Laura Thornhill Caswell was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As a child, she enjoyed roller skating. Her life changed when she saw a skateboard, and she knew riding was what she was destined for. Whenever her neighbors left their skateboard in their yard, Laura borrowed it for a few days at a time. As she practiced in the driveway and on the sidewalk, she learned how to kick turn. The skill came naturally to her. She grew up playing all kinds of team sports and was a total tomboy! Competing with the boys, she excelled at all of them.
Laura’s family moved to Redondo Beach, California, in January 1974. In 8th grade, Laura entered a school skating contest and beat all the boys. This was a turning point and gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her passion. Laura won both first and second place in the Steve South Bay’s Skateboard Contest in 1975. On that same day, she was asked to join one of the biggest skate teams in the world called “Logan Earth Ski,” which exceeded her initial expectations. Skateboarder magazine featured her story. Every contest Laura entered, she won or placed in the top three. She even won a few Worlds Championship titles. She had plenty of endorsements and sponsorships. She had the honor of having the very first “Female Signature Model” skateboard.
Furthermore, Laura was the first woman to be interviewed by Skateboarder Magazine and had the first female centerfold in a skateboarding magazine! It was taken from the 22-foot pipes in the Arizona desert. She was featured in almost every issue of Skateboarder Magazine, considered the bible of skateboarding in the 1970s, and won the 1977 Skateboarder of the Year Poll.
Laura suffered a fully dislocated left elbow in 1978, which ended her competitive skating career. Yet, she still loved to skate and continued to participate in skate events through 1980, when the golden era of skateboarding ended.
Below are some stunning photos of a young Laura Thornhill from the mid-1970s.