Patti McGee has always happily skated to her own tune. “I was always more inclined in making up my own job,” she says from her perch at the Teal Press, a screenprinting shop in Fullerton she runs with her daughter, Hailey Villa. “My mother wanted me to go to San Diego State and join her sorority, from her days,” says McGee. “But I was a surfer and a skateboarder; I wasn’t a sorority girl. And I don’t know what would’ve gotten me further!”
McGee is a living legend: the first female skateboarding champion; the first skateboarder to grace the cover of a major mainstream magazine (LIFE in 1965 at age 19) and Skateboarder; and a pioneering demo girl for Hobie Skateboards, showing off tricks that proved to an entire generation of girls that they could grind as well as the boys. She had her own car at 16, making coastal trips to Malibu from San Diego. “I picked my seat in school in my classes,” she says, “so that I could always see the beach, check the surf.”
After she won her skateboarding title, she went on to mine turquoise in Nevada. And with her love of plants, her dream job, McGee says, is to be a volunteer at the local botanical garden: “I don’t know about running the wheelbarrow, but I’d like to be a tour guide.”
After being laid off from a radio job in Arizona, Villa took up screenprinting, and now she and McGee make apparel for Pink Widow Distribution, a skateboarding company founded to “house and distribute various female-focused skateboarding and apparel brands.”
McGee is the brand ambassador and runs “the computer.” She was impressed by Pink Widow head Matt Gaudio’s intent to make a space for women in a male-dominated sport. Mother and daughter have done community engagement at Fullerton’s Independence Park and even designed nylon backpacks for a local Girl Scouts troop, as well as the logo for the group’s skate jam last year. “They’re considering making a skating patch!” says Villa happily.
The two hope to expand and open more Teal Press shops in the future.
Though she was often photographed barefoot and without a helmet, McGee offers the following life advice: “Wear a helmet, so you can live to skate another day!”