Ronnie Sandoval Interview
What happened six month ago, Ronnie?
I broke my patella, my knee cap.
Where did that happen?
It happened at Peck Park in San Pedro.
A long way from San Pedro, but not in spirit—blazing NBS across the Tottenham hump
What were you trying when you got broke off?
I was doing a backside air. I thought I could tweak it out all crazy. I messed up my foot placing on my board and my knee broke my fall. It was the first thing that hit the ground.
What were you thinking when you lifted up your pants and saw your knee?
I immediately sat down and bent my leg. I made it worse for myself because I could see what was happening with my kneecap. I could see it separate. Right then and there I thought skateboarding was over for me.
That’s heavy. When you got to the hospital, did you get X-rays or did they know right away that you needed surgery?
They didn’t know what was going on. They thought I might have dislocated my kneecap. They did an X-ray and saw that it was broken in four places and a couple of small pieces.
How long did you have to wait to get the surgery?
That was on a Friday and I had to wait until Monday morning to get surgery. I asked the nurse how long I would be held up for with a broken knee. I thought she was going to say a year or that I would never skateboard again. But she said six-to-seven months. I was stoked.
In those six-to-seven months you did a lot of rehabbing. What kind of stuff did you do?
I quit smoking; I quit drinking. My wife Irie was making me smoothies with bone broth in them. A lot of bananas. I was saging the house a lot, doing a lot of meditation. I was watching Riverdale and Thirteen Reasons Why, just sitting and waiting. Not eating like shit. I was watching a lot of John Cardiel videos about when he hurt his back and trying to get some motivation.
Scraping into the Victorian era with a roof-rubbing Smithvert at HOV London
Did you feel like you were going to be able to fully skate again, or were you scared you wouldn’t be able to skate like you used to skate?
For sure. I immediately thought I would never skate the same again. I still feel like that even though I’m skating now. I still feel like I’m not 100-percent of what I want to be on my board.
Did you do physical therapy?
Yeah, I did physical therapy at Harbor PT in San Pedro. They were looking out for me and giving me a bunch of exercises to do at home. They were really helping me out.
At the time you got hurt, you were working on a Vans video part. How long had you been filming for that?
I think we were filming for about three-or-four months. We went on a London trip and went on a couple small trips. I was really on point, trying to get that shit done. I was having a good time while doing it. I wasn’t in a bad mindset at the time. I was more focused on doing what I had to do and having fun while doing it. I was in a crazy mindset, on some possessed shit—not caring about pain or the consequences of not making it. I think that was the best mindset I could have been in for filming that video part.
Deck? Check. Front rock in the steep zone
When the doctor said you could start skating again, what was it like stepping on your board? What was the first session like?
I skated to Peck Park and the first thing I wanted to do was the trick that broke my knee. I had a knee brace, kind of a knee protection over my patella. Everyone was kinda tripping. I didn’t say hi to anybody; I just had my headphones on. I dropped in, did a couple grinds, did the backside air, left and went home. That was the first time I stepped on my board. That’s all I was thinking about: I gotta do this trick that took me out.
It takes a lot of mental prep going through an injury like that. What’s your advice for kids who have to go through it? Tyson is going through that right now also. What kind of advice were you giving him?
Putting yourself in a stronger mindset and telling yourself that it’s not the end. The time will pass over really quickly if you keep your mind set on other things: eating healthy, taking glucosamine, keeping your bones strong, drinking smoothies, not being a pile and drinking beers and smoking. If you smoke weed—you can eat it or drink it. That’s what the doctor told me. I don’t smoke or drink so that was good for me. But for someone that does, just stay away from those things for as long as possible until you’re skating again. Pick up your old habits; it doesn’t matter. The one thing that matters is a strong mindset. At first I was in a really deep depression. I thought I would never skateboard again. I got past it and here I am today.
Average guy, exceptional maneuver—alley-oop half-Cab grab over the onion
Now that you’re back, somewhat fully, how’s it been filming for the Vans video?
It’s been good. I’m stoked on the things that we’ve gotten since I’ve been back. I’m trying to put myself back into that same mindset I was in before. It’s kinda hard now that I have something that comes in and out of my mind while I’m trying a trick. I just need to get over the fact that it’s happened to me. Sooner or later it will just be a memory and I will be back to the mindset where I just need to fuckin’ get back on my board and do what I wanna do—not having anything hold me back.
It seems like all of your video parts thus far have been kind of you going out and just skating. Do you ever plan tricks out for parts?
I never did when I was younger. It was more of a spontaneous act when we were at spots. Now I do have some battles I want to put myself through. I have some spots I definitely want to visit and see if I can make it out in one piece.
Handplants on the moon. Fully frontal at Romford
You’ve been in San Pedro your whole life. You made a little switch up and now you’re in Watsonville. What made you move?
