Sunday, July 6, 2014


Alana Smith is shaking the skateboarding industry and sending the boys scurrying. "How does she make it all look so easy", they think, while slamming their boards on the ground with frustration. All I can say is "HELLZ YES!!" Can I get an AMEN? GROWSK8LIFE has not interviewed this little legend but I assure you she is at the top of our list. We really want to say thank you little mama, thank you for kicking butt and taking names. We are all  behind you, cheering for you, loving you, and learning from your perseverance.


For those of you wondering what all the fuss is about, let me clue you in. Ms. Alana Smith gained entrance into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the youngest athlete to win a medal in the X Games. What amazing trick did she do to win the Silver Medal in Barcelona? Oh, only a 540 McTwist. I remember being very young when I first saw Mike McGill, for whom the trick is named after, land the first ever McTwist.


At the young age of nine I knew something epic had happened. As much as I dislike the word epic, it's the only word that could explain how my heart jumped out of my chest when I saw it. Never before had my friends or I seen a skate trick of that caliber. Now, here comes little 12 year old Alana Smith, landing this complex trick in front of 100's of people at the X-games. To be fair, Lyn-Z Adams did perform the same feat, however, she is 12 years Alana's senior.

Just when we thought Alana had topped all records and broken all barriers, she does the near impossible again. Now at 13 years old, Alana was at the Woodward Tahoe Skate Camp with her Team Hoopla, for All Girls Skate Week. There she did one of the most legendary and worrisome tricks, first performed by Rob Boyce in 1997, the back-flip. Don't let the simple name fool you. A back-flip on a skateboard can be very dangerous and is not a trick often performed. The only way a layman can understand what it entails is to watch the video. Keep in mind that for every trick a skater lands, there are anywhere from 1-500 times that they bail first. With that I leave you the video and time to ponder.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014



I have never seen so many people come together for a good cause. The feeling of team work, love and support is something that is indescribable. I could just hug all of the beautiful people who made this event possible. The Meg Perry Center, the volunteers, the band and the fans, are the ones who made it so blasted fun and successful.

These are some of the people who made all of this possible. From left to right. I am not sure who the first guy is (sorry), Skummy Bob of Big Meat Hammer, Emily, Paul of Thee Icepicks.

Thanks to everyone's efforts we will be able to proceed with the GROWSK8LIFE summer tour. Tour info is on the website and it will be updated shortly.


Paul Simsky III for organizing all of the bands.

Brian Leonard for giving the motivation and a location to do all of this.

Bill Lee for his very generous donation and for just being who he is. Please support the Portland Food Co-Op as this would bring great joy to Bill.

Albert & Jenny Yasi for bringing all of that amazing food.

Nicholas Peddle for beings such an awesome door guy.

Selene Spivik for selling all those raffle tickets. 

Kiesha Green for helping wherever she was needed.


Big Meat Hammer

Thee Icepicks


Torn in Two


Cody of Hallowed Ground

Material Objects

Melody of DarkWorkz Art Boutique

Coast City Comics

Long's Board Shop

Little Ghost Vintage

Monday, May 19, 2014


GROWSK8LIFE and The Meg Perry Center have teamed up to throw the most unforgettable party/fundraiser. On June 8th Portland, Maine will be packed with people coming to celebrate the yearly Old Port Festival. This year the festival runs from June 6th-June8th. We will be at 36 Market Street, right in the heart of the Old Port, and next door to our local skate shop, ReSession. 

The days activities will start at 2pm and be filled with general debauchery and good times. The tentative music roster (almost 100% certainty) includes the crazy antics of Thee IcePicks, Big Meat Hammer and The Scummymen. Can you say punk rock? There will also be free food and drink, another raffle with killer prizes, and a screening of UNDEREXPOSED. Check it out on Facebook.


