Saecha Clarke

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Saecha Clarke proved to be the leading female street skater, among a small but elite crew. She holds many firsts for women including board-sliding handrails and stomping 360 flips. She grew up in Huntington Beach, CA and the local High School was a destination skateboarding spot, so she would skate there with whoever was hanging out.

Saecha started skateboarding in the 6th Grade around 1986 or 1987. She was inspired by Mark Gonzales who “has always been my favorite skateboarder so it was definitely a trip meeting him and getting the opportunity to hang out and skate with him” (Bradley).

In an interview for NBD_Archive, Saecha shared a funny story about how she first started receiving skateboards:

“I first started getting boards from John Lucero. I don’t think I was sponsored really but just getting flowed decks from him. It’s a funny story how I met Lucero. Around the same time when I first started skateboarding I was also on a cheerleading team. We had to go door to door and sell chocolate bars in our cheerleading uniforms. I didn’t want to walk around from door to door so I skated and ended up knocking on Lucero’s door. He asked if I was the girl always skating the dirt bank up the street and he said I was pretty good and gave me a board. I remember being so psyched to meet him and get a free board. I had skate ads of Lucero on my walls and had heard he lived in Huntington but had no idea he lived right down the street from me. I didn’t expect to knock on his door.”

Saecha also noted that, “The first photo I ever got in a skate magazine was an ollie grind to tail on a small ledge outside the Long Beach Convention Center. It was taken during a trade show by Dan Sturt for Poweredge Magazine. I love the Think Crime board graphic I was riding at that time, it was such a cool graphic from World” (Bradley).

The ad appeared in 1989 and a year later Saecha became officially sponsored by World Industries at age 15 because, “I was at a contest in Long Beach and my friend Christy [Jordahl] and Jason who rode for Steve Rocco were telling me I should ride for World and that Steve wanted me on the team” (Araujo). She also became sponsored by SMA (Santa Monica Airlines), Venture Trucks, Vans, and Bread & Butter.

Saecha was first interviewed for the ‘zine Equal Time (Volume 2, No. 1) in 1990, edited by Lynn Kramer. A 15-year-old Saecha shared that she would take her brother’s skateboard to do kick-turns on a dirt jump (she emphasized dirt!) that some boys were skating in front of her house. She liked to skate at night when she had the most energy and was adamant that “skating is just skating. It’s not a boy-girl thing. It doesn’t matter.”

Photos and ads from her sponsors appeared in mainstream skate mags like:

  • PowerEdge Magazine June 1989 doing an ollie-to-grind-to-tail.
  • Transworld Skateboarding March 1991 boardsliding a handrail in San Diego for Tony Hawk’s column called “Beyond.”
  • Thrasher March 1991 doing a boardslide for Venture
  • Thrasher December 1992 popping an ollie
  • Skateboarding: the ultimate guide to tricks, ramps, gear, setting up – and letting go! (1994 by Kevin Wilkins) with a backside 50-50

Clarke also appeared in a video called Sk8Hers (1992) written and directed by Ethan Fox, which included skate legends Diane Desiderio and Cara-Beth Burnside. She has flip tricks, grinds, big spins, varial flips, and loads of style on those parking barriers, which must have been mind-blowing for the early 90s.

The director, Ethan Fox also took some stills of Saecha skating street while filming her part in 1991:

“Back then, there were girls that freestyled and skated vert, but there weren’t many girls who skated street. I only knew two girls that skated street, Christy [Jordahl] and Anita Tessensohn. I think Anita was pretty much the first girl street skateboarder. Anita rode for Powell Peralta.” The two skaters competed against each other in April 1989 in Tempe, Arizona as reported in Vol. 1, No. 3 of Equal Time zine. Kramer wrote, “Saecha pulled a stale fish launch, ollie kickflips, and ramp to wall rides,” but it was Anita who pulled off the win.

Regarding her first handrail, “I think I was sixteen at the time. I started doing contest handrails then, eventually I learned how to do it on a real handrail. It was definitely an accomplishment for me.”

Occasionally she got a hard time from her teammates, although Ron Chatman from World redeemed himself when he decided to share his real opinion, which was complimentary. To Liza, Saecha did recall one frustrating experience. “When I was skating at Huntington High one night this kid rolled up next to me and he had his board marked up with a paint pen that read ‘girls should be on beds, not boards.’ It pissed me off, but I just laughed at him and didn’t really let it get to me too much.”

Saecha was part of all the contests and demos being hosted by California Amateur Skateboarding League (C.A.S.L.) and even though there were no big cash prizes, she noted that spots were less of a bust with fewer people around. She was also skateboarding against the guys, and had no problem with it according to her Equal Time interview.

Here’s some more great footage from 1990, courtesy of NBD Archive!

While a broken ankle and knee injury sustained during a boardslide caused her a lot of frustration and pain, preventing her progress, Saecha stayed involved with the skate community. She worked at Marge’s skate shop, and in the sales department at Sole Technology while going to college. Her focus was fashion design, which then led to an opportunity working for Emerica.

When the interview with Araujo was conducted in 2005, Saecha noted that, “there are a lot more girls involved with the sport and I think that’s something that has gotten better… Skateboarding gave me a lot of things, I’d have to sum it up with happiness.”

Photos: George Medlock, Dan Sturt


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