A Team Manager's Survival Guide
Picture this—you’re in Winterset, Iowa, it’s 9:40 PM and you have a van full of tired, hangry skaters who are all requesting Indian food for dinner. Does Indian food even exist in Iowa? Are any restaurants open past 8 PM in this town? How many damn beers are these guys going to order? Is Praman going to wake up and make it to the van tomorrow morning? All of these questions are swirling around in your head and it’s only the first night of the trip. Now, I don’t typically have to think about stuff like this because I’m just the filmer. But I got a call from top brass telling me that I needed to man the ship on this Midwest mission. Me?! I’m a videographer from Minnesota! I can’t be the Team Manager! There was no wiggling out of it, so before we loaded the van I called up some legendary TMs to get advice on how to handle this rowdy bunch of rascals. Here’s their tips:
But first, watch Mason and Jack hop in the van with the stars of Three Seasons for Tim's first foray as a TM
Cole Mathews, Stereo TM 2004-2006, Element TM 2010-2017
The TM job is pretty simple—you’re supposed to pay for things, drive everyone around and keep the energy high. That being said, somehow there are still more shitty TMs than good ones. Know your place in the van. We’re not the thing that keeps skateboarding going. If we die, nobody is coming to our funeral but there will be a parade for your riders. Reward the skaters who put in true effort. If someone is always drunk, disrespectful and blows it the whole time, they’re not coming on the next trip. A good way to keep group morale high is by establishing who will be the punching bag—it’s a normal group mentality to pick on the runt. It can be whoever brought the biggest bag, the last person to the van every morning or the rider who orders an extra to-go meal at dinner!
Despite the clear skies, there was a 100 percent chance of switch hurricanes in the Midwest—Van Vark made sure of that
Gage Boyle front blunts in his finest Heath fit
No stranger to the drop-down boardslide, Mason goes off in Iowa
Jay Thorpe, Brixton TM 2009-2010, Baker Boys TM 2011-Present
Pick your crew depending on how they travel together. I’m not going to send just anybody on a trip with Kirby, Pedro and Foy because they want to go to all the gnarliest stuff and not everyone wants to skate stuff like that. Make sure everybody gets a bed—we’re skating, we’re working and everyone needs to sleep good and eat good, too. Keep everyone together. I don’t like when people start to spread out. I recommend that riders don’t start cracking beers until later in the afternoon, but I’m not going to tell anyone they can’t drink. But let’s get some shit and have a good day, and then if people want to start indulging in the beers later, we’re all good. You have to be able to say no to certain things. Obviously, you’re friends with everyone but they have to know that we’re on a trip for a reason—we’re getting stuff done so that we can keep these missions going. You have to be stern and stand your ground. I know it’s about the skaters but we all have to work together.
Front hurricane after Foy cut the kink. Praman can hang with the best of 'em
“Scuba” Steve Chalme, éS TM 2006-2010, Nike TM 2010-Present
You have to make sure riders do their job and help them get everything they need to do that. Take care of them, get ’em product and make sure they’re being productive. Basically, help them live out their dreams. Realize that everyone is a person and they’re not just skaters in a van. Do your best, try your hardest but remember to take care of yourself, too. Respect the skaters and they’ll respect you back. And if they’re not cool or nice back to you, then at least you can live knowing that you did your job. Don’t take anything too personally.
Patrick Praman, front crooks at an old Malto haunt. Let the kid hit snooze a few times
Gage gets it done with a big-league back lip
Fakie ollie in KC, nothing's too gnarly for SOTY 2020
Malto happened to be in KC when we rolled through and he jumped in the van (and onto the rails) for the remainder of the trip—backside overcrooks
Sam Smyth, Crailtap TM 1999-Present
Overall, patience is key. You’re always waiting on something or somebody. Not worrying about when you’re going to get somewhere is important. On long drives, I’ll stop whenever anyone needs to because I want to stretch my legs, too. Carroll had a different philosophy—he used to buy 12 of the big mouth Gatorades, dump them out and was like, We’re not stopping. Everyone is pissing in bottles. Team Management is like cattle herding. You have to watch for the one that wanders off and you have to steer them back to the crew. Someone will be like, I’m going to go get a coffee, and you have to say, "You know what? I’ll go get coffee for everyone—you stay here." Build off-days into a trip if you can. If you’re in the Midwest or Northwest, you’re always looking for a river. Jumping into a body of water is always a good recharge. Be aware of burning people out on long trips. We rarely skate at night now. We used to bring generators to fuckin’ Europe! We were really serious about skating all night. We would go until 3 AM, and then meet back at the van at 10 AM and do it all over again. It would get insane!
Backside 50-50 pop over, he ain't stopping either
Mason hucks a heelflip while a tweaker lounges in the mountain. Never know what the streets are gonna hold
Karl Watson, Organica TM 2002-2015, adidas TM 2018-Present, Maxallure TM 2018-Present
You need to establish some kind of authority or the trip will go to hell. You have to be willing to say no at times and be willing to put your foot down. Don’t spend too much money on dinners. If people want to buy alcohol they have to put it on their own tab. I like to keep the drinking in the van to a minimum, too. Keep the van clean and throw away your trash. Always be as prepared as possible. Bring tons of shirts that’ll stay in the van and—guess what? You’re going to have tons of skaters wearing the company’s product! Also bring extra griptape and tools. Everybody needs those things. If you want to go above and beyond, bring Bondo, a rub brick and spray paint. Maybe you’ll come across someone who will let you skate a spot if you repaint it afterwards. You never know!
Ollie over to nosegrind—Mason’s never not getting the job done
Like he was never there...
Feeble across and down, Jack Olson slices into the Heart of America
John Alden, DLX TM 2007-Present
It’s good to have a tour guide on the ground wherever you’re going—a local filmer is usually your best bet. A good guide can make or break a trip. We used to do plenty of Antihero trips where we had no guide and would just make it fuckin’ happen. We would freestyle everything, not knowing any spots, just driving around and finding shit. Those were different times, though. The trips were rad and we would get tons of shit, but stuff is a little more structured now. Riders want to see a photo of a spot on the phone before we even go to it. That definitely didn’t use to exist. The digital spot book changed trips a lot. Always come prepared. Those little things you bring will go a long way—a roll of duct tape, little metal plates to tape over cracks, razor blades, a skate tool, I’ve even brought a machete on trips and it came in handy immediately. I’ve flown all over with a cooler—you fill it with griptape, shirts and tools. You check that on the plane, then when you arrive you unload the gear and then you already have a cooler on the trip.
Jack tailslides into the crustiest Midwestern landing we could find. This is how you get invited on the next mission
12/24/2023Once the decision is made, the only thing left is one big ol’ bash in The City to cap the year off right. Karl Watson came through for the official handoff along with a host of A-listers from Primitive, adidas and our home turf. Couldn’t get in the door? Catch it all here.
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