Most importantly, I would like to give a big old "THANK YOU" to The Meg Perry Center, who has made this all possible. They do amazing works in the community and help people like me bring our dreams to fruition.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

APRIL FOURNIER: GROWSK8LIFE's 1000th Fan and Roller Derby Girl Extrodinar

 GROWSK8LIFE has hit a milestone!! We reached our 1000th FaceBook fan! As those in our FaceBook family know, we are a very tight bunch and we're super stoked to welcome April Fournier to our group, as our official 1000th member. After interviewing April, I realized that not only does she play roller derby with my old league, she is actually an old co-worker. Quite awesome indeed. I encourage all to read this interview. April leads a very interesting life. She is a mother of four, a roller derby girl and she works with autistic children. She is one to be looked up to as positive member in our community, and a female athlete that pushes herself to the extremes.

GROW: Hi April. So happy to have you here. Couyld you start out by sharing with our fans what it's like to play roller derby with Maine Roller Derby (MRD)?  

APRIL: It's an incredible dream that I never realized I had until I started doing a class called Derby Lite in 2012.  The more I skated the more I loved how much it challenged my body and mind. Then there is such an incredible camaraderie between the gals, it's like I found 40 something new best friends.  I tried out this past fall and am currently on the R.I.P. Tides (the newbie team) and am hoping before the season is over to work hard enough to get called up to the Calamity Janes for a bout.  It's physically the hardest and most rewarding work I have other done (other than having kids)

GROW:Can you explain to our readers, who may not know, the basic concept of a Roller Derby Bout?  

APRIL:Oh man, it's an hour of hard hitting, fast action. The basic set up is 5 girls from each team are on the track at the start of a jam (think when basketball does tip-off, or hockey does the swatty thing with the pucks, except no ball or puck) and the whistle blows. There are two players (one from each team) who have a star on their helmet.  These are "jammers". Jammers are trying to do everything they can to push through the 8 people in front of them (the pack), skate around the track and get through the 8 people again.  The second lap, and every other time after, that they get through the pack the jammer gets a point for every opposing player she passes.  This continues for 2 minutes or until the first jammer through the pack (lead jammer) calls it off.  Of course everyone doesn't just let you through the pack, there are hips and shoulders and sternums and legs and wheels all in the way.  It's amazing and exciting to watch!  A bout is two 30 minute periods and a 15 minute half time. 

GROW:What position do you usually play?  

APRIL:I'm usually a blocker, but when my coaches are feeling a little out of the box, I might get the star to jam. 

GROW:What is your favorite Roller Derby move and can you explain it to our readers? 

APRIL:My favorite derby move would be the drag out hit. It's when the blocker (me) targets an opponent and skates into them, just slightly ahead and I take my leg closest to the opponent, step in front of then and lean them out of bounds. I have to use enough control to hit them out, get up on my toe-stops and stay in-bounds.  Then they have to come back into the track behind me and I took their position. 
April Fornier
GROW:Could you tell us a little but about working with autistic children and the challenges and rewards that it brings?  

APRIL:Puzzle pieces are the perfect analogy for these kiddos.  Every child with autism is different, has different behaviors, different compulsions, different family dynamics.  So it's important to keep that in mind each day when you're learning what works best for them.  It's incredible when a family has been able to see a positive change in their child from the work that we have done and it makes their lives just a little bit more connected.  The biggest challenge for me is that my own son also has autism and I face a lot of the same challenges that the families I serve do.  I think that some days it can be really hard on me emotionally, but others I feel like it gives me a really unique sense of what these parents are going through. 

GROW:How do you do all of this with four children? Are you super woman?  

APRIL:I must admit, I do not have a cape or a red and blue spandex body suit (yet).  I have an incredibly supportive husband who shares all of the ups and downs with me.  I learned perpetual positivity from my mom and find that being happy is just easier than being sad.  I also find that organizing my time and trying to remember that there must be a balance to life helps me not forget the fun stuff when we're doing the work stuff too.  Also my oldest is almost 13 so I make him help a lot. 

GROW:Do you know the main goal of GROWSKLIFE?  

APRIL:From what I was reading on the Facebook and blogs it looks like GROWSK8Life is supporting female skateboarders here and in developing countries by selling clothing and boards geared towards females! Which is AWESOME!  Gals helping gals, I love it. 

