"Hot Amateur Girl Action" Article
Okay, so you guys are the new crop of amateurs for the illustrious Girl Skateboard company. Let’s start with the basics—name, age, hometown and nickname, if you got one.
Niels Bennett: My name’s Niels Bennett, I’m 21 from Pensacola, FL, and these guys call me The Professor, I guess.
Tyler “Manchild” Pacheco: And Sidetrack.
Niels: I haven’t heard that one.
Why is he called The Professor?
Griffin Gass: He reads all the time.
Simon Bannerot: He’s an analyzer.
Manch: You never know what’s going on in his mind.
Simon: And he just, you know, disappears.
Sweetness in Seattle. ATV Simon Bannerot deserves a double scoop after this Indy over the channel at Marginal Way Photo: Hammeke
Manch: Tyler Pacheco, 22, Los Angeles, CA and fuckin’ Manchild.
How’d you get that nickname?
Manch: Cheese and Crackers. Yep. We had a little bowl and we were skating it. It was all the older guys and they were filming a video called Beer and Cigarettes and I was just a little kid skating with all of them and then somebody was, like,”You’re not a man; you’re a child.” And then someone’s, like, “He can skate; he’s a manchild.” It didn’t stick for a minute and then first skate trip I went on with all the OGs from my town, one of the dudes I had never met was, like, “Oh I remember you, Manchild,” and then the whole trip was set after that.
Griffin: I’m Griffin Gass, I’m from Seattle, WA, and I’m 21. No nickname.
Simon: I’m Simon Bannerot, 19, from Enumclaw, WA, south of Seattle. Yeah, I don’t really got a nickname. I guess they call me Simone. Si, but that’s my parents.
Ye olde hack Photo: Nicholas
What was your first exposure to skateboarding?
Simon: Driving from my sister’s gymnastics center when I was a little kid, my mom would drive right by the skatepark and I was just, like, What the fuck is that? I was just watching gymnastics all day and that shit’s cool but I ended up just going to the skatepark.
Griffin: I grew up in a neighborhood where there was a cul de sac and a bunch of older kids would just always skate out there. I saw it that way and was, like, Damn, that’s sick. But I didn’t really start skating until way later.
Manch: My brothers and I were just super into whatever we could get our hands on. I don’t even remember discovering a skateboard. It was just always biking, skateboarding, you know?
Niels: When my older sister was in kindergarten at the bus stop there was a kid who skated and I started to pick it up after that.
GX’er at heart, Manch hits the bricks in SF Photo: Palozzolo
What was your first real trick where you’re, like, Fuck, man, I’m doing it!?
Simon: I would be so scared to drop in to so many things but I always just wanted to drop in to something higher. I remember one time I didn’t drop in and my mom wanted to get me ice cream and I was so pissed that I didn’t drop in that I didn’t eat it. I was, like, I’m so pissed I can’t eat this ice cream. Then this guy came in—we were at a Baskin Robins—and he grabs the ice cream and takes a bite out of it and he’s, like, “Don’t worry; I broke the force field,” then he gave it back to me. I was, like, Dude, I’m not eating this ice cream now.
Griffin: Pressure flips. I couldn’t jump off my board for that long and land with both feet so I’d do no comply straight pressure heelflips. I don’t know; I just did those for a long time.
Manch: I think the best was just 180ing out of a curb cut. I couldn’t even ollie, I could just whip it. That was the sickest shit as a kid.
Niels: Would rolling down a ramp be a first? That was a lot of fun to me when I first could go fast down a little ramp.
Advanced ho-ho training with Biebel Photo: Nicholas
When you found out about pro skaters and all that stuff, who was your very first pro skater that you idolized?
Niels: I remember the first pro skater that I really liked was Jon Goeman from $lave. That was the first skater where I realized people have different styles. He’s sick.
Manch: Fuckin’ Tony Hawk! But then when I saw videos, like the first video I saw was Fulfill the Dream, so my faves were Steve Olson and Chad Muska.
Niels: I remember I’d watch skating and I didn’t even realize what was happening. I was watching all of these pro tricks but I couldn’t comprehend how hard anything actually was.
Manch: I would just see the name and be, like, That dude’s sick.
Griffin: This was before I had been exposed to a lot of skating, but Mike Vallely. ‘Cause he would always do bonelesses and no complies and that’s what I could do at that time. So I connected, I guess.
