Meet Kat Williams. Kat is a pro skater who has been on the scene for over a decade. She took up skate boarding when she moved to adelaide in her youth and has never looked back. We were lucky enough to be given an insight into Kat's world to see what makes this extreme sports star tick.
AYP: Kat when did you start skating and why?
KW: I started skating on the Holidays between grade 7 and 8. My brother skated and I idolized him so I always wanted to do anything he did. Then I moved to Mount Barker and they just built a brand new skate park so it all fell into place. I met some friends, started skating and there was no looking back.
AYP: How did you learn to skate and what was the first trick you learnt to
KW: It’s a mixture of things. Learning from friends, magazines, skate videos and mainly just hours and hours of trial and error. The first trick I remember learning was kickflips.
AYP: How did you feel when you landed it?
KW: It took me so long to learn and I was terrified of concrete so I learnt them on the grass first. The first time I landed one on concrete was the best feeling in the world. So many hours go into learning tricks so still to this day new tricks bring such a rush. I guess that’s why skateboarding is so addictive, I'm always searching for that feeling.
AYP: I remember growing up as a kid in the 90s and trying to skate like my older brother did. Back then people called me a tom boy because skating wasn't a conventionally female past-time. Did you receive any negative feedback for your skating due to your gender and if so how did you overcome that?
KW: I was always a Tom boy way before I started skateboarding so it was kinda natural... not many people questioned it. As a young shy female going to the skatepark - that was another story, it was so intimidating at times. I had some older men tell me I couldn’t do certain tricks because I was a girl which makes me so mad now because I listened at the time and it slowed down my progression a lot. I also had some incredible friends and great mentors building me up and teaching me about life. In time I got more confidence and just realized skateboarding was mine and no one can tell you you can or can’t do anything except yourself. That filters through to every aspect of life.
AYP: What was the skate boarding scene in Australia like when you first picked up a board and how did that compare to the scene in Australia now?
KW: I was young but the scene seemed amazing, everything was so new and exciting. There was a really good scene in Adelaide and people I grew up idolizing later because the homies. I don’t think you can compare the two... skateboarding has changed a lot. It used to be more of an art form, more pure. Now it’s more of a sport, more commercialized. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s just progression and popularity. I’m hyped I got to see both sides and appreciate them both for what they are. Skateboarding wasn’t that cool when I started, the community thought we were trouble makers. This new side of skateboarding makes it more credible... it gets more kids skateboarding and really that’s all that matters is that everyone gets the opportunity to skate if that's what they want to do.
AYP: Skate boarding has taken you around the world. Where is your favourite place to skate and has there ever been a moment that was so surreal that made you feel like pinching yourself?
KW: I would say China is my favourite country to skate. I love street skating, the food and the people. I’m constantly having surreal moments. I’m living my dreams traveling the world hanging with my friends. I’m truly blessed to be able to do that, it never gets old, I love it. I'll do it as long as I possibly can.
AYP: Is there somewhere you want to skate that you haven't yet (i.e. what's on your bucket list)?
KW: Barcelona is definitely on the list, everything looks so fun and amazing... Massive skate culture. I have grown up watching videos full of Barcelona footage. I will defently have to go experience it at some point.
AYP: Skate boarding will be part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. How do feel about that?
KW: I have mixed feelings but mainly I think it’s super positive. I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics. I think any human that can dedicate that much time and energy to anything is super inspirational. I think it’s opening skateboarding up to a new ordinance and it’s giving opportunities to a lot of people that wouldn’t have had that support. It has also done incredible things for women skateboarding. There has been a massive push in the last 12 months for equal prize money and opportunities. It feels like it has been received well instead of a negative the girls don’t deserve this or that... everyone seems hyped and love watching the incredible progression of all the ladies at the moment.
AYP: Have you hurt yourself whilst skate boarding and what was the most damage you did? Do you have any regrets with regards to that?
KW: Yes many times. I broke my arm about two years ago and had to get surgery and now have metal plates and screws in my arm. It was a horrible time physically and also mentally. Most of the time the pain is bearable but the efect it has on your mental health is way worse. Sometimes when your passion is taken away it's very hard to stay positive. It's all part of skateboarding and I think every injury and time is different, it's all part of the learning process. Now I look back and I'm glad that happened. I went through a lot from that injury but it was really important. I never regret anything, I make mistakes but I learn from them.
AYP: What has skate boarding taught you about yourself and life in general (if anything)?
KW: I have been skateboarding longer then I haven't. It's so part of me and my life I don't know any different. It has tought me everything I know. How to build friendships, how to work hard but also how to have fun. Some days I hate it, it drives me crazy and the next I love it more then anything else. Mainly it has tought me patience.
AYP: What do you do for fun when you're not skate boarding?
KW: I hang out with family and friends mostly. Watch movies, listen and play music. I love being outside going to the beach.
AYP: And finally... In a piece you wrote for 'Girls Skate Australia' you said "People ask me a lot how I'm so lucky how I get to travel so much...." with skating. You then go on to say it takes hard work amongst other things. If you're to give our readers any advice (especially young women) about chasing their goals what would it be?
KW: Firstly go for it 100%, the only way to fail is by not trying. Don't worry about what other people think of you. Not everyone gets lucky enough to find something they are passionate about so grab onto it and enjoy every moment. Surround yourself with good people that are going to inspire you and put everything you have into your goals. Sometimes the best things come from losses so always keep moving forwards.