GROW: Let me explain. GROWSK8LIFE is actually a skateboarding company, strictly for the ladies. As I am sure you know, women have a tough time getting coverage in most extreme sports. We want to break that barrier. We also have a non-profit branch that is working to bring at-risk girls together with mentors. Any level of skateboarding is welcome. We will have instructors teaching everyone. The other part is community involvement. All girls will be supplied with the equipment they need, however, we will all be expected to do a community service project once a month. Right now I have been meeting with the Preble Teen Center to set up a presentation for the girls there. I want them to join us, and from what I hear they are quite excited to do so. 

The point of our demo tour this summer, is to increase awareness of female skateboarders, and to get girls more interested in joining us. Stay tuned for dates of the tour. I can tell you that we will be in Portland, Maine, on June 22nd, skating Baxter Blvd. We will have a full on skatepark set-up thanks to Rye Airfield in New Hampshire. We really hope to see some of the MRD girls there.

For more info on autism, please visit the websites below: 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

THE CROOKED GRIND: The woman behind the dream to bring an indoor skatepark to Portland, Maine

GROWSK8LIFE is super stoked to be sitting down with the women behind THE CROOKED GRIND. As a skater who lives in the back woods of Portland, Maine, I can tell you that winter is a dismal time for skaters (see Winter in Maine). Jamie Siraco,a fellow female in the Portland skate scene, is endeavoring to build a much needed indoor skatepark. The positive effect this could have on our community is beyond comprehension. Jamie's plans includes an afterschool
program, a girls skate night, leadership workshops and an overall positive influence on the youths in Portland.

GROW: Hey Jamie. How are you?

Jamie: Awesome!

G: Could you start by telling us what gave you the motivation to take on such a large and daunting task as building an indoor skatepark?

J: There’s so many layers to this question, and even to the answer. I don’t know where to begin. My true motivation in anything I do is my daughter. She is my priority always and I want to be a good role model for her. I want to show her that she is capable of anything because she is.
  I think providing positive role models to the youth is essential to creating and more importantly sustaining a positive future, and that idea transcends into this skatepark and more specifically into The Crooked Grind. Portland needs an indoor skatepark on so many levels, especially so that all the die hard skaters have a convenient place to skate during the winter. Anyone wanting to learn will have a place to go.
Female only skate nights will encourage girls and young women to learn to skate in a very welcoming atmosphere. I would like to see the more seasoned skaters, both male and female be kickass mentors for the next generation.
As far as it being daunting, I think its a matter of perspective. I don’t see this as daunting. Being in a job I hate with corporate chains around my wrists, listening to my verbally
abusive boss say the same thing over and over again, THAT
was daunting,this is inspiring,invigorating, exciting, rewarding. A lot of work? Yes. But anything worth doing usually takes a little effort.
 G: True dat. I couldn't have put it better myself. Could you tell us what your plans are for THE CROOKED GRIND? What sort of schedule and events you want to see happening?

J: The Crooked Grind will be a positive community center for youth and adults alike to share their love of skateboarding but also be a vortex of artistic energy. I want the park to be available to skate when people are available to skate. I can see Girls Skate Sessions, Family Skate Sessions, All sorts of Skate Jams and events. Movie previews, Music Festivals and Art Shows too. Heck we could do Weddings! But, Seriously, the possibilities are really limitless. I really want to partner with as many local businesses, organizations and schools as possible. My brain is really on overload in regards to events, but I am trying to stay focused.

G: What obstacles have you run into so far?

J: It's pretty simple. Right now I need to convince my investors that the Portland, Greater Portland and Maine community would support a venue like this. That's why it's so important to like our FaceBook page. It's an easy way to show your support. I also have run into many “i’ll believe it when I see it” looks, which I totally get. But that only
motivates me more.

G: Who have you been talking to for ideas and help?

J: I developed this idea when I took a class from Women, Work and Community. All the women I met thru that class have been amazingly helpful and supportive. Now that I have launched the The CROOKED GRIND facebook page, the idea is out there.GROWSK8LIFE, Longs Board Shop, and Resession all have my marketing material and have been supportive. Every single person I’ve spoken to has
responded positively to the idea of an Indoor Skatepark in Portland. From a 10 years old to 30 year, they want to skate in the winter.  Parents of skaters want to learn how to skate too.

G: What is your idea of the perfect outcome for your plans?