Simon: Dude, Tony Hawk. Same. I used to watch Tony Hawk’s Trick Tips on repeat.
Griffin: Oh, me too. I had the one with Bucky Lasek and Mike Vallely. That was where I saw it.
Simon: And then Appleyard. And after I met him I was, like, This dude’s so cool I have to research him. I only had two or three skate videos. I would get them every birthday or something so there was only a certain amount of skate videos I had—Osiris’ Feed the Need and the Mystery video.
Classic Girl tech on Ferg’s old stomping grounds. Front nose biggie from Bannerot Sequence: Nicholas
When did you realize there was Girl skateboards and who was the first Girl pro that you were aware of?
Niels: My first skate video I ever saw was Forecast with 15-year-old Mike Mo at the beginning of it. So definitely Mike Mo.
Manch: I don’t even know. Just saw Yeah Right! at my homie’s house and I was just, like, Right on! It was, like, What the fuck is this? All this slow-mo and everything, like, how good it was filmed by Ty and then the skaters that were in it and all the funny shit, Owen Wilson, it was all over the place. Even from the intro it’s, like, That’s fuckin’ homie shit; that’s skating!
Niels: You definitely believed Owen Wilson really did that trick.
Manch: Yeah, hell yeah.
Griffin: I believed that, for sure. To be honest, I thought he skated the whole time until now.
Niels: Oh geez.
Griffin: I knew there was a brand of Girl but I didn’t know until later, like, who’s on what team and all that.
Gap front blunt, then it’s off to stock the kale for Griffin Gass Photo: Papke
So here’s the big question: how did you guys get on the team? Who was first?
Manch: Me and Simon, same time. Griffin was first on the team.
Griffin: It’s been, like, four-and-a-half years. I got on March of 2014. That’s when I got the call from Sam.
The future’s so bright… Photo: Wickersham
Grittin, just skating and kickfliping a cutty double Photo: Greengage
But how did you get there? How did he even know who you were?
Griffin: I was just skating and filming and then rode for a shop in Palm Springs called Epidemic and then the owner sent my video to a rep and then the rep sent it to him and then he called me, which was sick.
Manch: There’s two ways I got on: One, being Stevie’s homie. I moved out of Santa Clarita to North Hollywood with my grandparents. I was living there and I was skating these red curbs in front of Foot Locker and Stevie pulled up and was, like, “Yo, what’s up, man? It’s been a minute.” Then he’s all “Yo, I live two blocks away. Let’s start skating.” So I started skating with Stevie. I was skating for Vans so I had to go show Cody Green some footage. Daniel Wheatley was there and Wheatley hit me up a few weeks later and got me boards. So that was the start, and then I was just chilling, I didn’t really film or nothing I was just like, Fuck it, I’m flow. I’m just stoked to get boards. Then I was in New York with the GX dudes and my friend Casey, who works at Val Surf, shows up and he’s, like, “I’m on that Stay Flared trip.” So I was, like, “I don’t skate for Lakai but I skate for Girl and Wheatley actually sent me a pair of Lakais in the Girl box.” So I hit up Wheatley, like, “Yo, I gotta buy a plane ticket home, you guys are driving back, I’ll just pay my way if anything and I’ll meet up with you guys.” And, dude, he didn’t tell anybody I was meeting up. I skated a demo and then Smyth and them were, like, “Yeah, you can come.” Mike was sleeping in the back and he wakes up and I’m like Fuck, now I’ve got to introduce myself. It’s all awkward, you know? So I turn around and I’m, like, “Hey, what’s up, man? I’m Tyler.” And he’s, like, “Where did you come from?” It was insane. Biebel and Herman were buying my food the whole fuckin’ way home cause I ran out of money. Everybody got me through that trip, man. It was cool. Meeting all your idols and then you’re just stuck with them.
Simon: I was just skating a bunch and filming with my friends and then my buddy Kevin sent it to the shop, then the shop sent it to the other shops, 35th Ave and 35th North and I think Dave texted somebody and I remember at the time Toy Machine also hit me up. It was kind of crazy ’cause I took Chocolate around for King of the Road and that’s how we all met up. Sam was there. It was sick, and then I took them to Garfield and the whole Toy Machine team was there. And Mike Sinclair had sent me a box and I skated those boards and the Girl boards at the same time ’cause I didn’t know what to do. I liked Toy Machine but I also liked Girl, you know? So I talked with my buddy Dave who owns the skateshop and kind of got down to Earth with him for a little bit. So we ran into the Toy Machine team at Garfield and I’m just sitting there like Oh fuck. It was funny, but Sam was, like, “Yo, you’re on our team, fool.” But no offense. Sinclair is the best. Sorry it got awkward there.
