Yvonne Cucci (Summerfield) was originally a mystery until this post was shared on social media and we connected for an interview on Friday, September 2nd, 2022.
Yvonne grew up in Torrance, California and played many sports such as flag football, softball and soccer as a kid. She was active and loved being outside. The best part about skateboarding was that it “was a sport I could do anytime without relying on other people – just me and my board.” Yvonne would read skateboarding magazines, practised daily and was fortunate to live only a block away from the Vans store on Torrance Boulevard and Crenshaw. “They posted a sign for try outs to be on the team and my mom took myself and a few kids in the neighbourhood to tryouts and I was the only one to make the team.”
The Vans sponsorship was “really fun as they paid for all the gear, boards, shoes, and every Saturday we were treated to McDonalds after practice.” Yvonne also remembered the fun that was had skating “the Vans half pipe exhibition at Knots Berry Farm and Magic Mountain amusement parks. We were little Vans celebrities – signing autographs – too fun!”
As a youth, Yvonne appeared in the contest results of the First Annual Invitational California State Amateur Championships in July 1978 featured in the National Skateboard Review, riding for Vans. In the Girls “13 and Over” category she placed 2nd in Pipe Riding and 3rd in Bowl Riding at age 15.
A year later, in July 1979 Yvonne was back in the mix at the Oceanside Freestyle contest, this time taking the win for Sponsored Girls 16-18 in an event that was attended by thousands of spectators. Yvonne then competed in bowl at the “All American Amateur” event at Marina Del Rey in the upper keyhole sponsored by Vans. She placed third for the Girls 17-over behind her teammate Elaine Poirier and Denise Danielson.
Skateboarding contests were motivation for Yvonne. “I was always competitive as a kid and still am today at the age of 60. Skateboard competing taught me discipline and focus, and how to commit to whatever you want to be good at. Dropping straight down into a pool or bowl teaches you to commit to your decision and not waiver.”
Yvonne preferred skating freestyle and skateparks, in particular the local Torrance skatepark. Yvonne was fortunate to skate with Deanna Calkins who was a few years older, a sponsored pro and very cool! As well, Yvonne got to skate her neighbor’s pool. “My mom wrote me a note that said we had health insurance so if I got hurt the homeowner would not be liable. I did wear complete gear and never broke anything thankfully.” Yvonne’s mom was very supportive! She “would drive myself and the neighborhood kids to the skateboard park in our blue pinto station wagon all stuffed in our car. Wish I saved some photos of that era.”
Photos of Yvonne skateboarding in the ‘Super Bowl’ were taken by photographer Al Moote for the 1979 manual Advanced Skateboarding by LaVada Weir. Yvonne had met the author at the Torrance skatepark, as she lived in Rollings Hills, the next city over. While learning a new trick, before taking it to a bank or bowl, Yvonne was quoted in LaVada’s book saying that she would practise in her driveway at home. “It takes a lot of practice—every day… if you want to be good.”
By the 1980s, Yvonne headed off to college after graduating high school in 1981. “I snow skied in college and did not take up golf until I was 40. Golf is my main sport now – same concept as skateboarding with the focus and you can practise with yourself anytime. The terrain of a golf course reminds me of skateboarding especially when I ride the golf board to each hole.” Yvonne is currently in real estate focusing her efforts on the Florida and Hawaii markets.
Yvonne concluded that, “I am grateful to be given the opportunity to learn the sport when I was so young as I think it taught me a lot about myself and that I can be successful and gracious with anything I put my mind to.”
Thank you, Yvonne for sharing!
- Weir, LaVada. Advanced skateboarding a complete guide to skatepark riding and other tips for the better skateboarder (1979).