J: The slogan for The Crooked Grind: Skate. Create. Educate. That pretty much sums up my vision. An
indoor skatepark, an afterschool program and a artistic workshops. The workshops could be on a variety of topics like skateboard videography, photojournalism, or mural arts, just to throw some out there. The Crooked Grind will offer unique opportunities to the skateboarding community by
not only giving them a place to skate year round but providing them with outlet for all sorts of creative energy.

G: That sounds totally awesome. I love the idea of encouraging so many different forms of artistic expression. Skating is about so much more then just the sport. What do pros do when they retire? What does a skater do when her knees are shoot? They become filmers, editors, writers, photographers. There is so much out there in the skate world to get into. Please tell us, as skaters and community members, if there is anything we can do to help achieve this

J: Like The Crooked Grinds Facebook page. As I said, an easy click to show support. If peeps want to help out more, email or message us for flyers to give out at their school or in their town. I can totally send them some. In a month or so we will be having an Art Show fundraiser. We will be
posting more on our facebook page in regards to that, when the time comes. We will also be having a contest to design the actual skatepark. Again more details later, because there will be certain restrictions, like size etcetera. The Crooked Grind will be a positive community space. Who better to give input and help make it a reality then the community?
G: That is so true. It takes a village to build a skatepark. LOL! So Jamie, what have you learned so far?

J: One, that Portland needs this and that its going to be an uphill battle, but I’m totally down for it!

G: What do you feel you still need to learn?

J: I’m not really sure what I need to learn, until I learn it. I can say everyday I am learning new things with regard to this venture.

G: How long do you expect it to be before the park is actually open and running?

J: Ideally I would love it open by September of this year, yet realistically I’m thinking about a year.

GROW: Thank you so much for you time Jamie. Is there anything else you would like to add? We want you to know
that GROWSK8LIFE is behind you 100%. This can be done and it takes strong, motivated women like yourself to see it through. We hope to be there the day you cut the red tape!!

JAMIE: Thanks so much Nicole for your time and this interview, and I look forward to collaborating with
GROWSK8LIFE more in the future!

Friday, December 6, 2013


GROWSK8LIFE has many awesome fans and a large portion of them are doing amazing things. Allivia Lorusso was introduced to us by her proud Mother, Amy. We were particularly interested in Allivia's story because she is a fellow Mainer and has the unique perspective of sharing the difficulties of being a skater girl on a fairly rural area. When she was 14 years old she was featured on Shred It Girl's website, as an "IT GIRL." Since then her skills have grown and she brings some serious intellectual thoughts to the table. Please read on and find out more about this amazing 16 year old.
GROW: So nice to meet you Allivia. You know that your Mom is quite a big fan of yours. Family support is so important when a girl your age is trying to accomplish big things. Do you have anything you would like to say to your Mom?
Allivia: Hey Nicole, thanks so much for taking the time to interview me! I am aware that my mom is a big fan of my skating and I am so grateful for her support everyday. Without my parents I wouldn't be anywhere near the level I am at in my skating now.

G: Why don't you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you got into skateboarding?
A: I'm 16 years old and I live in southern Maine. I started skateboarding when I was 12 years old and to be honest, I can't picture myself doing anything else. My interest in skateboarding was sparked when I saw my cousin riding her longboard down our street. She lived with us at the time, so she was like my big sister and I wanted to do everything she did. So for my 10th birthday I got a skateboard. I didn't really give it much time for about two years, other than rolling around in the driveway and sitting on it. At the age of 12 was when my interest in skateboarding became much bigger. My little brother and his friends were going down to the tiny skatepark in our town, so I tagged along because I wanted to check out the ramps and try them out. As soon as I saw the little 3 foot halfpipe I knew I had to drop into it. My brothers friend was helping me learn how to drop in and I was absolutely determined to land it. I wouldn't leave the park until I dropped into the little ramp. Once I finally made it I knew right then that this was what I wanted to do. The feeling of conquering  that tiny halfpipe was unlike any other feeling in the world. Shortly after my trip to the tiny skatepark, me and my family took a trip to Rye Airfield skatepark, in NH. I was very intimidated walking into the giant 50,000 square foot building, but I knew this was what I wanted to do. After that first day at Rye Airfield I just never stopped going and my passion for skating grew stronger every day. 

