Keyla Dennise: Puerto Rican ambassador
Where are you from?
I’m from a beautiful island called Puerto Rico where it’s summer all year long.
When did you start skating?
The first time I stepped on a skateboard was in 2010 and it’s been nonstop since.
What sort of skating did you do in the beginning?
I started cruising around on the board and in the beginning I only did tricks on the floor with my gloves.
What is your Island like for skating?
It’s beautiful and has lots of mountains and steep hills you can go fast on.
How is the community there?
The community over here is really big. Everybody has a longboard or a skateboard.
What’s your role in the community?
A lot of girls look up to me because I longboard pretty good and I’ve traveled to several places already to represent the island in the sport. I always skate with a bunch of local people.
How do you encourage other girls to get into the sport?
I always give them advice and pump them up to go have skate sessions and show them that since I can do it, they can also do it too if they never give up.
What good does skating do for you?
It makes me happy and keeps me healthy and exercised.
When did you start skating fast?
Last year I got bored of going slow and wanted to push my limits and see how fast I could go and conquer the fear of going fast.
How did you conquer the fear?
Step by step, going faster little by little and by falling a lot.
Do you compete?
Yes. My first downhill race was this January – the Guajataca downhill in PR. I started freeriding first and always competed in slide jams only.
Are there any other girls racing in PR?
Yes really good ones like Nayhomy Cruz from Quebradillas. She is really really fast!
What sort of sliding do you enjoy most?
I really love going fast and doing long standeez and toe sides and just doing lots of tricks like stalefish and indies.
What is Guajataca downhill?
Its the biggest longboard festival celebrated in PR. This year we had many people from all over the world come to it and it has gotten pretty famous and big.
Did you enjoy it?
Hell yeah! Got first place in the slide jam and in my downhill category. I met a lot of great skaters from all over the world, including lady shredders. It was really awesome to get the chance to skate with so many girls who I look up to.
What do you enjoy about competing?
The adrenaline of so many people watching you. I love the look on peoples faces when I do a trick and they get really stoked about it. Just doing what I love the most makes me really happy.
What’s your winning trick?
Toeside check and pretty fast stalefish.
Have you competed outside PR?
Yes sir I have competed in Dominican republic where lady Pam Diaz lives and also went to California recently.
What role has Pam played in your life?
A huge one! When I started longboarding, she was one of my inspirations and my dream was to meet her and skate with her. When I went to the Dominican to compete we met and became sisters! She is a really close friend of mine now and I also traveled with her to California in November.
How important is it to have women to look up to in the sport?
It’s the most important thing because you need someone to relate to and someone to inspire you from the same gender. It’s not the same with boys because every boy can skate but not every girl dares to skate. It’s really awesome to get inspired by a girl who can shred hard, that gets you pumped up and makes you wanna get better. Girls can do it too!
What can be done to get more girls to skate?
Give them a lot of safety gear, no girl wants to ruin her body with scrapes and scars. Also by showing them that we can also do the sport.
Which other women inspire you?
Amanda Powell was like the first girl video I ever saw and I think she’ the boss! Marisa Nuñez and Alicia Fillback.
How was skating in the Dominican Republic?
It was the best sk8 trip ever. I was in a van with a lot of good skaters like Byron Essert, Liam Morgan, Amanda Powell and Molly Lewis. We went to several steep hills with great views and awesome sunny weather.
What was skating in Cali like?
It was like Disneyland for skaters. All the awesome steep hills are there and the view is incredible. The longboarding community over there is really big and my favourite part of it was San Francisco. Everywhere I looked there was a steep hill I could bomb! It was like being in a dream.
What do ride?
My setup right now is a Comet grease hammer with Caliber precisions, Blood orange bushings and Volante wheels.
How long after you started skating did you get sponsored?
Last year was the first time I started getting stuff. I think I got my first box with a longboard in February.
Do you feel any pressure being such a young woman?
Yes I sometimes feel stressed and I pressure myself a lot because I want to get better so I can be fully sponsored.
Where would you like to take your skating career?
To the point where I can travel to wherever I want and skate beautiful places, go to all the awesome races and have many skate adventures and be part of the companies I love.
Do you have any advice for other girls out there who are worried about committing to skating?
Skate because you love it, don’t do it for the sponsors, do it for the love you have for the sport. Be patient like I am and try to get better and better every time you go out and skate. Do it to feel good about yourself and enjoy it.
It’s been really awesome talking to you sis, come skate with us in Madrid sometime!
I would love to go and skate over there and see the culture and explore everything.
Any thank yous?
Thanks to everybody that has supported me in the sport and encouraged me to never give up and to follow my dreams. Thanks to all the people that have showed me something about the sport.
Big thanks to Volante Wheels for hooking me up with wheels, Comet Skateboards for the boards. Ojoom for the pucks. And Caliber for the trucks!