Welcome To The Team!

Team managers on their eight latest ams-an unofficial guide to what it takes to make it in skateboarding.

Thank you for writing in and letting us know you can back lip a twelve-stair and now you want to know how to get sponsored. Unfortunately, as much as you think you are, you’re far from being in a league of your own. It’s not that the days of sponsoring the best skateboarder around are over, it’s just that the criteria for judging the best skateboarder, or one who companies care about sponsoring and promoting, entails more than simply what he or she can do on a skateboard.That being said, we went straight to the shot-callers of skateboarding-the team managers, pros, and mentors who spend their every waking hour adding their stamp of approval or tossing your tape into the endless sea of plastic-and asked them what it is that sealed the deal when they added their latest ams to the squadron. For you, this is a guide for what to do (and what not to do) if you really want to put your all into it and consider taking on skateboarding as a potential career. For the team managers, it’s a way to say thanks and show their public support for their young. Don’t forget your notebook-it doesn’t get any more “straight from the horse’s mouth” than this. And it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared … in case that day comes when you’re welcomed to the team.

Ed Templeton on MATT BENNETT for TOY MACHINE
“Matt B is freaking tweaked-and that worked to his advantage.”

Age: 19

Date of hire: At the Good & Evil video premiere, October 2004.Hometown: Corona, California.

Other sponsors: Active and Pig Wheels. And that’s it, so start calling him, bitches!

When and where do you first remember hearing about a “Matt Bennett”?

I think Billy Marks told me about this kid he skated with who was doing some crazy tricks. I remember giving the okay to start flowing him some boards. Then I remember our filmer Kevin going out to film with him and coming back to tell me that the kid was “f-king amazing.”

How did it come about that Matt was being considered to join the team?

We decided to take him on one of our U.S. tours. That’s the best way to see if someone is gonna work. If you can survive a Toy tour and be a contributor, there’s a good chance you’ll make it onto the team. I remember him being kind of shy at the demos, but he always did something great at each demo, and even though nobody knew who the hell he was, the kids seemed to gravitate towards him. He’s very watchable.

What’s the timeline someone goes through, and for Matt specifically, when going from “flow” to official “am” status?

There is no real timeline. If you get along with the team, and the team as a whole votes you on, then that’s 90 percent of it. It boils down to me seeing that someone has potential and has a willingness to shoot for their best. That’s the other ten percent.

What gap does he fill on the team, or what does he do that no one else can?

One of the big reasons he got on so quickly was the fact that he did different tricks. He was thinking outside the box and bringing something new to Toy Machine. He needed to work on his tranny skills, but I knew that if he was skating with our team, that would soon follow. The other big reason was his mellowness. There’s no one more easygoing than Matt B.

With so many kids being so good and able to do every trick these days, it’s often the little things that matter. What are some of the little things Matt does best?

The little things were also a big part. Number one: He got along with everyone and wasn’t annoying in any way. Number two: He has this great style-tall and lanky with follow-through. Number three: He trusts his teammates’ advice. Josh (Harmony) tells him he needs to slow down to get a certain trick, so he slows down and gets it next try. We suggest things we know he can do, and he’s down to try them and pulls it most of the time. Stuff like that. He’s a really funny character and fun to watch skate orust sitting there existing.

What were you surprised to find out about him after he joined the team?

That he has this one section of gray hair on his head that’s unexplainable.

As a fine skateboarding connoisseur and one who has the ultimate say in approval or rejection of new talent when it comes to the squad, what do you look for when adding a new rider?

Aside from all the obvious stuff, like skate ability, style, and getting along with everyone, I try to look at people from a psychological view. I look for things in their personality that could be a problem in the future. You know when kids are trying to get on your team, they’re on their best behavior. So I try to watch them in different situations and see how they handle them-watch how quickly they lose it, how they hold up under stress, how they hold themselves as a person. Such small things say a lot about people. Weirdness is a good thing. Matt B is freaking tweaked-and that worked to his advantage.

When was the last instance where you could officially pat yourself on the back and say, “Damn, I’m really glad we have this guy on our team”?

