Pro skateboarder empowers other women while giving back to community

Pro skateboarder empowers other women while giving back to community
Amelia Brodka catches serious air at the 2017 Supergirl Skate Pro vert contest in Oceanside. At this year’s event, Brodka will be the emcee of “Curb Queens,” a street-style skateboarding competition for females only. Photo by Steinmetz for ASA Entertainment

OCEANSIDE — Professional skateboarder Amelia Brodka combines her daring athleticism with humanitarian aims in a style that’s all her own.

What continues to draw this 28-year-old Vista resident to skateboarding? “You’re constantly growing,” Brodka said. “With each day you skate, you present yourself with new challenges and obstacles. The goal is to progress as you overcome fear and push yourself out of the comfort zone.”

And progress she has: Brodka is one of the top female skateboarders in the world. She won the 2017 Vans Park Series European Continental Championships and finished third in the 2017 FIRS Vert World Championships held in Nanjing, China.

In addition to competing professionally in vert (ramp) and bowl events, Brodka founded a nonprofit organization in 2012 called EXPOSURE Skate that attempts to “open doors for young girls and women,” she said. The North County-based organization pairs community service with its free, female-only skateboard clinics.

For example, girls in the Skate Rising Program divide their time between learning skateboarding tricks at Encinitas Community Park and making items like support kits for the homeless or bracelets for victims of bullying.

As the Exposure Skate’s website explains, the combination of instilling confidence in female youth through skateboarding and compassion through service “allows each girl to recognize her ability to make a difference within herself, her community and beyond.”

Adult women can also take free skateboarding clinics through Exposure Skate in exchange for donating canned food that gets distributed to Community Resource Center. Brodka was pumped that a 76-year-old woman recently showed up to one of the clinics “ready to learn to skate,” Brodka said.

Since releasing a documentary she co-created in 2012 called “Underexposed” — which highlighted the lack of publicity given to female skateboarders in marketing and the media — Brodka has seen the women’s skateboard industry “blossom,” as she put it.

“Women’s skateboarding is kind of trending right now. If you had told me back in 2012 that the industry would look like this in 2018, I would have been in disbelief,” she said.

Brodka attributes the shift to what she called a “general change in our culture and awareness.” She elaborated, “There are more female protagonists and women’s superheroes in film as well as the #MeToo movement and an increase in female entrepreneurs. With this shift in consciousness happening right now, it’s an amazing time to be alive.”

Her nonprofit’s biggest annual event called Exposure — which will be held at Encinitas Community Park on Nov. 3 and 4 this year — raises funds to benefit survivors of domestic violence. It’s the largest all-women’s skateboarding event in the nation, with more than 160 female pros from around the world expected to compete. Last year’s crowd exceeded 5,000 people, according to Brodka.

Brodka immigrated from Poland to Linden, New Jersey, when she was 8 years old. Her father had won a visa through the lottery system. While working in the United States, he “saw the opportunities that were available here and decided to bring us, his family, over,” she explained.

Brodka went on to the University of Southern California, where she double majored in communications and narrative studies. While a student at USC, she would often drive from Los Angeles to North County, which she said was the skateboarder’s place to be.

When skateboarding becomes an Olympic event for the first time in 2020, Brodka intends to represent Poland should she qualify to compete. She lists Poland as her nation at other contests. Although she feels gratitude toward the U.S., she has “such a huge family in Poland and such strong roots there,” she explained.

Brodka will be the skateboard organizer and emcee for the Supergirl Skate Pro at the larger Paul Mitchell Supergirl Surf Pro event in Oceanside this weekend. Brodka normally competes in the event, but this year’s contest is a street one, a type of skateboarding that’s different from her vert and bowls expertise.

Supergirl Pro — featuring professional female surfers, skateboarders, gamers and more — and Exposure Skate share similar missions of empowering women and girls to compete in sports often associated, at least originally, with males.

During Saturday, July 28’s “Curb Queens” competition, female skateboarders will be judged on their technical use of rails, curbs and other obstacles installed on a flat surface as they skate their way through a course intended to replicate a street environment.

The Curb Queens event is a “pro am,” meaning some of the skateboarders are considered pros and others amateurs. Brodka expects about 20 or more competitors at the contest, which will be from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 28. On Sunday, July 29, there will be a free Exposure Skate clinic open to girls and women from noon to 3 p.m. Interested participants can check in at the Exposure event booth.

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