Gonzaga’s first female-run skate club is making its way to campus. Womxn Skate is a skate sistxrhood dedicated to inclusion and empowerment for skaters of all levels and trades.
Sophomores Elle Dindinger and Katya Cerny started the club after getting into skateboarding during quarantine. As beginners, their eyes were opened to how gate-kept skateboarding is when they were met with criticism and a lack of support in their learning.
“You can’t be a sick skater if you don’t learn, so it doesn’t make sense that there is so much judgement toward learning,” Dindinger said.
After spending many afternoons skateboarding the Logan Neighborhood together, they were inspired to create a club to empower other skaters on campus and get a mob of girls to go out and skate with.
“We see a ton of girls skate on campus, it’s obvious that it’s a part of the culture here at Gonzaga,” Dindinger said.
Dindinger and Cerny are in the process of getting the club affiliated with GU. The club hopes to be official by the end of March, but they plan on holding unofficial meet-ups until then. As a club, it plans to host skate meet-ups a couple times a month, teach new skaters and help them improve, encourage beginners, create a supportive environment and make new friends.
“The overall goal is just to build a community of people who can meet up and skate together or even just meet up and hang out and connect with one another,” Cerny said.
Womxn Skate wants to overcome the boundaries preventing women and nonbinary people from learning how to skateboard. The stigma around learning keeps a lot of people from trying the sport, even if it is something as casual as boarding around the neighborhood.
“If a woman knows how to skate, that’s sick. But if it's a woman learning how to skate, people are like ‘why would you do that? That’s so embarrassing,'" Dindinger said.
Dindinger and Cerny were very intentional with the use of “womxn” in their name and “sistxrhood” in their mission statement. The skate community is notoriously gate kept by straight men, and only recently has there been a push for diversity and inclusion within the community.
The use of “womxn” in their name is a direct invitation to those who identify as a woman, transgender or nonbinary person. This wording reflects their mission statement and shows their commitment to inclusion within their own club.
“We just wanted to make sure that everybody feels welcome, and if you are accepting of all people, join us because that is the vibe we want in Womxn Skate,” Dindinger said.
Their mission statement is a key part of the club’s identity. Dindinger and Cerny are dedicated to a healthy, inclusive club environment that they hope will spill over onto the rest of campus and the skate community itself.
“This GU club is meant to provide a safe place for all forms of self expression and fosters a sistxrhood that creates a system of support and works to promote social justice on a larger scale across GU,” reads the second part of their mission statement.
Make no mistake, Womxn Skate is not just for those who identify as a woman. The club is open for people of all identities, as long as they are willing to stand behind and support the vision they present in their mission statement.
Rollerskaters and Rollerbladers are welcome too. Womxn Skate is a club open to all types of wheels, but Dindinger and Cerny only know how to skateboard.
Womxn Skate hopes to diminish the barriers that might prevent someone from trying the sport. This includes intimidation, but also equipment. The club hopes to secure funding from GU, and then use that funding to purchase community boards that members can use to learn with until they can purchase their own.
Cerny and Dindinger can also help club members find boards within their price range for the kind of skating they want to do, through local shops or online stores.
“We want women to feel comfortable making mistakes, to be able to learn from them because failing is really important,” Cerny said.
Madeline Gatewood, a freshman political science major, casually Rollerbladed as a kid but is excited to get back into skating. She is one of the members of Womxn Skate and plans to learn how to skateboard.
“I like the idea of having a bunch of girls come together that you can meet and hang with and learn to skate at the same time,” Gatewood said.
A supportive environment is the most important part of the learning process, and Womxn Skate is ensuring that space. Whether you have experience or not, all that matters is that you want to learn and are dedicated to keeping the space Dindinger and Cerny have made inclusive and welcoming.
If you are interested in joining Womxn Skate, check out its Instagram (@womxnskategu) and fill out the form in its bio to get connected.