Actually, I was still a little up in the air about him. He did deliver an excellent video part, but I was wondering if he could sustain and keep doing what he was doing for a long time. The pat on the back moment happened last month on our Barcelona filming trip. He continually pushed himself, took full-on man-slams without whining every day, and kept going at it. It was the first time I could really see his heart and his toughness. I remember talking with Kevin and saying, “Man, this kid is f-king nails! He really has what it takes.”

Vern Laird on BRIAN BROWN for LISTEN
“I guess you can say that he’s our bowl skater.”

Age: 20

Date of hire: Listen rider since day one.Hometown: Westchester, New York.

Other sponsors: Adio, Second Nature Skate Shop.

When and where do you first remember hearing about a “Brian Brown”?

I saw some footage of him that R.B. (Umali) had back in the day, and I thought he was a little ripper.

How did it come about that Brian was being considered to join the team?

Rob (Gonzalez) and Toya (Danny Montoya) wanted to start the company out with two ams, and I think we just got lucky that B. Brown was in between board sponsors at that time and he was down for being a part of something new. It was just like a clean start for all of us, and it fits like a glove.What’s the timeline someone goes through, and for Brian specifically, when going from “flow” to official “am” status?

B. Brown was never on flow, he was official from the start. As far as other “flow” riders, it kinda just depends. Everyone is different. It depends on how much they go out and try to make a name for themselves, as far as shooting photos, filming, and making it out to skate events. It also depends on how well the “flow” guy fits in with the rest of the team. If we’re out on a trip or something and the “flow” guy is acting a fool, he could see himself on the next Greyhound bus home.

What gap does he fill on the team, or what does he do that no one else can?

B. Brown is the talent on the team. He’s the whole talent. He might say Rodrigo is, but I know B. Brown is. Skate-wise, he rips everything. I guess you can say that he’s our bowl skater. Personality-wise, he plays the role of comic relief when everyone’s stressed out.

With so many kids being so good and able to do every trick these days, it’s often the little things that matter. What are some of the little things Brian does best?

B. Brown brings the steeeezzzz! That’s one thing that’s missing in skating today. Everyone can do everything, but can they make it look good? He also brings that East Coast flava that I never get to see out on the West Coast. Everyone does the same shit at the same spot out here.

What were you surprised to find out about him after he joined the team?

His tranny skills. Most up-and-comers can’t even axle stall a mini ramp. B. Brown skates it all.

As a fine skateboarding connoisseur and one who has the ultimate say in approval or rejection of new talent when it comes to the squad, what do you look for when adding a new rider?

Style and originality. That’s what’s lacking from skateboarding today. I’m real picky about who gets on. Some people might call me a hater, but I just have standards. Thanks, Kenny A. (Anderson), for that line.

When was the last instance where you could officially pat yourself on the back and say, “Damn, I’m really glad we have this guy on our team”?

I guess from day one. I’m just happy to have everyone on the team, including the “flow” guys.

Ewan Bowman and Geoff Rowley on DAVID GONZALES for FLIP
“He only complains when we’re leaving a spot and he still wants to skate. And he doesn’t take up much space in the van.”

Age: 14Date of hire: Classified.

Hometown: Medellin, Colombia.

Other sponsors: Globe, Ricta, Fury, Hawk Clothing, Libre Board Shop.

When and where do you first remember hearing about a “David Gonzales”?

Ewan: Geoff had a video of him from Colombia, and it was amazing. He was so small, but looked so proper on his board. He was on as soon as we saw the video.Geoff: It was roughly the summer of 2004. My first thoughts were of sheer elation. The man had energy seeping out of every inch of his frame.

How did it come about that David was being considered to join the team?

Ewan: We’d heard about this little ripper from Colombia who could skate everything and was a natural, so we checked him out.Geoff: Since the day we saw him skate, we wanted him on the team-he was Flip all over, no questions asked. He reminded me and Jeremy (Fox) of myself at a young age.

What’s the timeline someone goes through, and David specifically, when going from “flow” to official “am” status?

Ewan: You can usually tell right on the spot the ones who really have it when you see them skate in person. There is no flow. Once you’re on, that’s it.Geoff: No flow. If you’re on Flip, we mean it. You’re part of the team immediately. Let the good times roll.

What gap does he fill on the team, or what does he do that no one else can?

