to keep skating?

Skateboarding is the most challenging and intimidating thing I have ever pursued but what keeps me motivated is simple- there is nothing that compares to the feeling of the board under your feet. 

Dream sponsor?

I guess one that is ethical and trying to make the world a better place. Or TJ Oyster Bar.  Yeah, TJ Oyster Bar. 

“Your biggest critic is you, so tell yourself you can do it and you will.”

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

BEND YOUR DAMN KNEES. Really, that’s just advice for me. Skateboarding is 1% physical and 99% mental. Seriously, get out of your head. Your biggest critic is you, so tell yourself you can do it and you will. 

Alexia Lomeli

Where are you from? How old are you?

I’m originally from Rosarito, Mexico but when I was about 9 I moved to San Diego. So I got to grow up on both sides of the border. 

Alexia with a steezy Backside Slasher at the crew’s favorite weekend spot.
Photo: Barrack

How long have you been skating?

I’ve been skating for 5 years now.

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I just started a job working with visually impaired children for the Chula Vista elementary school district. It’s a very small department but my job rules. I also go to school. I’m working on my undergrad in psychology at a community college and hoping to transfer to UCSD to do something in the clinical psych field. 

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

I love floristry. My family on both sides owns flower shops. One is in Tijuana and the other in Rosarito. I grew up surrounded by flowers/flower arrangements. The majority of my weekends were spent helping my mom set up tea lights around the flower arrangements she made for weddings. It was really fun! So I love all of that. I also love drawing cards for people I love. 

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

Before I started skating I had awful anxiety. Once I learned how to skate and I met a bunch of people in the skateboarding community it pushed me to go outside my comfort zone and learn more about myself. This was around the time I got a job working with moderate to severe special needs children. It’s an extremely tough job and skateboarding was such a huge influence on my patience and determination within my job. I was used to falling and getting back up to try again (in skating) so I applied this to my job. Every time I felt like I couldn’t get through to one of my kids I tried tweaking my approach. It helped so much. Eventually I learned that when I have a tough day at work the way to cope with my stress is through skateboarding.

How did y’all meet?

I met everyone that I skate with different ways. Mostly at skateboarding events or through mutual friends. It’s really cool because most female skaters with go up to you and talk/make friends at the parks. 

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

My friends are sooo fucking supportive! Anything I do, even if it’s dancing on my board is like the most celebrated thing ever. I’m so stoked to have met them. I feel like the thing we all have in common is that we skate for fun. They’re also amazing teachers. There’s nothing I can’t ask or that they’re not willing to literally hold my hands through. BEST BUNCH A GIRL COULD ASK FOR. 

What motivates you to keep skating?

Skateboarding is always there. If I have a bad day, if I’m having an amazing day, if I feel like laughing, if I feel like screaming. It’s just always there. It’s something that nourishes me. I feel whole when I’m able to balance my life and my skating time! 

Dream sponsor?

Vans for shoes hands down. They’re just the OG skateboarding company for me. Oh, and of course independent trucks too! 

“It takes big ovaries to go to a skatepark alone and learn, but it’s worth it.”

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

My advice would be to skate for fun. Oh, and don’t get intimidated at the park! It takes big ovaries to go to a skatepark alone and learn, but it’s worth it. 

Annabelle Burruss

Where are you from? How old are you?

I’m from Temecula, California and I’m 22 years old.

How long have you been skating?

I started skating about two and a half years ago. 

What’s your dayjob? Are you in school?

I currently work at the Port of San Diego as an Environmental Compliance Inspector in the Environmental Protection department.

Any side passions/creative pursuits?

Besides skating, I enjoy drawing and painting in my free time. I participated in my first art show this past August and hope to stumble upon more artistic opportunities in the future. Similar to skating, art gives me an outlet to express my feelings and personality.

How has skating influenced your work ethic?

Although skating has become a social activity for me, it has also helped me focus on my own personal progression and growth. Through skating, I’ve learned how to trust my own abilities, learn from my mistakes, pick myself up after falls, and push myself past limits that terrify me. Putting myself through that kind of discomfort every time I step onto my board has given me courage that carries over into my work environment. There are many uncomfortable situations that I find myself in as a compliance inspector, but the confidence and courage that I’ve developed through skating helps me make authoritative judgments and decisions at work. Quick shoutout to my amazing Port family for constantly supporting me and my skating! You are all a rad group to work with.

“Through skating, I’ve learned how to trust my own abilities, learn from my mistakes, pick myself up after falls, and push myself past limits that terrify me.”

How did y’all meet?

I met these girls through the skate community and by seeing them occasionally at the skatepark. I used to be intimidated of skate parks in general when I first started skating, but felt more and more comfortable as I met more girl skaters. 

What is it about your crew that makes them so rad?

Everyone in this crew is full of hype! No matter what level you are at in your skating, each one of these girls will LOUDLY support your progression. As much as skating is a battle with your own physical abilities, it’s also a chance to connect with like minded people who share that same passion and help push you to your limits. While being considerate of things way outside of my comfort zone, each one of these girls has persuaded me to try new tricks, encouraged me to keep skating when I’ve felt defeated, offered advice on improvements when I needed it, and hyped me up when I landed the things they told me I could do all along. The best part about this crew is that they are all my best friends outside of skating. Every one of them is goofy as hell in their own way. I’m always smiling and laughing when spending time with them, which adds to the overall joy skateboarding brings to my life. I’m more than grateful to have rad pals like them!

There’s no stopping Annabelle when she puts her mind to it. This Boardslide ain’t shit!
Photo: Barrack

What motivates you to keep skating?

Skateboarding brings me so much happiness! It is much more than just a hobby or a sport. Skating has completely changed the way that I think, interact, and go about my day-to-day life. I’ve developed a stronger sense of identity by being a part of the San Diego skate community. I can thank skating for introducing me to a vast and diverse group of friends, who I now consider family. Apart from the social benefits, skating also gives me an outlet to express my personality, helps me release stress, gives me an excuse to exercise outside, and satisfies my need to constantly progress at something. All of these things and more are what motivate me to keep skating.

Dream sponsor?

White Claw® Hard Seltzer.

Last words/advice for young skaters? 

Keep shredding and have fun while doing it!

Everyone gets a bit of camera time on these sessions.
Photo: Sanchez

More photos from Barrack:

Follow this crew on Instagram to keep up with the hype!

Michelle, Alexia, Nicole, Trisha, Annabelle, & Amanda

See more photos from Eduardo HERE.