Growing up in the surf town of Huntington Beach, Calif., Lauren Perkins was anything but your typical 5-year-old. In fact, she was already developing her thrill for danger by taking her first spins on a motorcycle, as well embarking on her dad's skateboard for the very first time.
"I was always a tomboy and doing crazy things like that," Perkins recalls of her childhood.
Already quite fearless, Perkins received her very first skateboard on her ninth birthday. The gift from her parents was timely — a new skatepark was opening up in her neighborhood.
"I was honestly on that skateboard, all day, every day," she remembers.
Hooking up with a neighbor down the street, Perkins and her companion started teaching each other tricks. "The more I skated, the easier it got," she says of her early beginnings.
Perkins would quickly rise to become one of the top skateboarders in the world. By the age of 12, she had become so skilled that she captured first place at a Gravity Games contest — defeating 45 boys in the process.
"That was huge," she says of the 2001 victory, which soon led to a deal with Volcom. "I didn't think going into the contest, 'Oh, I'm going to win this.' It was more like, 'Oh, I'm going to try my best, and if I do win it, then that's awesome.' It's the one contest that I'll always remember."
At the time, Perkins had little choice but to take on her male counterparts.
Says Perkins: "I didn't really think anything different of skating with girls and skating with guys, because there really weren't any girls at the time, so I wanted to beat the boys."
A year after her triumphant victory, the number of female skateboarders started to grow, so Perkins began competing against her fellow newcomers. She would take first place at the All Girls Skate Jam in her hometown, defeating some of the top female skateboarding pros in the world.
"It was still hard because there was still these new girls that I had never seen before," she says of the switch in competition. "That was lot of pushing myself to learn new tricks.
Still just an eight grader at the time, Perkins managed to maintain her focus in school as the travel demands began to increase along with the growth of both her skills and sport.