Ewan: First off, he’s too small to fill any gaps at the moment, but when he grows he might fit into one somewhere. He can do backside 360 no-complies with style. He speaks Spanish and none of us do.

Geoff: David is part of the new breed with it all. Style and heart mixed with the abilities of the past and the originality of the future. He fits wherever he wants, comfortably. Amen.

With so many kids being so good and able to do every trick these days, it’s often the little things that matter. What are some of the little things David does best?

Ewan: David can charm the socks off old ladies. All girls love him when they see him, which helps me. He skates, sleeps, and eats-there’s no stopping him. He only complains when we’re leaving a spot and he still wants to skate, and he doesn’t take up much space in the van.

Geoff: He’s an animal. I like that best. An animal? Perhaps a badger, could be a wolverine-a young one, of course!

What were you surprised to find out about him after he joined the team?

Ewan: No surprises.

Geoff: Animalistic.

As fine skateboarding connoisseurs and ones that have the ultimate say in approval or rejection of new talent when it comes to the squad, what do you look for when adding a new rider?

Ewan: David Gonzales-look at him for the answer. Goddamn it!

When was the last instance where you could officially pat yourself on the back and say, “Damn, I’m really glad we have this guy on our team”?

Geoff: Every day! Everybody on Flip has been a blessing. We are all one.

Bill Weiss on GRANT PATTERSON for BLIND
“He never complains about how shitty the spots I take him to are.”

Age: 20

Date of hire: August 2004.

Hometown: Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

Other sponsors: Circa, KR3W, Sushi.

When and where do you first remembep. B. Brown skates it all.

As a fine skateboarding connoisseur and one who has the ultimate say in approval or rejection of new talent when it comes to the squad, what do you look for when adding a new rider?

Style and originality. That’s what’s lacking from skateboarding today. I’m real picky about who gets on. Some people might call me a hater, but I just have standards. Thanks, Kenny A. (Anderson), for that line.

When was the last instance where you could officially pat yourself on the back and say, “Damn, I’m really glad we have this guy on our team”?

I guess from day one. I’m just happy to have everyone on the team, including the “flow” guys.

Ewan Bowman and Geoff Rowley on DAVID GONZALES for FLIP
“He only complains when we’re leaving a spot and he still wants to skate. And he doesn’t take up much space in the van.”

Age: 14Date of hire: Classified.

Hometown: Medellin, Colombia.

Other sponsors: Globe, Ricta, Fury, Hawk Clothing, Libre Board Shop.

When and where do you first remember hearing about a “David Gonzales”?

Ewan: Geoff had a video of him from Colombia, and it was amazing. He was so small, but looked so proper on his board. He was on as soon as we saw the video.Geoff: It was roughly the summer of 2004. My first thoughts were of sheer elation. The man had energy seeping out of every inch of his frame.

How did it come about that David was being considered to join the team?

Ewan: We’d heard about this little ripper from Colombia who could skate everything and was a natural, so we checked him out.Geoff: Since the day we saw him skate, we wanted him on the team-he was Flip all over, no questions asked. He reminded me and Jeremy (Fox) of myself at a young age.

What’s the timeline someone goes through, and David specifically, when going from “flow” to official “am” status?

Ewan: You can usually tell right on the spot the ones who really have it when you see them skate in person. There is no flow. Once you’re on, that’s it.Geoff: No flow. If you’re on Flip, we mean it. You’re part of the team immediately. Let the good times roll.

What gap does he fill on the team, or what does he do that no one else can?

Ewan: First off, he’s too small to fill any gaps at the moment, but when he grows he might fit into one somewhere. He can do backside 360 no-complies with style. He speaks Spanish and none of us do.

Geoff: David is part of the new breed with it all. Style and heart mixed with the abilities of the past and the originality of the future. He fits wherever he wants, comfortably. Amen.

With so many kids being so good and able to do every trick these days, it’s often the little things that matter. What are some of the little things David does best?

Ewan: David can charm the socks off old ladies. All girls love him when they see him, which helps me. He skates, sleeps, and eats-there’s no stopping him. He only complains when we’re leaving a spot and he still wants to skate, and he doesn’t take up much space in the van.

