SPOTLIGHT: Holly Lyons - Pro-skater
Think you're a Cool Girl? Well this chick certainly is! We got a chance to sit down and talk with Pro Skateboarder Holly Lyons about skating, gettin' girly and following your dreams. If you want to talk to a truly inspirational leader then read below! We're gonna go hit the half pipe.
Andrea: Hi Holly! It's so great to be able to chat with you today! Ok, first question. How did you first get into skateboarding and was it really hard to break into, especially being a girl?
Holly: Thanks you too. But, how did I first get into skateboard? Umm, let’s see… I was a teenager and one of my sister’s friend was going out with a professional skateboarder. I grew up in Walnut Creek and they lived in Concord and she was like, “Hey there are all these guys so come over to this house.” And we were a group of girls and so of course we started hanging out over there. We would always watch the guys skate and we always thought it was really cool. After a little while I wanted to learn because I grew up playing softball, volleyball, and other sports. Actually, one of the guys was like, “Girls don’t skateboard.” I was like, “What do you mean?” And he’s just like, “I don’t know, I’ve never seen a girl skateboard.” I just shrugged it off and said, “Well I’d love to learn and I’d love to skate.” After that, they were cool with it and two of the guys gave me skateboards, t-shirts, and stuff. That’s pretty much how I started. Yea, I just wanted to do it because I used to play sports and it seemed so cool.
Andrea: Was it really hard being a girl? Did they give you a hard time for being or were they really supportive about it?
Holly: They weren’t negative about it; it was more like they’ve never seen a girl skate so they just didn’t understand it yet. I think now a days it’s not such a big deal to see a girl out there, but back then, there were never any girls skating. It’s just that they weren’t used to it, ya know? Anyway, they were all really supportive. But when I would get bruises on my leg from falling on the mini ramps and stuff like that, the guys were always like, “You’re so cute. You don’t want to get hurt do you?” Blah blah blah… But I really wanted to learn and I didn’t mind the bruises. That was the only time that guys were like you shouldn’t skate because they didn’t want to see me get hurt.
Andrea: Have you ever gotten scared to get hurt while competing because I would be totally scared to fall?
Holly: Well since I’ve always played sports, I’ve always been kind of hard on my body. Playing volleyball, you dive a lot and you roll and people always called me raggedy. They’d say, “You just throw yourself around everywhere.” So I’ve always had strawberries on my hips and bruises on my arms and legs from volleyball. I played for six years in clubs and in high school so I’ve been kind of used to it. And it was fun, not that I liked falling, but flying through the air was fun. I liked throwing my body around. I mean you get scared of falling and I get scared now trying to learn new tricks. We all get scared doing things your mind and your bodies have never done before, but I still enjoy it. I mean not the pain. It’s hard to explain, but yea…I enjoy it. I enjoy throwing myself around.
Andrea: So I read that you’re first in the world for Female Bowl Skateboarding and second in the world for Female Vert Skateboarding. That’s such a huge achievement. Did you ever think that you’d make it this far in the sport?
Holly: Not at all, I never thought of myself as a professional skateboarder or even wanted to be one. I feel like in some weird way this is like my destiny, but I really didn’t think I would be here. I just loved to skateboard because it was always really fun and it felt really good. And when you would learn a difficult trick, it’s really gratifying. So I just like to skate and when I did skate it just took me away from the problems of the world. I didn’t have to worry about my bills or guys or this or that. It was the one time that I felt really free and peaceful. Even though it doesn’t seem like a peaceful sport, I just felt mentally at peace. I just loved doing it and I never thought I would end up where I am.
I went to college and then afterwards I wanted to snowboard and my parents were like you have an education. And my whole families into business so they just thought I would go directly into the business world, but I’ve always had this energy and I’ve always liked to play sports so I said well I’m going to move to Tahoe and snowboard for awhile. I’ve always respected my parents so I was like I’ll just do it for a year or two and then I’ll come back and get a real job. But then I loved it so much I started competing in snowboarding. I wanted my parents to see that I wasn’t just goofing off or anything.
