Threads of Connection - Simon Thorp of Young Guns Skate School


 

simon thorp of young guns skate schoolWe caught up with our good friend and long time VIC fam, Simon Thorp.

With finesse both on and off the skateboard, it comes as no surprise that he holds the prestigious title of "Your favourite NZSOTY's favourite NZSOTY." 

Simon has been the driving force behind Young Guns Skate School since its inception in 2010. Recently they've hit a massive milestone of over 5000 classes! 

We chat with the man himself about his love for the game and how he's inspiring the next generation of skaters through Young Guns Skate School.

Enjoy :)

 

Can you describe a typical day in the life of a skate school owner? 

Ok here’s what people think I do each day: Wake up 11am, go skate, go to one class a week, go home and watch skate videos. This was true 10 years ago.

Here’s what currently happens on an average day: Get up 7am. Make coffee, watch Bae Blade episodes with Lou and Aggie (my step kids). Drop em to school. 9 - 12pm, admin on admin.. it never ends. 12pm: go and run a lunchtime Skate Club. 2pm, lunch/admin. 3pm, arrive at an after school class. Teach tick tacks, Willy Flips, Ollies etc. Pack up. Try skate for 15 minutes until it’s dark. Go home, admin, dinner. Asleep on couch at 9pm. 

 

How did you first get into skateboarding, and what inspired you to start your own skate school?

When I was a kid me and Willy G used to skate at Tole St bowl on our fishtail’s. We could roll around it and tick tack, but we had no clue of what an ollie was. Come 96, I learned what an ollie is and started to notice a few cool looking kids on double kicked skateboards. I was fascinated. I learned how to ollie and it was all go from there. 

Fast forward to 2007, I picked up a sponsorship with Traffick under the eye of the legendary Justin Watene. He used to run skate holiday programmes, so I used to help him out there for a couple of years and work at Cheapskates/Traffick. Justin eventually handed me the keys to the holiday programmes at the cheapest price ever. After being broke for too long and seeing the popularity of the holiday classes grow, I had the idea to set up after school classes using a ramp and rail out of my Toyota Corolla. 

At around the same time, Justin being Justin, managed to link up some promo with the Disney Channel. Next minute, i’m flying back and forth to Aussie to film trick tip videos to be played during every single Ad break on the Disney Channel. At this point in time, every single human under the age of 12 watched the Disney Channel. I was now famous to anyone under 12 haha. And none of my friends knew about it cos they didn’t watch the Disney Channel. So it worked out great. (No one will ever see the trick tip videos ever again by the way…) haha. 

This was timed perfectly with the beginning of after school classes under the company name ’Skate School Ltd’ and 30 kids booked in for the first class at Ponsonby Intermediate in 2010. 

 simon thorp bs lip

Congratulations on reaching your 5000th class! Can you share a particularly memorable experience or achievement from running the skate school over the past decade?

Wyatt. For those who don’t know, Wyatt is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous skateboarder… (no disrespect to all the legends out there!) Wyatt was 1.5 year’s old when he started at our Pt Chevalier class and by the time he was 2, the videos of him skating on our social media networks had a massed hundred’s of millions of views around the world. He picked up a nappy sponsor with Treasures, he was being interviewed on live TV shows, by Russian, Chinese, British, Brazilian journalists, you name it. He had fans sending him gifts from around the world. He was getting paid and is still getting paid to this day! There is so much more to this story but that is the gist of it. Big thanks to Wyatt and his awesome family. Wyatt would be around 8 or 9 years old now and he has potentially retired from skateboarding, but that’s cool, kid’s will be kids. You’re a legend Wyatt.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you've faced in running a skate school, and how have you overcome them?

Skateboarding has always had a bit of an outcast image, especially so in the early days. At first, schools didn’t want a bar of us and it was quite hard to establish Skate School in schools. We only ran at 2-3 schools a week for like 4 years. I even had a school receptionist from a school in one of Auckland’s more affluent suburbs tell me that they don’t want their students to be associated with drug addicts and alcoholics hahaha. 

Another school receptionist wouldn’t let me talk to the principal of their school cos she didn’t like skateboarders. She didn’t realise that one of our loyal parents were on the school board at that school. The principal was told of this and called to apologise the next day. He then went on to mention that skateboarders aren’t allowed at their school and no we can’t run a class. Come 2023, this school now hosts one of our more popular classes and we now have to turn down many schools as our schedule is too full. Skateboarding is also viewed as one of the healthiest things a kid can do. 

Word of mouth is also very important, so by continuously doing a good job of running classes and having awesome instructors like Willy G, we started to get a really good rep. We battled through this stigma associated with skateboarding and we have come out the other side.


What do you hope your students will gain from taking classes at your skate school, both in terms of their skateboarding skills and their personal growth?

The main thing is to make sure kids are having fun. Skateboarding is all about having fun, so that is the most important thing for sure. From there, kids will progress, their confidence will flourish and they then learn valuable life skills like how to persevere and work hard to achieve. It’s really rewarding to see some of the shy nervous kids turn into the loudest kids in the class by the end of the term.

 

What is something that you are excited about in the upcoming year?

Gotta be careful what you make public these days! Haha. Peace. 

simon thorp of young guns skate school

Social & Website

@slythorp

@younggunsskateschool

younggunsskateschool.co.nz