Sally Gibson, owner of Sally’s Hair to Dye For in Preston, is well known in the area as a business owner and artist as she styles hair and uses her artistic talents to paint business windows throughout Preston’s downtown. She may also be known for helping set the stage at one of her daughter’s productions or volunteering in the community. However, many may not know about Gibson’s resurrected hobby of skateboarding.
During Gibson’s youth, growing up in Rochester, she could be found gliding through the parks on her trusted skateboard, doing elbow stands or swooshing through the ramps. She would skateboard through her neighborhood or hang out at the YMCA. Eventually, she joined the skateboarding team at the YMCA, sponsored by Dean Stenehjem, and became the first girl to enter skateboarding competitions in Minnesota.
The team, with the help of her father Jim Patterson, developed an indoor park at the YMCA, with Patterson donating lumber, materials and time to build a halfpipe ramp. Gibson remembered the ceiling was so low that when skateboarders were running the ramp, they had to put their hands up so they didn’t bump their heads.
Going to competitions with the YMCA team, Gibson was competing against boys her age. Finally, a girls division was created, but there were only a few girls competing for a time.
Competing with the boys, however, didn’t bother Gibson in the least. “I could really be myself and they just accepted me,” she added.
At one point, a scout approached Gibson about filling in for a missing member of the Hawaiian Skyhooks team when they were performing an exhibition at the state fair. “I went pro for a day,” she joked.
In all reality, however, Gibson was a phenom of her time, showcasing her talents on the skateboard in competitions. As she became older, she competed less often, but still “dabbled” in the sport, even after moving to Preston, but it took a back seat to her life as a mother and business owner.
Then, more recently, when COVID caused a lot of people to shelter in place, Gibson developed some anxiety. She dug out her skateboards to help calm her mind and energize her body. Creating a space in one of the outbuildings where she lives, Gibson would do some freestyle tricks on her board and record videos of her riding in their shed.
“I had to find some outlet for my stress and skateboarding helped me focus and it calmed me down,” she added.
Now that more places are opening up, Gibson goes to the indoor park in Rochester to skateboard and practice tricks. She can even be found boarding through the streets and sidewalks of Preston on a nice day.
Since several decades have passed and Gibson is older and wiser, she joked that she knows her limits. “I don’t go full force anymore,” she stated, knowing that falls and mishaps could cause more severe injuries and longer recovery times than they may have in her youth.
When attending a class reunion, Gibson reconnected with some of her skateboarding friends and together they decided to host a skateboarding reunion later this year. She noted it will also be the perfect opportunity to honor their YMCA team sponsor, Dean Stenehjem.
In addition to her day with the Hawaiian team, Gibson said one of the most exciting experiences she had associated with skateboarding was when she was invited to a film premiere in Stillwater, Minn., “Skate Dreams” and she was able to meet the director, the mayor of Stillwater and skateboarding pro Nicole House of California, but originally from Stillwater. “It was just incredible,” Gibson said.
The best memories she has from competing have to do with the camaraderie she had with her teammates. “It was just so much fun to be part of something that was so different,” Gibson said. “Being with this group of guys, and becoming such good friends, was really special.”
She added that the skateboarding competitions have become more “radical” in recent times and the tricks are more complicated and dangerous.
Nevertheless, she plans to keep “dabbling” in the sport and living each day to its fullest. “I look back on the past year and consider all the people who have died and I just feel I have to keep moving,” Gibson said.
“It makes me happy,” she added. “This is joy for me. I’m looking forward to more nice days when I can go out and around in Preston.”