G: How many times have you been to Woodward Camp? Did you get to meet some great skaters? How do you think that experience has improved your skating?
A: I have been to Camp Woodward 4 times now, in 3 years. Woodward is honestly one of the most amazing places in the world for anyone who is passionate about their sport. The staff there treat you like family and the whole entire camp always has a magical feel to it. Throughout the years I went to Woodward I have met quite a few great skateboarders and even more great people. As far as skateboarders go, I saw Lynz Adams Hawkins, Andy Macdonald, and skated Woodward's Mini ramp with the Enjoi team and Evan Smith. I also competed in a contest the Chris Cole judged. I met multiple Pro BMXers, great photographers, and just wonderful people all around. Camp Woodward has helped improve my skateboarding so much through the years I have gone. They give you opportunities to ride things there at camp that you probably couldn't ride anywhere else. For example Camp Woodward has a Mini Mega ramp and it is the only one in the world that is accessible to the campers to ride while at camp. I have had the opportunity to ride it all 4 times I went to Woodward and it is my favorite thing to ride while I'm there. I learned a lot of tricks at Woodward whenever I would go because they would always have contests. Me and my friends would practice all week for the contests learning new tricks along the way. It was in a Mini Vert contest at Woodward when I landed my first Backside Air over coping. 

G: You have a contest coming up at Rye Airfield this weekend. I heard you're the only girl competing, which unfortunately is way too common. Are you ready for the contest? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? 
A: Yes I have a bowl contest at Rye tomorrow and I'm pretty pumped! I've been taking it easy because I have a sore throat and want it to be okay for the contest (haha). Yes I am the only girl competing as far as I know, and we do need more girls to get into the sport. I would love to have some other girls to compete with around here on the east coast! I am very ready for the contest and just can't wait to skate it with all of my friends. I've got some tricks in mind I would like to try during the best trick jam, like FS Smith Reverts and Blunt Pivot Fakies.

G: Please share with our readers how you decided to develop your clothing line XX designs? My understanding is that the profits go to sending one girl a year to Woodward? Can I just tell you that GROW supports your efforts majorly, and we are so proud of you (stop blushing).
A: So with my XX clothing line I have just started to get the website going. Its not up for the public to see yet but we are working on it! I have to get in some orders of clothing and hats to have in stock before I can open up my website and get it rolling. Our ultimate goal would be to be able to send girls to action sports camps for free and to help girls gain confidence in their sport and in their life as well. And thanks so much for your support I REALLY appreciate it! It means a lot to me. 

G: So, about the elephant in the room..We are Northeastern girls and if you want to skate and be a girl at the same time, you face many challenges. First off, where do you skate in the winter? But more importantly, you spend a lot of time skating alone because girl skaters are just rare here. Believe me, I've been dealing with the same thing and that's why I started GROWSK8LIFE. We have to make all those girls out there aware of what is out there waiting for them. That is why I started the non-profit portion of GROW, so that we could find those girls, or create these girls, and get them skating. It has not been easy. I believe if Skateistan can find girls in Cambodia and Kabul to sk8, so can we. What are your feelings on this?
A: I agree that it can be a struggle for girls to get recognized here on the east coast and you do have to work hard to get your face out there in the industry. Although I actually saw my friend Nora Vasconcellos grow up skating here on the east coast and she is now one of the top Professional girl skaters in the world living out in Cali. She proved to me that it is most definitely possible for ANY girl, no matter where you live, to make it in the skateboarding world if you really want it bad enough. I skate Rye Airfield in the winter because it is the only indoor skatepark that is within a reasonable driving distance for me. I really believe that a lot of girls would fall in love with skateboarding if they gave it a try. Its something you can do to get away from the drama in school or any other problems you face. I think one of the biggest things that is holding girls back from venturing out and trying skateboarding is a lack of confidence because it is clearly a male dominated sport. Luckily I never really got any mean comments from boys or anything like that but in other areas it might happen to other girls learning to skate. We just have to teach girls and inspire them to be confident in everything they do and to be comfortable in their own skin knowing that they are perfect just the way they are. 
G: As far as competitions here, that include female divisions, I think that will only come with time and effort. If there aren't enough girls to make a division for them then why would they do it? People like us have to make it happen. That's what happened with vert in the X-Games, but what can you do? There are a lot of better contests out there then the X-Games. Female contests and divisions are being created every day. We are on an upslide, not a downslide, so take that to heart.
A: As far as girl contests go I think that you are right, we do need more girls to skate and compete so we can have girl divisions in contests. Amelia Brodka, a professional girl skateboarder in California, actually just put on her second successful contest for girls, called Exposure. It is a bowl and vert contest for AM's and Pro's. I plan on going to compete in this next November. It seems like a very fun contest to attend and it is growing the girls skate industry a lot.

