Hadley Park. Lowell, Massachusetts. It is a freezing cold day. Andrea Delahunty hasn’t slept much. She just flew in on a red eye from LA with her chihuahua. She’s been skateboarding since she was 14 years old.
Her petite body dons a Thrasher sweatshirt and she shivers while I talk to her. She has taken a break from soaring back and forth on her skateboard on a cement half-pipe to talk to me.
While we talk, the sound of skateboard wheels colliding with cement echoes through the park.
I ask her about how she got started with skateboarding.
“I got stuck here one day on my birthday and I met all these guys. I got bored just sitting here and doing nothing, so I started skating too. I’m kind of tomboyish, so I fit right in.”
Manny Santiago and Dave Bachinksy are my best friends. “Manny just turned pro with Axion and AMMO. And Dave is on Think and BOX,” she says.
Andrea works a regular job as an interior designer. Before that she worked hospice care, but she skateboards any chance she gets.
“You meet so many people skateboarding. It’s such a solid community of people. It takes a while to get used to your board. Then you come up with different tricks and combinations. My first board was a Pioneer’s board that Dave Bachinksky’s uncle gave to me. Skating became a release for me. I worked a really stressful job in hospice care. Some days I would just come here in my scrubs and skate,” she laughs.
It’s really good exercise, she explains and a lot of her friends are making a living off of it now. “For me, it’s never been about making into a job. I wake up in the morning and go skate, go to the gym, go to work and then go skate again. I work at kids skate-camp during the summers. I love working at camp. I have so much fun with the kids,” she says.
On this day, she has just come from Boardwalk skateshop in Woburn. She explains how she bumped into one of her kids from her skate-camp. ”You meet people you wouldn’t meet anywhere else. Skaters like to travel and I literally have met people from around the world,” says Andrea.
Andrea recalls the highlight of her life as a skater as she quickly says “hello” to an engineer-type with his board who passes by. “It was at Dew Tour this year with Manny and Dave. It was a blast. We were at this beautiful hotel. It was exactly how you would picture Vegas, almost from out of a movie. I saw all these pro-skaters I grew up admiring. I looked around and I realized, if you follow your dreams– they do come true.”
It was around the same time that Andrea got Manny’s pro-model board.
I ask her if it is difficult to compete as a female in skateboarding competitions.
“You have better luck skating in a male competition,” she explains. You’d probably win more in last place than in first place in a female competition. It’s definitely more difficult. If you’re a girl and you skate, you definitely have to prove yourself. Sometimes the guys will go skate “street” and I’ll practice by myself. Manny is the one who pushes me the most. For instance, the other day we were at the skate park and he said “I’ll do a hundred heel flips if you do one”.
Andrea cites Vanessa Torres and Elissa Steamer as examples of inspiring female, pro-skaters.
When asked if skating is a tough work out, she described how her legs and abs ache after skating. ”It’s an amazing work out, she says. Everything hurts at the end of the day.”
Andrea also found another passion a few years ago. She discovered Golden Gloves Boxing after getting sick of running on the treadmill. “I like extreme physical activity, she explains. I wanted something that would keep me in shape that was fun, so I walked into Arthur Ramalho’s gym.
My trainer, Jack O’Neill, couldn’t believe I walked in by myself, but I started going every single day,” she recalls. Arthur Ramalho’s gym was featured in the 2010 film “The Fighter.”
Andrea explains that sparring in boxing is a lot like skateboarding. It just so happens that the sports she loves have a lot of males around, even though she describe herself as a “girly-girl.”
Skateboarders and stigmas?
“A honestly think a lot of people think skateboarders are punks” Andrea explains. I would definitely say that most of my friends aren’t really into partying. They’re more into skating, trying to go “pro,” traveling, becoming film-makers, photographers, company reps or working at skate-shops and skate-camps, etc. Some people can’t believe that I can skate but for me it’s not a big deal because I grew up around it and most of my friends skate.
As everyone is getting ready to pack up and leave, I get a chance to chat with Dave Bachinksy who’s about to embark on a cross-country trip, scouting out competitions. “Going pro is a working process, he explains.” “First, you have get into a shop that will sponsor you, then you go “flow” for a company rep (sponsored skater receives a small amount of products on a regular basis), then you go “am” (amateur) for a company (skaters receive some promotion, products and promotion incentives), then you go “pro” for a company” (skater receives a paycheck, a “pro model” with their name on, funds to go to contests, and royalties for products sold with their names on them.)
How do skaters support themselves in the meantime?
Side projects, couch-surfing. Skateboarders help each other out, Dave explains.
Dave talks about the process of filling in all the cracks at Hadley Park with car bondo every year for the last 12 years. He also shovels snow out in the winter. “It’s completely amazing that the community built this park,” he says. “It just needs up-keep.”
I ask Dave what advice he has for kids who are starting out.
Anybody can skate, it just really depends on what you’re doing it for. But come and shred, borrow people’s boards, get to know people, get hand-me-downs while you’re doing your paper job or whatever.
“This place is helped so many skaters through the years, day in and day out,” Dave explains. It’s crazy to see this new generation. It’s rad.”
You can now purchase Manny Santiago’s line of professional skateboards by AMMO at PER$ONA at 51 Market Street-Downtown Lowell.