Kendra Long’s interest in skateboarding was more of a fluke than a planned event.
Long was jealous of her younger brother receiving a skateboard, so she took it for herself. What happened after that will astound you! (Hint: This small town Texan now ranks 7th in Street Competition for the USA, and 30th in the world. At 15 years of age.)
Tell us how your interest in skateboarding began.
I got into skateboarding because my dad bought a skateboard for my younger brother and I got jealous, I was about eight years old. So I did what any big sister would do, and I took it! My dad thought that once I got hurt I wouldn’t want to skateboard. He took me to a skatepark so I could give it a try and to fall. I surprised everyone because I had great balance and didn’t fall hard enough to make me want to quit. It made me want it more.
Did you have any expectations when you first started to skateboard?
Skateboarding just happened for me. I never thought it would lead to traveling the world or giving me so much as an athlete. I’ve learned a lot the last two years. I wanted to skate because it was something that I couldn’t conquer. There is always another trick to learn or another spot to try.
What sort of competitions have you done?
The contests I usually go to are Olympic qualifiers and contests that are invite only. The biggest contest I went to was called “SLS Super Crown” and it was an Olympic qualifier tour on top of being one of the biggest competitions ever. The tour started in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There is no age limit and only the best of the best women around the world go to this contest. I toured stops from London to China to Los Angeles. I ended up placing tenth in LA.
What is one fun thing most people don’t know about you?
I don’t think I’ve ever told people my number one goal. I want to get a cross country and track scholarship. I started running when I started traveling and I found out two things. I am fast, and it relieves stress for me. When I get super frustrated skating, I run. When I have a hard day, I run. There are no rules, and I just run.
Why didn’t you qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics?
I didn’t qualify by one spot. Honestly, I was a little relieved but pretty sad because I was almost there! I wanted to do it before I got into high school. I was scheduled to leave for the last tour and hoping to do well and then COVID-19 hit and lockdown stopped everything. My sights are now set on Paris 2024. I will be 18 then and starting my senior year of high school. Keep in mind that making the national team in the US is tough! The US, Japan and Brazil are stacked with some of the best talent. I am the youngest in US Street competition and ranked #7, so I have a lot of time left in me.
What makes skateboarding so challenging and rewarding?
The culture of skateboarding is that the more dangerous, the better the reward! I love the sport because it is work, nothing is given. If I want to get better I have to be willing to fail over and over. The longer it takes to land a trick the better it feels when it finally happens. I love the feeling of landing a trick that I worked so hard on. It’s like fireworks go off, and it is amazing. Skateboarding has also made me a really tough person both mentally and physically. I fall, crash and smash onto concrete over and over again.
What has been your most challenging competition?
The most challenging place I have been to was China. The country and culture were so cool and the people were really kind. But the jet-lag was a killer and the course just wasn’t for me. It was the worst place I went to because I didn’t like the skate course, and I could never get used to the time difference. On the first day, I blacked out in the middle of doing an ollie (a jump performed by tapping the tail of the board on the ground) and got a concussion. And then, the day before the contest, I broke my thumb. So, the odds were never in my favor.
What would you say to other girls who want to do something as unique as you?
I would tell them to go for anything they want to do especially if it’s different. Try everything at least once. You never know what you’re good at if you don’t try. Who knew a girl from a tiny Texas town would travel the world carrying a skateboard? I will always be grateful for everything skateboarding has given me.
Cover photo courtesy Kendra Long
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.