Niels: I got on September of 2015. I was skating an adidas contest at everyone’s favorite indoor training facility and Daniel Wheatley saw me skating with all his friends from Orlando. So that maybe helped. Yeah, Daniel hooked it up
The Professor has a PhD in wallrides. Quick-up jammer by Dr. Niels Bennett Photo: Taketomo
So you guys are amateurs. That means you’re not pro; you’re not getting the big checks. Do you guys have to work a real job right now?
Griffin: Yeah, I work at Whole Foods. I have work at ten tonight.
Niels: I do things here and there. There’s a lemonade stand that does concession at music festivals. I do that with my roommate Chad sometimes.
Manch: I’m fuckin’ chilling. Making by with what I got.
Manch with a nollie V flip at Keenan’s spot Photo: Seidler
What’s your job as a Girl am? What are your responsibilities?
Manch: Homie mode. Engage. Fuck, I don’t even feel like I have a responsibility, I just gotta do me. The way I see it you get put onto a company for your skateboarding so as long as you’re skateboarding, that’s it. Skateboarding will just provide it all. That was a shitty way to put it, but yeah.
Do you guys feel pressure to engage in social-media stuff? Is that part of your job?
Simon: Ah, I kind of gave up on that shit just the other day.
Manch: Simon inspired me to delete it. Delete the app.
Simon: Leave the account; delete the app.
Griffin, feeling right on a front blunt flip out into the bank Sequence: Nicholas
Where do you draw the line on sponsors? Would you do an energy drink?
Manch: All of it!
Neils: I wouldn’t endorse anything that’s bad for kids.
Manch: Nicotine, beer sponsor—if you take me to the strip club and pay me I will skate for you! That’s what’s up. Red Bull, any of you guys.
Griffin: I don’t know; it depends. Just see where it comes. If it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it.
Simon: I don’t know. Maybe if someone sat me down and told me I had to use my phone a lot every day for the job I’d probably draw the line there.
I know you guys have all taken some bumps and bruises over the years but can we talk about your heinous injury in the last year Simon?
Simon: Yeah. Me and my sister got in a car crash and it was pretty bad. She’s alright, I’m alright now but yeah, it was pretty life changing. I broke a bunch of parts of my pelvis and chipped my spine. I don’t know. Shit was heavy but it changed my life kinda.
Looks like his spine healed up just fine—Simon, healthy tuck knee Photo: Nicholas
How does it make you feel about your health and security of life?
Simon: It puts a better image on life. It was pretty gnarly. We were under a car, like, our car was smashed. It’s pretty insane that we got out alive. So I’m happy throughout the whole thing and that’s how you gotta be your whole life.
Griffin: I was tripping on that, too. I remember talking to him when he was still recovering and he had the best vibes the whole time.
Manch: Yo, that shit was crazy getting that call.
Simon: You’re the first guy I called! I couldn’t get my phone on for three days. I had tubes coming out of me and I didn’t get surgery for the first two days. I was kind of crazy for the first two days. Then I finally got it going and I’m like I gotta call Manchild and tell him that I’m alright.
Manch: That was one of the wildest phone calls I ever got.
Water hazard Photo: Papke
Were you nervous to start skating again?
Simon: I don’t know, dude. I kinda learned my body in a whole new way. It’s pretty crazy. I was going through physical therapy and was in a wheelchair for two-and-a-half months and then I was crutching for the rest of that month. Then I went to the doctor and they told me I could start trying to walk.
Manch: We made a Girl trip and went to visit you.
Simon: That was so sick! You were pushing me around in my yard and I’m just chillin’. You’re like Oh fuck, there’s a big-ass pothole! I almost got dipped. My friends would pick me up and I would go out with them in the wheelchair and that shit was gnarly. When I look back on it I should not have gone out with you guys.
Manch: He would be on the session, just kicking it.
Simon: Yeah, but I would have tripped if you guys left the house without me.
Manch: I was looking at footage during that trip and I was, like, Wait, was Simon hurt?