G: What do you see in your future? A move to another State? College? More competing?Pro? You are young and can do it all.
A: In my future I see a move out to California in about 3-4 years. I want to be out there with all the girls skating daily and doing all the contests. I'd say my absolute dream and goal would be to be able to move to Cali and make a living from being a professional skateboarder and by going around giving motivational speeches to kids and helping them find a passion and teaching them to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. Becoming a professional skateboarder is what I want so that I can have the freedom to help and inspire young girls to get out and try new things- skateboarding especially!

G: We look forward to good things from you and if you need help please let us know. Good luck this weekend killer. 

A: Thanks so much for your support and hope to chat again soon!

Here are links for all the Sk8 Organizations mentioned:
Shred It Girl
Rye Airfield Skatepark
Woodword Skate Camp

Friday, November 8, 2013


ReSession Skate Shop is located on the heart of the Old Port in good 'ol Portland, Maine. Today I got the chance to have a chat with Phil Engle, who along with his partner Corey, of, will be taking over ownership of the much beloved skate shop.
Phil at work.

GROW: Hey Phil. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.

PHIL: Of course

G: I was excited to hear that you'll be running the show now, but before we get to the shop let's talk about you. 

P: Sure. What do you wanna know.

G: First off, how many years have you been skating?

P: 16 years

G: What's your favorite sk8 spot in Maine.

P: I liked the DIY spot we had the summer of 2012 before it got torn down in July.

G: Can you tell our fans a little more about it.

P: It was a kind of underground DIY built spot built by a few of local skaters. Everything was just made from cement, brick, sand, dirt, mortar. It was in the woods by outer Commercial street on the water.

G: What did they have to sk8.

P: All kinds of transition like quarter pipes and like hips and bumps and rails and ledges and boxes and banks. We were building stuff there like all the time, having a lot of fun, but the people who owned the land, it was the railroad company, tore it down one day. We never went back there.From then we just take it back to the streets, finding new stuff to skate everytime we go out. Sometimes we just sk8 in a parking lot.

G: What do you think of the sk8 scene in Maine right now?

P: I think it's becoming bigger and bigger. There's been more sk8 parks popping up. Portland got a sk8 park a few years ago,which defiantly helps right around here in the immediate area with new groups of kids getting into it. And as far as other places in Maine...there everywhere. There's a park in Augusta, Bath just go rebuilt and relocated. There's just tons of kids getting into it. A lot of kids are kinda going with the Longboards these days, which is because that's what they see their friends doing. 

G: Do you think ReSession and GROWSK8LIFE can work together to get more girls out here skating.
P: Yeah, we'd totally be happy to see more girls out there skating and staying occupied with something. It's a good hobby and it's healthy and productive to be out there doing. The more people in general skating, the better for everybody.

G: You see a lot of girls in Maine out there on the streets with kids or addicted to drugs.

P: And a lot of like the Teen Center people, like the younger kids, a lot of them are girls and come down here occasionally and they talk about how they want to get into skateboarding and if the means were available to them to do that then that would be great.

So this wraps up the first half of this interview. It was a long one kids. Resession will be haviing all new product for Christmas and if you want to support local shops then this is the place to go. Tell your parents that you DO NOT want skate gear from Zumeiz because Santas Elves have to work 60 hour days for a quarter there. SUPPORT LOCAL!! Stay tuned for more everything.

38 Market St.
Portland, Me