This Is Me: Jenna Grassick

The manager of XtraVert tells us how they support the local skatboading scene 

Interview by Anna Langer

To me, action sports are an artistic form of release, and offer the freedom to be original, with no rules set in stone, pushing all the limits and being prepared for anything to happen as a result!

I first encountered skateboarding watching Christian Slater in Gleaming the Cube when I was about 12 years old. I always had a crush on him (still do) and when I saw him skate I was in love. A couple of years later my sister was dating a skater and he brought Ban This round for them to watch and I managed to join in. I was so inspired and just fell in love with skateboarding,

My career in boardsports came completely by chance! If you’re passionate about something you always dream that one day you could make your living from it but I started my career in finance and it wasn’t until I  moved to Cornwall that skating came back into my life. I then met my partner, had my little boy Levi, and stumbled across XtraVert, a social enterprise working with young people to help them into training using skating as a hook. I starting working as an assistant and within four months I was running the business and making some real positive changes to make it what it is today. The XtraVert team design and make wooden skate ramps and parks as well as delivering Carpentry Training Programmes. Getting to work with young people is fantastic,  especially when you know they have struggled to engage with school or training before, so to see them dropping in on our 3ft mini ramp by the end of the programme is awesome!

I am deeply ashamed to say I don’t ride the vert myself tho. I love skating and although I can just about hold my own, I am not ripping it in the park day in, day out. These days I’m focused on moving the sport forward and making a positive impact wherever I can.

The female skate scene is definitely moving forward and I love nothing more than to see a girl giving guys hell at the parks.  At XtraVert we run skate camps, and we encourage as many girls as possible to take part alongside the guys.  We are currently seeking our own team of riders and we’ll definitely be getting some talented female skaters on board.

Skating and surfing are massive parts of the culture of Cornwall and peoples’ attitudes here are slowly changing but I’m not sure if it is encouraged as much in the rest of the UK. Skating is still seen as something rebellious and perhaps that’s why young women aren’t encouraged to take it up. Hopefully we’ll start to see more girls swapping their scooters for boards and experiencing the real thing!

I always said I would marry a skater and I’ve as good as done that. I also wanted to be a volcanologist but couldn’t be doing with 10 years of studying –  but working in the skate industry would have come a close second,  so no complaints from me!

My goals now are to travel and experience the different skate scenes around the world. I would also really love to take what XtraVert does, and set it up everywhere, so young people who have had a troubled start have something positive to focus on, and help them build confidence and carve out a career. I would also love to see my son riding for XtraVert but as he’s not even 3 yet so I’ll have to be patient.

It’s an exciting time in skateboarding and it’s great to see what guys like Danny Keith from Santa Cruz are doing with not for profit organisations in the U.S. At XtraVert we’re keen to encourage the UK skate industry to get on board with programmes like ours and use skating to change young people’s lives.


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