Simon: Yeah, but stepping on the board was scary, dude. That’s the moral of the story. I stepped on it and I just rolled around but I was like If I get wheel bite right now I don’t have the fast enough motion to to step off my front foot. ‘Cause it’s my right pelvis zone. So it was kind of scary but I remember I went over to my buddy’s house and pushed the limits one day. I couldn’t skate for a long time, but I was finally walking. I was feeling really good, trying to run up hills. And then I was bombing some hills with my buddy. I was just going so fast that I knew I couldn’t run out but we made it to the bottom and it was all good. Dude, that shit was sick, though. It’s good to learn your body, I think. I have to stretch a lot more but it’s good.
Simon: It’s had a positive outcome, I think.
That’s some heavy stuff. Let’s get back to the bullshit. Where’s the weirdest place you ever took a shit?
Manch: These are some King of the Road questions. Fuck that shit.
Niels, A gazebo is a pretty weird place for a nosegrind Photo: Papke
Didn’t you take a shit in the van, Niels?
Niels: No. Accidentally maybe once. Manchild where’s the craziest place you ever shit?
Manch: You shitted or you sharted? There’s a big difference. In the van?
Niels: No, I’ve never shit in the van.
Manch: You’ve sharted in the van.
Niels: That’s a different question. That’s not what he asked. Weirdest place I ever shit was probably in the forest.
Scientific discoveries. Fakie biggie boardslide fakie from The Professor Sequence: Wickersham
What about you Manch?
Manch: Shit or shart?
Either one. It’s the same thing.
Niels: I was gonna tell a little side story. I think it was Robert Neal. He was at a skate spot, shitting on the side of a house and someone came up with a shotgun in his face or something and told him to leave. He was mid-shit, I think.
Manch: Did you learn that on Slap?
Niels: No, I heard that in the streets of LA. The streets talk out here.
Griffin: The streets do talk; that’s true.
Which would you rather have: Biebel’s muscles or Biebel’s grill?
Niels: Grill. Muscles, I can’t skate like that for sure. I could not skate with Biebel’s muscles.
Simon: That’s a hard one.
Manch: I would do the fuckin’ muscles, dog. Fuck it. If nobody else wants them I’ll take them.
Griffin: I would probably take the pearly whites.
Simon: Shit, maybe the muscles ’cause then you could just handstand all the way down the street. I’ve seen him do amazing workouts. Every morning at fuckin’ McCranks’s house he was doing crazy shit.
Simon: He worked out with Sluggo. That shit was sick, dude. Sluggo’s the man.
Niels, Over the barrier, noseslide to grate ride. Great ride! Photo: Papke
Who of the am team would you let date one of your sisters?
Manch: That’s fucked up.
Niels: Out of these guys?
Manch: I wanna date Simon’s sister.
Griffin: I was thinking the same thing.
Manch: But that’s my brother! I can’t date my sister.
Griffin gasses a kickflip wallride, King Kong style Photo: Greengage
Who would you let go on a date with your sister?
Simon: Fuck, probably Niels. She could get down with The Professor.
Niels: I was gonna say Simon. We got our backs.
Manch: Do you know his sister?
Niels: Yes, I know his sister. Sorry.
Manch: I don’t date homie’s sisters.
Who’s in your corner in a fight?
Manch: I’m gonna probably say Griff!
Griffin: I feel like Manch would just go nuts. He’s like a Tasmanian devil sometimes.
Simon: I’m a black belt.
Neils: Simon’s in my corner.
Griffin: See, I feel like you two would be more strategic about it. I fell like we’d just run in there.
Manch: We’re like the King Kongs.
Manch, who would you let take care of your dog?
Manch: Simon. He lives on a farm.
If you could steal any trick from one of these dudes, what would you steal?
Simon: Probably Manchild’s nollie backside flips or switch trés like Niels or Griffin.
Manch: that’s how I always get you in games of SKATE.
Simon: You always get me with the nollie backside flip. I’m struggling. But yeah, switch trés like Niels or Griffin.
Griffin: Simon’s backside airs.
Niels: You stole mine. I was gonna say the same thing: Simon’s backside airs.
Manch: Okay, but for real, though, I would do Simon’s eggplants because that shit is sick and it’s like Gonz. I mean, I’m sorry, I don’t pay attention to much handplanting, I just pay attention to the way Gonz does it and then my homie can do it. It just makes me like, Fuck, that looks so fun.