So I started competing and then I did well as an amateur and so I started competing professionally as a snowboarder. So I just kept skating and all my sponsors were really nice because I told them I moved and they just put me on a skate teams. They were like go from the snowboarding team to a skate team. And then I got asked and invited to the X Games and Gravity Games the first year. In a way, it just kind of happened that I became a professional skateboarder. I just kept doing it because I loved it and I’ve been competitive ever since I was a little kid so it’s always been just natural for me to do contests. You always feel like you have a point when your in skate or snowboard contests because you practice for the events and it helps you to see where you are at and what you can improve on. So that’s why I compete and that how I kind of ended up where I am. I guess I’m just competitive by nature. And it not like your competitive against other people, it’s more like a competition against yourself. You test yourself because you always want to be better everyday. It’s just testing your own self to see if you’re improving in life. That’s kind of how I became a professional skateboarder, but I never thought I’d get this far. I never really put much thought to it in that sense. You’re just like these are my goals.
I’m just really happy with the results. I just kind of went with it. I went in and said don’t think and try your best. Thinking can totally go against you. Your mind can be your best friend or it can be your greatest enemy. So I try not to think too much, ya know? I skate and I’ve practice so I know what I know, kind of like a test, I’ve studied and I know what I know so just go out and do your best. Whatever happens happens.
Andrea: That’s a good attitude. How do you stay girly and be yourself in a sport that is so dominated by males?
Holly: I think I’ve always been like a girly girl. I mean I did have a period where I dyed my hair black and I stopped wearing makeup and wore totally baggy clothes. In the early mid 90’s, when there weren’t any girls in skateboarding, I felt that I was supposed to look like a boy. I was young and I was just trying to figure everything out. So there was a time period where I tried to be like a guy, but then I was like wait, this isn’t me at all. I’m totally a girl, like in our volleyball team we would wear ribbons in our hair. Yea, and I just realized this is who I am. I’m a girly girl and I like it and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it. And I feel being in my position where I can inspire other girls, it’s important to let them know you can be a tomboy if you want, but you can be a effeminate girl if you want too and that’s okay. I feel like that is my way of inspiring other girls by being feminine and myself. I don’t think it’s hard in a way because I think guys enjoy seeing a girl that is feminine and can skateboard too.
I definitely do get opposition from some of the other females because girls aren’t always the nicest people. I’m just skating and having fun and I’ve had girls say, “You’re too girly.” And I’m always like, “What does that mean?” So I just do my own thing and live my life to be true to myself. I just do my best to be a positive role model to younger girls.
Andrea: I love your Chihuahua, Re-Run. We’re all definitely pet lovers over here. Do you get to take him traveling to all your competitions with you?
Holly: He went to my last contest in Arizona, but most of the time he stays at home and I have my friends or my parents take care of him.
Andrea: I love your skate shoes and how they have a picture of Re Run on the bottom?
Holly: I know, I think that’s just the best part. I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to live my life with my Chihuahua. I feel like he’s my best side and I always promote him. It’s so funny too because all my friends are like, “Your dog doesn’t know how cool he is.”
Andrea: How does it make you feel to know that you’ve paved the way for other girls interested in skateboarding, to have younger girls look up to you and go, “Hey I can do that too?”
Holly: It feels awesome and I’ve always been somebody who’s wanted to help other people and I totally enjoy it. I’ve been a snowboard coach and a skateboard coach for both boys and girls and it always feels so good to inspire and help other people grow to be better people. To help them follow their dreams and to realize their dreams is such an honor. I have the “Ask A Pro” page for Cool Girl skateboards and I get girls that write in from all around the world asking me questions. I’ve had girls from Bulgaria, Iceland, and Scotland—all these places that I didn’t even know girls were into skateboarding or thought about it. I even got a question from a girl in Iraq. I get a lot from Europe like in England and of course America and New Zealand. So it’s been really cool. This one girl actually wrote in a three-page letter about how I’ve changed her life and how I’ve given her purpose for living. It like totally made me cry and if nothing else this made me feel like my life had a purpose.
Andrea: What would be a good age for a girl to start skating? What advice would you give to a girl who wants to skate, but is scared to try or is slightly embarrassed?
Holly: I started out where I started out and I wasn’t like 11 or 12. I met a girl who was 13 and she was like, “I think I’m too old to learn.” and I was like, “I didn’t even skateboard then!” So I feel like any age is a great time to learn. And skateboarding is really mental, so it’s really when you’re mentally ready to test your limits. But when you are younger, your body is a little more resilient and doesn’t break as easily. Your mind is also more apt to learning new things. It’s a little bit tough when your older cause your brain get more set in it’s ways and you have more reservation. When you’re young you think you’re invincible and you can do anything and you don’t really think much past that. But I don’t think there is any set age. I think whenever you are mentally ready that’s the time you should go and learn.
