Under the Radar: Mary Pop Wheels

by Marta
Mary Pop Wheels

There are amazingly skilled skaters who fly under the radar – and quite often we wonder why they don’t have a wider audience? With this series we’d like to give space to talents who are enriching the skate world with their creativity. If you haven’t heard of Mary-Isabelle Laroche aka Mary Pop Wheels, it’s about time. She literally popped out of nowhere but has since been mesmerizing her followers on Instagram with her dance and park skating skills. Mary Pop Wheels’ life is literally all about roller skating: she told us why she quit her job and what’s behind her new association Project Wheels.

Hi Mary, tell us where you are from?

Hi, my Name is Mary-Isabelle Laroche aka Mary Popwheels. I’m a 24 year old girl. I was born in Belgium but lived for more than 10 years in France. Almost three years ago I came back to Belgium. I’m living in East Flanders of Belgium in Aalst to be precise. 

When did you start roller skating?

I started roller skating in September 2018, after seeing videos of Planet Roller Skate. I went to a sports outfitter next to my place and bought my first pair of roller skates.

Is roller skating your first love or do you roll on other wheels as well?

Roller skating is indeed my first love, because it’s the only sport I really did aside school sport classes. I never really had the chance to access a club or things like that. As a child I always wanted to, always asked my parents but it never happened. While growing up the super active child that I used to be kind of went to sleep. But it has always been inside me, roller skating woke me up, and I cannot say how grateful I am.

You are not only shredding parks but you also dance. Do you have a favorite style?

Yes indeed. That’s what I like about roller skating. There are so many disciplines in one sport. And not only that. They are very different form each other. At first glance, dancing and park skating have not much in common but you can do both. How amazing is that?! And for someone like me who gets bored pretty fast, it’s really satisfying. If I don’t go to the park I can dance. Plus, no matter what you do on your skates, it will help you for one or another discipline. My main focus is aggressive skating. But dancing is definitely a part of my skating. As I like to say: go with the flow!

Perfect soundtrack for a chill skate session?

OMG, so many, how to choose one. I always skate with music. People thought I was not social or something all the time. I had my music in the ear but actually I’m pretty shy when it comes to skating around other people. Music helps me to focus so that’s a hard question. But I will give you the choices: Proud of Me by Mahalia feat. Little Simz La belgique Afrique Romeo Elvis and Deep down by Zhavia.

Roller Skate lesson
Roller Skate lesson

What do you do if you are not skating?

Actually, I literally organized my life around roller skating. I live not far from the skate park, I have an awesome garage to practice flat. When I’m not skating, I like to do things that help me in my skate progression like the of basics tumbling, the basics of classic dance or just dance and work on my stretching. Roller skating has given me the energy to try everything I wanted to before but I was too scared of failure or just to learn such badass stuff. I dream to do flips one day. But apart from that, I share my life with my wonderful man Timon who is my everything. We literally do everything together. So, I spend a lot of time with growing our love. Does this sound cheesy? Haha, it’s fine, because we are cheesy. We live together with a happy family of two cats, one pogona and baby rats. We are both in love with animals. Also, music is a huge part of my life, always has been. In my middle school I studied music as specialty, I was singing a lot playing a bit of guitar but wasn’t really good at that one. It still happens sometimes that I long for a little jam or karaoke on my own and it’s always fun.

You also give skate lessons and are starting an association called Project Wheels. Tell us more about it.

I have been coaching roller skating since past September. First, I gave classes for beginners. It was really awesome to see all those roller skaters. Because when I started there was almost nobody roller skating here. Slowly, the idea evolved that I could help people in their journey. I began to give classes in Brussels at the Byrrrh skate park. It was amazing to see all these people joining because I did not expect that. More new people showed up and I saw a community being born. I remembered my journey as a beginner and how lonely and sometime helpless I felt.

I decided to go for what I’ve been fighting for. So, I quit my job – that was the biggest decision of my life. But in fact, roller skating became my life. I would love people to experience that too. Because I needed a tool I founded my association Project Wheels. I want to be able to organize roller discos, so we can dance, or make contests or just give classes. To do that you need to have a structure. We need a place where we can meet others and restore the joy and the fun in the world. Our biggest problem is that we think we are grown up and don’t do fun things anymore. But that is not true. I want to pass this message to the world: You can be responsible, you can be an adult and you can have fun. And roller skating is about fun and being responsible. Project Wheels wants to give back confidence to people.  

If you want to get in touch with Mary Pop Wheels you find her on Instagram. Make sure to give Project Wheels a follow, too.

Interview by Marta Popowska
Photos by Karlito “Katho” Mutodo & Rachel Syfer

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