Nica Parks is from the Big Island of Hawaii. She started roller skating in 2016 after getting a pair of skates for Christmas that was supposed to be used to help her take her dog for runs. Fun fact: it never happened. But after Nica’s first trip to the skate park in town, she was hooked! As to many the CIB Crew rider might still be a well kept Hawaii secret, we thought it was time for an “Under the Radar” interview.
Nica, you live in Hawaii, a place many people dream to visit. How much of a paradise is it for roller skaters?
In my opinion, Hawaii is a paradise for roller skaters. The community on wheels is extremely welcoming and friendly, everyone is supportive and respectful of each other. Some of my best lines and trick suggestions are from non-roller skaters! When I first started skating, there were almost no roller skaters at the parks, so I’m extremely thankful for living in such a supportive community. I was always given the space and encouragement to keep going even though I was doing a weird thing none of them had ever seen before and I’m sure I looked pretty kooky in my Barbie knee pads and $50 Sports Authority skates with hard plastic toe stops.
The weather in Hawaii is pretty favorable for year-round skating, aside from several rainstorms every year. And, since surfing and skating are pretty popular activities that are almost integral to the culture here in Hawaii, there are a decent amount of skateparks and DIY spots to shred.
What do you miss as a roller skater on the island?
There are a few downsides to living in Hawaii though. For example, there are no roller skate dedicated shops. There are a few in the works, but until they open, everything needs to be ordered online and sizing for boots is done by trying on a friend’s skates or making an educated guess. And paying for shipping, geez, don’t get me started on that…Also, it’s not as easy for us to go on skate trips. In order to get to a neighbor island or the mainland, we need to get on a plane.
Tell us a bit more about the roller skate scene in Hawaii?
In Hawaii, we have the BEWB crew which stands for “bitchin’ eight wheeled babe” and was birthed into this world in 2016 by some rad skaters on Maui, namely Sassin and Frankie. Its goal is to unite skaters from all the Hawaiian islands and provide a place for them to keep up with their outer island counterparts as well as show the world what Hawaii skaters have to offer. This worked well when there were only a few park skaters spread out across the islands… But back in March 2020, the Covid pandemic brought a screeching halt to team sports in Hawaii, encouraging residents to instead focus on solo sports that allow for physical distancing such as surfing and skating. That spark ignited the skate scene in Hawaii, leading to a rapid growth in roller skating across the islands. Currently, I’d estimate there’s about 50 park roller skaters (and always growing) in Hawaii. So, we now have a CIB Oahu and CIB Maui chapter. It’s so awesome to see so many roller skaters out there!
What’s the best skate trip you ever been to and where would you love to visit?
The best skate trip I’ve ever been on was to San Diego, California at the beginning of 2020. There are just so many amazing skateparks and inspiring people there. On that trip, I was lucky enough to meet Jim Alesi and George Medina, both of whom are great photographers. And I was just so tickled to once again be able to skate with Havoc, Miss O, and Kiana, all of whom are inspiring skaters that push me to try new things. I would love to visit Australia. I keep hearing great things about the people, country, and bowls!
Do you have a favorite or preferred style?
Skateparks and bowls are my favorite things to skate! I love the exercise of putting a line together at a new park or bowl. But I also enjoy skating ramps because the rhythmic back and forth is very meditative and they’re great for workshopping new tricks.
What’s the best thing about having wheels under your shoes?
It’s hard for me to put into words what the best thing about having wheels under your shoes is… This sport imposes a series of never-ending challenges which in turn leads to a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and deeper trust in yourself. The falls teach you to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously and the injuries remind you of how incredible your body is at healing. But perhaps, the best part is the sense of freedom and limitless creativity that roller skates impart. Every park or bowl is like a blank canvas, ready for you to paint your lines on it and defy the laws of gravity and logical possibility. Or, it could just be that I enjoy laughing maniacally while feeling like I just cheated death.
Favorite tricks you go for everywhere you show up?
At the moment, I’m pretty obsessed with putting my toe stops on everything. I love the precision that it requires and the way you can stretch your body with it to make interesting lines. There’s also something extremely satisfying about feeling and hearing a yummy, crunchy grind as you carve around a bowl, so I try to get those in everywhere I go to.
What do you do if you are not skating?
When I’m not skating, I enjoy exploring the world around me by looking for waterfalls, hiking to new spots, playing with ocean creatures, foraging for food, stuff like that. I also enjoy surfing and occasionally, I moonlight as an engineer.
Tell us your perfect soundtrack for chill skate session?
These days, I don’t listen to any music while I skate. I enjoy the crunchy sound of trucks grinding across pool coping, the smooth, methodical back and forth of wheels rolling on concrete, and the distinctive click of a solid landing when skates hit the coping just right. My absolute favorite sounds to hear are that of friends laughing and heckling each other.
One thing everyone should know about Hawaii?
I think everyone should know that Hawaii is a deeply spiritual place with a unique culture and should be respected as such. I would recommend that visitors take the time to look past the flower leis and sandy beaches to listen. From the unification of the islands under King Kamehameha to the building of a sugar and pineapple plantation empires to the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom to the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, there’s a lot of depth and history behind the local people who live here and the beautiful scenery you enjoy.