I felt really stupid and embarrassed too when I was learning because here I was learning in front of all these professional skateboarders. When I first started I never ever wanted to skate in front of them because I could barely even stand on thing, I felt so stupid. But I was determined to learn because it looked so beautiful and so fun. And I knew once I got past this hump, it would be fun. My hump was just falling and bruising and cuts for about a year and a half. I wasn’t very good at it at all at first. My friend actually learned with me and we would just literally skate down the street and try to roll over cracks. We would go to parking garages late at night by ourselves. We’d go in her driveway really early in the morning or late at night when nobody was there. We were so embarrassed. We didn’t want to be seen by anybody. So I feel for all the girls that feel dumb or think guys will make fun of them. I know how hard that is. It can be intimidating, but you just have to really believe in yourself and really want to it for yourself. Don’t let other people discourage you and don’t be self conscious, even though it is really hard for us females, especially because we are bread by society to worry about how we look all the time. It’s definitely harder for a girl than a guy because guys are meant to be out there and active. It definitely does take a strong female to have the guts to say I want to go out there and do it for me.
I think the reason why people who do sports get better because they do it for themselves and not to impress somebody. You have to do it because you believe in yourself and you believe in what you are doing. If you like the way it makes you feel and you have that innate desire inside you, you should just go out and do it. There were so many times when my mom and my grandparents were like, “You have a college education. What are you doing with your life and this cast on your arm? Why why why?” I even said that to myself.
There were times when it was really hard and there were a lot of ups and downs. I questioned my purpose, especially when you’re injured and you’re unable to skateboard and you just have to sit around. But for some reason, I felt like skateboarding was something outside of myself. I just felt possessed to do it. Even at my lowest point, I was like I just can’t stop doing this. Even if I’m the worst skateboarder in the world and I make no money from this, I know that is what I should be doing. There was something inside myself that always told me that. I’ve just kind of listened to myself.
Andrea: I saw that you were a stunt double on “That’s So Raven” and “Hannah Montana”. Our girls just love these shows. What was that experience like and do you have any acting plans for the future?
Holly: It was awesome. I would love love LOVE to be on a show and do what they are doing. All the actors on both shows were so friendly, nice, and polite. Just really good people and it was so comfortable to be there. When I did “That’s So Raven”, there were two of us—a guy and myself. We were there for the whole week and when we had to do scenes everyone was so on and they really listened. It was such a fun experience. But at the end of the shoot on Friday, a guy was like, “Don’t you just wish you could come back on Monday?” and I was just like, “OMG that would be the best. I would love to do this every week.” The actors were all great and if I could ever be on a TV show, I would love to do it.
Andrea: Miley Cyrus was actually our cover girl for Dec/Jan.
Holly: Oh she was so sweet and her dad was on the show too and they were both totally nice. They thought I was so cool because I skateboarded. And Mitchell actually hung out with me the whole time and talked to me about skateboarding. He was absolutely the coolest kid and they were all so nice. They thought I was so amazing, but I thought they were the ones that were amazing. The fact that they can act and memorize all these lines everyday was so inspirational.
Andrea: If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who wanted to break out in snowboarding or skateboarding, what would it be?
Holly: Do it because you love it! You have to have that desire in your heart and passion in your soul. I think it’s important not to be fixated on being a professional skateboarder, but to do because it means so much to you. Make it personal, ya know? I know it’s cliché, but it’s so true to just believe in you. The little things in life that people get worked up about, those are the things that don’t matter, but what does matter is being a good person and being happy and spreading that happiness to other people. If you’re a positive person and do positive things, it spreads to other people and inspires them to be better people as well.
Andrea: Well thank you. Do you have any last words or anything you want to add?
Holly: Yea. I think no matter how old you are and no matter where you are in the world, whatever it is you want to do in life just follow your dreams. Really believe in yourself and don’t let other people peer pressure you to do anything you don’t want to do. Just really believe in yourself and know that you have a self. I think that’s really hard for girls, especially as teenagers, because you get so rapped up in your peer group and trying so hard to impress them. You try so hard to look good that you lose sight of yourself. Everyone should remember that they are their own person with their own soul that can make a difference in the world. Each person can make a positive difference in the world they just don’t know it. I think it’s really important for people to get to know themselves.