Geoff: He’s an animal. I like that best. An animal? Perhaps a badger, could be a wolverine-a young one, of course!

What were you surprised to find out about him after he joined the team?

Ewan: No surprises.

Geoff: Animalistic.

As fine skateboarding connoisseurs and ones that have the ultimate say in approval or rejection of new talent when it comes to the squad, what do you look for when adding a new rider?

Ewan: David Gonzales-look at him for the answer. Goddamn it!

When was the last instance where you could officially pat yourself on the back and say, “Damn, I’m really glad we have this guy on our team”?

Geoff: Every day! Everybody on Flip has been a blessing. We are all one.

Bill Weiss on GRANT PATTERSON for BLIND
“He never complains about how shitty the spots I take him to are.”

Age: 20

Date of hire: August 2004.

Hometown: Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

Other sponsors: Circa, KR3W, Sushi.

When and where do you first remember hearing about a “Grant Patterson”?

I went skating with Grant when he rode for Bootleg while we were filming for a Digital I was working on. Everywhere we went, he’d just knock some crazy trick out. Skating seems to come very naturally for him.

How did it come about that Grant was being considered to join the team?

The more I filmed with him, I started to realize that this kid can do anything he wants to on a skateboard. I talked to some of the guys, and they wanted to meet him first, so I took him to go skate with the Blind guys, and they all got along great. Everyone was down right away!

What’s the timeline someone goes through, and Grant specifically, when going from “flow” to official “am” status?

I always pay attention to new guys who are coming up. If someone catches my eye who’s ripping and is in need of boards, I will usually start to flow them stuff. If they continue to skate well, I’m glad to supply them with product as long as they keep progressing and have a good head on their shoulders. With Grant getting on, I got along with him and was backing his skating from the start, so there was never any question for me.

What gap does he fill on the team, or what does he do that no one else can?

He has a unique take on really hard tricks. He can do really tech flip tricks down or onto anything. His nollie flips are gnarly!

With so many kids being so good and able to do every trick these days, it’s often the little things that matter. What are some of the little things Grant does best?

Grant’s attitude is his best asset. After all, he is from Canada, so all the winters he’s dealt with make him quite humble. He’s always down to skate any terrain and hop on any last-minute trips. He never complains about how shitty the spots I take him to are and is always down to skate until he drops.

What were you surprised to find out about him after he joined the team?

How down he is for Brampton-he loves it! He has huge hometown pride. When he comes here to film and shoot, he’s always excited to go home and hang with his family and friends.

Most kids want to stay in California.

As a fine skateboarding connoisseur and one who has the ultimate say in approval or rejection of new talent when it comes to the squad, what do you look for when adding a new rider?

I look for kids who think for themselves, kids who aren’t trying to fit into a mold. I like when someone’s skating catches me off guard. I like seeing new guys who are really diverse, down to skate everything.

When was the last instance where you could officially pat yourself on the back and say, “Damn, I’m really glad we have this guy on our team”?

Every time we go skate.

Paul Sharpe on DENNIS DURRANT for POPWAR
“I flew Cairo out immediately to play a game of SKATE with the kid!”

Age: 20

Date of hire: April 1, 2004.

Hometown: Brisbaine, Australia.

Other sponsors: Circa, Ricta, Venture, Kwala Distribution.

When and where do you first remember hearing about a “Dennis Durrant”?

Kwala Distribution sent me an e-mail to let me know that he was coming to town. He stopped by Giant his first week in town and handed me a sequence of a kickflip backside noseblunt down an infamous handrail.

How did it come about that Dennis was being considered to join the team?

He destroyed everything he touched in California on the very same trip that I was warned about. Every day, it was something new! I was like, “What the f-k!”

What’s the timeline someone goes through, and Dennis specifically, when going from “flow” to official “am” status?

It was almost instantaneous with Dennis. I flew Cairo (Foster) out immediately to play a game of SKATE with the kid! I said, “Cairo, let’s do this!” Cairo said, “Are you sure?” I said, “It’s done!” The rest is history.

What gap does he fill on the team, or what does he do that no one else can?

He’s “The Determinator.” He’s like the Bondo in the crack right before you have to ollie onto that sketchy