Skating with the boys

Sanni Youboty

Photo By Tom Gascoyne

On a recent Sunday afternoon, there among the slashing, sliding, skidding and occasional scraping of skateboarders holding court at the Humboldt Skateboard Park was 19-year-old Philadelphia transplant Sanni Youboty. A Music Industry major at Chico State University, Youboty is also a cheerleader, a triple-jumper on the track team, guitar player and singer. She works for A.S. Presents as well as a Jewish student group called Hillel. She said she picked up skating last December and has been in Chico for about two years. Born in Liberia, she moved with her family to the states when she was 3. She said she finally received her U.S. citizenship only two weeks ago. Today, she said, she is the only member of her family living west of Texas.

Skating is kind of a West Coast thing, isn’t it?

No. You’d be surprised. Philly and New York City have become sort of skating Meccas and Skate Park America, one of the best parks in the country, is located in Ohio.

You’re the only female here.

I’m the only girl at a lot of places I go. You have to keep your guard up. If you fall you have to pick yourself up really fast and pretend like it didn’t hurt. My legs have all types of scars on them from skating. I’m not looking for acceptance. I just hope they respect me as a skater and are respectful when they are talking around me.

What do you think of Chico?

I don’t think I could live here my whole life. It’s nice but I don’t know. I got called a nigger over the weekend. This guy was just using his everyday speech. I said, “Hold on, hold on, hold on. Are you living in the 21st century?”

What was his reaction?

He said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” [Shrugs her shoulders.] I guess he didn’t mean anything by it.

When will you graduate?

I’m going to transfer next year to the city. Probably Los Angeles. If there is anything that scares me, it’s living in a small town.