Well, I’ll be honest with you—being that I was born and raised in San Pedro, I love the town. Some of the people in it, I’m not too fond of. I needed to be somewhere different where nobody knows me or who I am. My wife quit her job welding down south and she got a job in Watsonville. We moved there together and I think it will be good for us—new environment, new feeling, new memories, the whole nine yards. It felt good leaving San Pedro and all the bullshit behind.
Kinda bummed because we were roommates but now I’m just a lone wolf. Your new roommate is pretty badass. Who are you living with now?
I live with Jason Jessee.
How is Jason as a roommate?
It’s sick as fuck. He’s a really cool person. He’s got a fuckin’ kind heart. Best skateboarding style. All-around good dude. He’s a walking encyclopedia. It’s never a dull moment with Jason. It’s a good thing to have a person like that around you. I’m kind of like that in some ways. We have a lot in common. I’m really thankful for him for letting me live in Watsonville in his beautiful house.
Giving the bean to an ancient snake. Rom is rough as guts!
You’re a pretty strange guy with your rituals. What’s the deal with blasting oldies in the shower?
I play these two oldies songs that are about five minutes each. They’re good songs— “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and “I’m Just an Average Guy” by The Masqueraders. You know how you have your morning jams? Those two are my morning jams. They’re also five-minutes long and I don’t want to be in the shower more than ten minutes. I’ll listen to both of those songs, I’ll get out, put a third song on while I’m brushing my teeth and deodorant and putting on my clothes. Then I go into my room and do my stretches and my workouts.
Are you a lover or are you a hater?
I’m a hater, dude. I hate a lot of things and I love so little. That’s alright because that was the environment that I was born into. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have my reasons why I hate things. They’re very good reasons. I don’t hate for no reason.
You’ve been on the road for quite a few years now. What keeps you out there?
Heavy revs, dude. It was Jake Phelps and Preston that kept the fire going. Monk as well. Kept the fire lit. That’s what I was most stoked on. And the crew that comes up behind those guys, the Hellride crew is out of this fuckin’ world. It’s what keeps me going. I want to see my friends, and I don’t see them all the time, so these trips we go on and going to skate something unknown is what keeps me going. Seeking out the unknown in this world—there’s always something rad to find. That’s what we’re looking for, ’til the end.
Stars and bars, you can’t keep San Pedro’s ninja down. Blunt fakie floater at good ol’ Potrero
If you were to win Skater of the Year this year, where would you go and who would you bring?
If I won Skater of the Year this year, I would fuckin’ die. That would be the biggest accomplishment in life, for me, besides being born. I’d bring the Hellride crew. I think we would have to take it to the Cayman Islands. I know there’s really good street spots and a good park there. The Cayman Islands is where I want to be.
You just had two colorways come out for Vans. What was the concept behind those?
The big picture behind the shoes were the Northern Lights, based off of my wife because she’s Native American. They’re so beautiful. I’ve never seen them with my own eyes but I wanted to dedicate my shoe to that. Not a lot of people make it to see them so I put a little glimpse of that on my shoe.
The shoe is kind of tie-dye, though. Are you sure they weren’t just tie-dyed?
Yeah, a lot of people were, like, “These tie-dyed shoes are pretty cool.” They’re supposed to be the Northern lights but I guess they look tie-dyed.
Coping-crushing Smith—The Youth Are Getting Restless
Those must have been a best seller at Zumiez.
Yeah, for all those hipsters out there. I’m not talking shit about hipsters but I’m pretty sure they were stoked because they wear a lot of tie-dyed stuff. I wear tie-dye, too, but I’m not a hipster.
What things are you looking forward to in your skate career?
To be honest, I look forward to giving myself and my wife a better life. I’m willing to put it all on the table and give it 100-percent, sacrifice my body for years to come. I just want to skate and have fun with my friends and I’m not giving up at all. I don’t plan on leaving skateboarding. This is my life, my first love. This is what matters to me. My wife skates so she can share that love with me as well.
Back noseblunt the fin? Gotta be the (Alva) shoes!
Whether we’re driving to LA or on a six-hour car ride, you’re always passing out in the passenger seat. You’re a pretty crappy co-pilot. Why are you always falling asleep?
It’s weird. I’ve been doing that since South Africa. We would be driving over potholes and I would be passed out. They would be like, “How could you sleep through those potholes?” They were literally about to pop the tires. I don’t know, though. I just get tired and take power naps. You gotta take power naps so you have more energy for the next spot.
I heard Raney was pissed in South Africa when you kept falling asleep. He was like, “Look out the window, motherfucker! This shit is beautiful!”
Raney was pretty upset with me. It’s all good, though. You know how you prevent that? You don’t sit next to Raney.
So you don’t get caught slippin’. You never seem to pack light. You always have your day bag and your duffel bag. What kind of essentials are you packing in your day bag?
What am I not packing? I got a first-aid kit, I got wipes, hand sanitizer, Q-tips, extra socks, a pair of pants, a brand-new shirt, my foam roller, a fire starter, a flashlight, headphones, my camera, notebook and a pencil, some stamps just in case I want to send a letter out.
