Terry Brown from Santa Cruz began skateboarding at age 5 and was encouraged to skateboard by her brothers, even though her parents were less enthusiastic. At age 14 pro skater John Hutson noticed her skating at Harbor and encouraged her to take up slalom. Terry excelled in slalom contests, but she also enjoyed skating bowl and pipe. Terry became sponsored by Santa Cruz skateboards, eventually going pro for the company in September 1976, and was noted to be Judi Oyama’s friend and former teammate.
Beyond contest results that showcase her skill, and the occasional photograph, there are few interviews of Terry. She did appear in a “Skateboard Safety News” interview with Oyama, written by Leslie Wolfstein in May 1978. “Tery [sic] and Judi are great friends, and almost always skate together. Judi has been riding the boards for 5 years and Teri about a year later… My brothers are skateboarders, so I naturally picked it up from them. They are good, so when I started six years ago I got some pretty expert instruction.”
When asked about her thoughts on girls in skateboarding, Terry said, “Girls should get together and form clubs. Some are better at certain types of skating than others and they can help each other along. And its more fun when a group of girls go to a skatepark together.” In regard to media coverage, she said, “In recent months there has been better coverage of girl skateboarders than in the past. Also, they should use more pictures of girls in advertisements. This encourages more girls to get into the sport and helps give those in it the desire to progress.” Her final remarks were, “I hope in the near future we will see more contests for girls… A girl who wants to start skateboarding may have to do quite a strong ‘selling’ job on her parents. Mine still don’t like me skateboarding, but in most cases this kind of opposition means the parents don’t know enough about the sport to make an intelligent decision…”
As well, Terry had a profile photo in the National Skateboard Review “Special Women’s Feature” in June 1978 at age 18, with a brief mention that she “would like to see more professional competition for women” and that she also enjoyed playing golf and body-surfing.
In October 1977 at the Catalina Classic, Terry made it to the finals against newcomer Deanna Calkins but it was reported that she unfortunately hit too many cones and was deducted for those errors. Calkins received significant press for her win. Brown then made a comeback at the Akron World Championships in Ohio against Calkins the following year.
In August of 1980, Terry was crowned champion at the Capitola Classic downhill race, which was reported on in the very first issue of Thrasher magazine in January 1981. Terry was described as “the top woman pro downhiller” after her performance.
This event was not Terry’s last race as she competed in 2002 under the name Terry Brown Benko in the Fat City Racing (FCR) series on the west coast. “I won nine out of 10 FCR races, qualified in open men’s twice and won the 2002 World Giant Slalom and Tight Slalom. I then coached the juniors for a season and then retired.”
Update September 10th, 2022. Terry wrote via Instagram:
“How nice to have these pictures and memories in one place! Who compiled this? Thank you! I have so many fond memories of skateboarding in the 70s and also later with my children in the early 2000s. One of my favorite memories is Mike Goldman driving us to Modesto to skate long hours in the hot sun and enjoying a cool Heineken or two on the way home. I am currently living in Morro Bay with my new puppy. A second grandchild is due in December. No longer skateboarding I still enjoy the beach so much. Thanks again for the post!”
Terry also shared that in 2002 she took up slalom racing, competing at the Fat City slaloms contests along with her daughter Keli Benko. She skated for Turner boards, but noted that “Technology changed in 25 years and we had to take the spacers out of our wheels and tighten the nuts to slow us down. I was able to qualify in a few men’s open races and it was fun to skate against men. We weren’t allowed to in the 70s. And the prize money was 1/10 of men’s back then. Anyways thanks so much for promoting women in skateboarding. The young girls coming up are so very talented, it’s fun to watch!”
Terry exuded a great attitude and a positive outlook, and based on her photos had a winning smile!
Photos: Gary Medeiros, Mike Smiley
- May 1976 – 1st place in Women’s Slalom at Cow Palace, San Francisco.
- November 1976 – 2nd place in Women’s Slalom at the California Free Former World Championships at Long Beach.
- September 1977 – 1st place in Women’s Slalom California Free Former World Championships at Long Beach Arena
- October 1977 – 2nd place in Women’s Dual Slalom at the Catalina Classic on Santa Catalina Island.
- June 1978 – 1st place in Women’s Slalom at the Akron World Championships.
- August 1980 – 1st place in Women’s Slalom at the Capitola Classic.
- Brown, Terese. Personal correspondence. September 2022.
- Caselli, Reg. “Downhill Racing.” Thrasher. Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1981, pp. 18-21.
- Wolfstein, Leslie. “Teri Brown and Judi Oyama: call to Santa Cruz.” Skateboard Safety News. May 1978.