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Tara Tate: Cheating Death And Embodying What It Means To Be A #GirlBoss

The first thing that caught my eye on Tara Tate’s social pages weren’t all the amazing action sports and adventure photos, but rather, a job title that read “#GirlBoss at Arbor Skateboards & Snowboards”. This new term “GirlBoss” instantly fascinated me – where did it come from and what did it mean!?

After a quick Google search, it all made sense. Originally deriving from a book entitled #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso, #GirlBoss has evolved from the simple idea of being the boss of your own life, to becoming an online platform wherein women can inspire women through storytelling. Last month, Tara Tate embodied just what it meant to be a #GirlBoss by recounting her story of cheating death on Girl Is NOT A 4 Letter Word. Upon reading the story, the whole crew at Skate[Slate] was inspired and knew we needed to sit down and chat more with this rad, resilient human being.

Hey Tara! What’s your story? How’d you get into this crazy thing we love called downhill skateboarding?
I started snowboarding maybe 8 years ago, then started skateboarding not long after. I got into skateboarding more aggressively/regularly about 2 years ago. I started downhill skateboarding while I was working for Arbor Santa Barbara so that I would know what I was talking about when I was selling skateboards, and I never looked back.

How did you find the transition between board sports? There are certainly lots of transferable skills, but also tons of differences.
I found that while the balance between snowboarding and skateboarding is similar, the balance between snowboarding and DOWNHILL skateboarding is incredibly similar. I was hooked almost immediately. Even my first highside couldn’t stop me.

For those who haven’t read the full  Girl Is NOT A 4 Letter Word article, tell us a little about your experience cheating death.
I never thought I would be cheating death that day. I just wanted to go skateboarding and have fun. I was doing that, up until I fell around a corner, slid into the oncoming lane, and under a truck whose driver had the sun in his eyes. I don’t remember any of it. My memory is very patchy as I was admitted into the ICU. I remember being angry with the doctors for cutting my hair as they needed examine my left ear. I remember telling the man who ran me over that I believed – and still believe – that it was truly an accident as he cried at my bedside. I remember being very sassy and flirting with my nurses, and even asking one of them out! Even if I was close to death, I never left who I truly was. I still loved skateboarding, snowboarding, my job, and the people that matter most in my life. The most sobering parts of the experience for me were when I went back up the road for the first time since the brick and saw that the CHP had outlined my body and when I thought of Patrick Welsh – who I was skating with that day. I felt very bad for a while for putting Patrick through that experience, but he’s a tough kid and he really proved it through all this.

Tara ripping and gripping a right on her local Santa Barbara hills! Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Tara ripping and gripping a right on her local Santa Barbara hills! Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Although this was a defining moment in my life, I don’t want it to define me…but if I can inspire people with my story, then I don’t mind at all to turn this negative experience into a positive one.

When the reality sets in of what could have been. Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

When the reality sets in of what could have been. Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Closure. Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Closure. Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Has your relationship with longboarding changed since the incident?
No, not really. I would say it’s more spiritual. Skateboarding may break my bones, but it will never break my heart.

I find the act of falling and getting up transcends so much more than just skateboarding. Have you always had this get up and try again mentality or is it something that you’ve developed through action sports?
I don’t think so. I think I just love skateboarding and snowboarding so much that I could never give it up. It honestly actually pains me to think about giving up either sport. I may very well die doing what I love, but I will die with a smile on my face.

As someone who is still in the early stages of progressing and pushing the limits of their downhill ability, what would you say to other newcomers entering downhill?
WEAR A FULL FACE. Helmets, in general, are cool. I really want to thank XS Helmets for making such a quality product and for standing behind me through everything. If I wasn’t wearing a full face that day, I would not have a face today. I fully stand for XS and Predator Helmets.

You never know when a helmet could save your life.

You never know when a helmet could save your life.

Staying properly protected across all board sports is key when you're pushing your limits! Photo: Traci Frumkin

Staying properly protected across all board sports is key when you’re pushing your limits! Photo: Traci Frumkin

I complete agree and want to emphasize – helmets save lives! I also think that while accidents happen, skills can help, and more freerides are something I’d love to see in North America for the sake of safe progression.
Totally! I would love to go to Maryhill (hopefully a Sheride of some kind) and I was just contacted about possibly doing a freeride in Southern California with Arbor Girls. I am really interested in being involved in more skate events to encourage girls to pursue skateboarding and support women’s skateboarding.

YES! A freeride in Southern California would be SO rad!

Can you tell me more about how you got connected with Arbor Girls?
I was working for Arbor Santa Barbara for a little over a year when I was asked to start contributing to Arbor Girls’ social media. I was contributing to @arborgirls for a couple months when I got hurt. When I got hurt, I remember that once I had my wits about me and was able to log on to social media, I was really worried that I was going to get fired for not posting on @arborgirls for the week that I was down. I had nothing to worry about, but Arbor definitely recognized my passion and a few months after I was released from the hospital I was promoted to lead the Women’s side of the Arbor Collective brand. I love my job so much and am very thankful each day that my colleagues at Arbor believe in me to lead Arbor Women’s.

That’s an awesome opportunity. I feel as content creators and curators, we have the ability to influence how certain demographics perceive women in action sports. That being said, how do you decide what type of content is shown through @arborgirls?
Arbor Girls is truly cross-category for the Arbor Collective, meaning that we encompass Snow, Skate, Downhill, Apparel, and Lifestyle. Content variation is key – varying posts each day so that our content appeals to a wide range of people. I want to make our content relatable – it’s for real girls, by real girls – so I’d like our content to reflect that genuineness.

Riding closely through dusk with fellow Arbor teammate Alicia Fillback. Photo: Carmen Shafer

Riding closely through dusk with fellow Arbor teammate Alicia Fillback. Photo: Carmen Shafer

Tara hitting the classic one way in Southern California. Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Tara hitting the classic one way in Southern California. Photo: Tom Flinchbaugh

Any specific initiatives you’re working on with brands for women? If not, what would you like to see in the future for women in action sports?
I don’t want to say too much as far as what I’m working on…but I am interested in more women’s events, encouraging girls to get out and follow their passions, appealing to girls with Arbor apparel and accessories, and getting more girls involved and interested in the action sports lifestyle that way.

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What’s next for you?
Arbor Girls things! It seems as if I’ll be moving to Venice within the next few months, so I plan on working more in the office at Arbor, refining the Women’s side of the collective. A downhill skateboarding documentary, Wheels Over Paradise, premiered in Santa Barbara here in February at the Film Festival. The film is about skateboarding in Santa Barbara – the ups, downs, high fives, and highsides. I look forward to having a post-premier skate sesh with the guys to celebrate! Keep you’re eyes out for it!

Lightning round!

Favorite color: Green
Favorite food: PIZZA
Favorite place: Santa Barbara
Favorite set-up: Arbor Cypher Mini with Sucrose Bogarts
Favorite skater(s): Nora Vasconcellos, Josh Stafford

Awesome! Thanks again for taking the time to sit down and chat. Do you have any last words or shoutouts to make?
Thank you! Thanks to Skate[Slate] for the opportunity! Thanks so much to my crew, Santa Gnarbara, who are my brothers through it all. Thanks to Arbor, XS Helmets, Pizzanista, Kim Woozy at Mahfia, and of course, Cindy Whitehead at Girl Is NOT A 4 Letter Word.

Although this was a defining moment in my life, I don’t want it to define me…but if I can inspire people with my story, then I don’t mind at all to turn this negative experience into a positive one. Stay true to your passions and your dreams, because in the worst of times, they’ll be the most loyal reason for you to wake up each day.

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