What’s scarier than getting fat? Getting phat, bro! Back lip on hella vert
Where are you going to send a letter to on a skate trip?
I might send my mom a letter or a postcard, something like that. You never know when you might need these things. I’m not slippin’.
Have you ever packed weapons in your bag?
I have. Whenever I’m driving on a trip, I’ll bring my big-ass knife, my Rambo knife, just in case. You never know. If I’m flying I’ll sneak a razor blade or something in my fanny pack.
Do you ever fuck with ninja throwing stars?
Yeah, I got like five of them at home. I’m actually going to bring them to Watsonville because there’s a lot of things that could be ninja starred up here.
Street Ron! Poised back crail off an urban break
What’s a normal day like for Ronnie Sandoval?
When I was at home, I would wake up and take a shower, listen to those two songs, brush my teeth, weigh myself to make sure I’m on point, do my stretches and do my little workout, then I’ll make some food and go skate, come back, stretch again, go on a bike ride for an hour, come back, take a shower and go to sleep.
Why are you weighing yourself?
Because I don’t want to get fat. That’s my biggest fear.
Does it run in the family?
I do have fat family members. I have “fat potential.” That’s what I was told by Jamie Hart.
Are there any talks of getting a pro shoe with Vans?
There has been a little talk about it but not much. I really hope it happens because I love Vans and I love the crew. I don’t really need anything else at all. I’m stoked where I’m at and I’m thankful as well. So thank you, guys, for giving me the opportunity to prove myself that I could be more than just some kid coming up from an alright town and giving me the opportunity to travel as much as I do.
I bet a bunch of people are wondering what those white mid-tops are that you’re always wearing. What are those?
Those are old Alva mid-tops. Those guys are blowing it. They have to make those shoes. Those are the best shoes on Vans.
I heard Vans has to make them special just for you.
I asked them to make me some and they said they couldn’t just make me five pairs—they had to make 30 pairs. I told them to come at me with 30 pairs. I’ll hit them up in another year for a box.
Do you think Alva would be pissed if that became your pro shoe?
Yes and no. Alva? You’ve had your chance, bro. We love you. You are skateboarding. But you gotta pass the torch. That shoe is one-of-a-kind. That shoe is so sick. I don’t skate anything else besides that shoe. I would be thankful and very stoked to have that shoe.
Frontside boneless for Jake and Cru Jones
You’ve been back on the board only a couple of months and you just won the contest at Lower Bobs. How did that feel?
It felt unbelievable. I didn’t really see myself winning the contest. I just wanted to go and prove to myself that I could still skate. I kind of went in with the mindset of doing it for my friends and my friends who have passed, not even for myself—just having the support of my lady and some of my very close friends there. I just wanted to skate and have fun. The outcome was that I got first place. I did not think one bit that I was going to win.
What were the finals like?
Finals were hectic. Semifinals sucked because I didn’t land nothing. The finals were sick. I got my rhythm back. Pedro was killing it. Everyone was going insane. Rowan, fuckin’ Delfino, everybody. I was feeding off of their vibes and I just went to another place and just tried to stay on my board. I just gave it my all.
Blue skies and hurricanes? Ronnie twists reality at will
So you recently got married but also got divorced. What happened there?
Irie and I were going through rough times because of my stupidity. We decided to cancel the divorce and stay married, work on our relationship and not give up. I love her very much and I can’t live without her. I realized that.
It’s got to be crazy getting married at 20. What was going through your mind to commit so early on?
It already felt like we were married just without the title. I felt like this and I still feel like this—she’s the only woman that I ever want to be with. She’s my best friend and my Native goddess. I never met anybody like her before so I was willing to take that chance. I asked her to marry me at our favorite food spot in Pedro, Maui Chicken. I pretended like I dropped my napkin, I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around, I had the ring in my hand. I asked her; she said yes. The guy behind the counter was like, “Sick! Hell yeah, congratulations!” We got married about a week later.
What’s it like being married at such a young age?
It’s good to know what you want in life at a young age because a lot of people don’t figure it out until they’re, like, late-30s and early-40s. I love my wife and I’m thankful that she’s in my life. I don’t know where I would be without her. I wouldn’t be here.
Don’t grow up too fast, Ronnie.
I won’t. I’ll roll with the punches and stay on the road. I’ll wait for the time to grow up. I know that day’s coming soon.
Gotta stay young forever.
That’s a fantasy everyone wants to live, but sooner or later you have to wake up and face reality. You have to provide for your own family and live your life. Get a trade, stay in school, graduate. Skateboarding’s always going to be there. It’s also good to learn and figure out what you’d like to be. Try to skateboard for the rest of your life—that’s my goal.
Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Or cradle. On anywhere over vert for that matter. Unless you’re Ronnie Sandoval, of course
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