Griffin might not be the smartest, but his nollie inward heels are pretty sharp Photo: Greengage
Which one of you has the most book smarts?
Griffin: The Professor.
Simon: He’s The fuckin’ Professor. He will tell you seven books right now.
Niels: No I won’t.
Manch: Dude, I’ve read like three books in my life, man. Since Niels has been on the team I’ve had this book and I haven’t finished it yet.
Who’s got the most street smarts on the couch?
Niels: Yeah, Manchild, for sure.
Manch: Alright, alright.
Manchild finds a grind with a little help from his friends Photo: Adams
Who’s got the best game with the ladies?
Manch: I would say Griffin and Simon are a heavy tie.
Niels: I think it’s Griffin, definitely Griffin.
This is never gonna happen to you guys, but in general, what’s a reason to kick a fool off the team?
Niels: For Mike Carroll it’s anything. He always says, “People have been kicked off for less.”
Griffin: That one’s been going around a lot.
Manch: I would say you’re not getting put on if you’re getting kicked off. It’s like a group of friends, like would you ever kick your friend out of a group?
What do your parents think of your lifestyle?
Simon: My parents think I’m doing a good job. I’m just having fun doing what I do and I love them and they love me so we keep it going.
Griffin: I feel the same way, definitely. They’re supportive. My mom more than my dad. He just wanted me to be in a team sport, but I didn’t like the idea of relying on that. Skating is a team sport, just differently. It’s way more fun.
Simon: It is different ’cause they don’t completely understand everything about it, you know?
Manch: That’s how I feel. My parents are supportive but they look at it as like Why aren’t you skating the biggest contests? Why aren’t you out there with Nyjah and P-Rod?
Simon: They know what’s up, dude, if they’re letting you do whatever you’re doing.
Manch: I know that, but they don’t understand. They’re just, like, “Why aren’t you making the Nyjah Huston money?” I’m, like, “Mom, that shit is never gonna happen, I’m just gonna do me and film with my homies and make do with what I’ve got.” That’s the funny shit about it—explaining it to your parents. They don’t get all the sides of skating.
What about you, Niels? What do your parents think of your lifestyle?
Niels: My parents like that I travel a lot. Being a skateboarder, you get to travel so much, so my parents like that about it. My parents really like that I’m getting to experience all these things.
Griffin, front blunt transfer to pull the ripcord Photo: Papke
How important is turning pro for Girl skateboards to you guys?
Manch: Not important at all.
It’s not a goal?
Manch: No. I mean, I already know Mike; I already know Rick; I already know Chico and Kenny and everybody. Shit, I’m already pro in my mind! I know everybody on the team! I don’t look at it like that. Yonnie went pro and that’s my fuckin’ homie. When he first went pro I was like What?! Then two months later it’s like he’s my normal homie I kick it with. But it’s amazing. I was psyched when he went pro. ’Cause everyone else I knew was on the fuckin team, It’s just like Wow, we’re all a part of this awesome fuckin’ company. No matter how far it’s gone it’s just great to be a part of it. I’ve always looked up to it and I’ll always hold it high in my heart.
Griffin: Exactly. It’s family.
Flow? Pro? Griffin edges one step closer with this heavy wallride down La Cañada’s storied steps Photo: Papke
Who’s turning pro first?
Manch: All of us.
Simon: Everyone at the same time.
Manch: Like I said, in my mind we’re all pro. We’re all skating for Girl. I still have the same feeling being an am as I did being flow. I can only imagine if I went pro I’d just be like Fuck, okay, cool. Now I get my own graphics, which is awesome. It’s cool to contribute to your graphics but it’s all just skateboarding, man.
Simon: You can’t look at that shit or else you get fucked up.
Niels: Every stage is important. It’s like video parts. I feel like every video part is influenced by what music you’re listening to at the time, what movies you’re into. I think it all comes out in your part.
Simon: And if you produce them like that then it’s gonna show a perfect timeline. But that’s gotta happen naturally, you can’t force it.
Griffin: You gotta have fun and not think too hard about it because if you do things for the right reasons good things happen.
Manch: I think in this day and age if you get anything for free through skateboarding you are doing great.
Switch pole jam 180, Tyler goes pro in his own mind. Yeah, Manch! Photo: Palozzolo
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