Earl Pote Interview

Today we’re kicking off a multi-part interview series, with none other than the two guys working behind the scenes here at AllPogo interviewing each other. First off, i’ll be interviewing a man who plays a lot of different roles in the world of pogoing. He’s a tech pogoing champion, a pogo modding mastermind, a general pogo historian, and one of the most innovative riders our sport has seen. Check out my interview with the legendary Earl Pote below!

Of course, we have to start with the basics.

Ryan: What year did you start pogoing, and how old were you?

     Earl: I started pogoing in 2002, I was 12 years old.

Ryan: How did you discover the sport?

    Earl: Bryan Pognant and I were childhood friends, we went to a carnival together when we very young with his mom. We saw an abandoned bottom spring pogo leaning up against the fence of a ferris wheel and devised a plan to steal it. Once we had it, we tried screwing around with tricks we thought we made up. We later logged onto the internet via AOL dial-up and looked it up on ask jeeves (lol) and stumbled across a primitive Xpogo.com, and the rest is history.

Ryan: Who were some of your influences when you started, as well as some of your favorite videos that inspired you?

    Earl: I looked up to Fred Grzybowski like crazy. I would watch his videos over and over and study them. I  was also influenced a lot by Nick McClintock and Dave Armstrong. One of the first videos I saw was (I think) the Chicago pogo video with Matt Malcolm, Rick Gorge, and Joe Verzal. I always watched McClintock’s early pogo videos and I still truly enjoy those to this day and watch them often.

Ryan: You created the Pogo Cult early on. Who was part of that group, and which PC video do you like the most?

    Earl: Bryan and I both created the Pogo Cult and had roughly the same idea at the same time. There were members here and there that didnt stick around, but the true Pogo Cult was myself, Bryan Pognant, and Pat Groark. My favorite video is by far Pogo Cult 3. It doesnt look like much now, but when that video came out, it was absolutely groundbreaking, mainly due to Bryan’s part.

And now for some more unique questions.

Ryan: Your name is now synonymous with tech riding, and the community as a whole seems to generally view you as the top tech rider. Did you have that goal in mind when you started pogoing?

    Earl: Not really. When I started pogoing I just wanted to get to the level of the original Team Xpogo (which would be laughable in this day and age). Later on, in like the mid 2000’s I started realizing that for whatever reason I picked up on Tech really easy and was really good at it naturally, and it was at that point that I wanted to be the top guy.

Ryan: You were around for some of pogoings first important moments. Do you have any memories you would like to share from the early days?

    Earl: The race to landing the first stickflip is a great memory of mine. Everyone on the Xpogo forums was obsessed with this trick and with some real close calls/bails, it was obvious that it was actually achievable, whereas before it was just a fun trick to talk about that no one actually thought could be done. I was actually super close to landing the first one on a Motostik, but unfortunately at the time I could never commit myself to actually put my feet on, which I kick myself for to this day. Chewy landing the first backflip was crazy and opened everyones eyes to the potential that the sport truly had in the future. Seeing Fred land his first backflip (second ever) was crazy too because he was one of us, versus Chewy who just kinda rode a Flybar for fun.

Ryan: Did you start off with tech, or was that something you started working on later in your career?

    Earl: Well, when I started pogoing, big air pogo sticks didnt exist, so big air didnt exist. So yes I started on tech, but at that time it wasn’t really called tech, it was just called pogo sticking, haha. But, like everyone else pretty much, when big air sticks came out I ditched the spring stick and rode primarily big air for a while. I started really fooling around with Tech during the ridiculously cold Chicago winters. It hurt a lot less falling off of a tech stick in sub zero temperatures than it did big air sticks. So my routine year after year for a while was big air in the spring/summer/fall, and tech in the winter. That is the reason why I became so well rounded in my peak of pogoing.

Ryan: You have created so many new tricks throughout your time pogoing. Are there any that stand out to you as revolutionary tricks? If so, what was the process like when creating and landing them?

    Earl: As far as big air goes, I was one of a few who helped pioneer “tech air” especially in the spring time after doing a winter full of Tech. I was all about trying to combine multiple tricks into one air. For example, I landed the first ULBS late no foot peg grab. Im pretty sure that was one of the first ULBS late tricks, which is obviously revolutionary, as now we have tricks like scissorkicks, ulbs late wraparound/180 wraps, etc. as far as tech goes, I think it goes without saying that I pretty much laid down the foundation for what modern tech is. Tornado taps, ulbs taps, barspin taps, caspers, the list goes on and on of what I invented back in the day. The process of me creating tricks was always just thinking outside of the box, and just thinking all day (especially through school, lol) of what I could do that hasnt been done before. Landing them was im sure just like everyone else trying new tricks, trial and error and sometimes trying hundreds of times to get it done.

Ryan: A lot of riders have bought custom pogo sticks from you. How did you start modifying sticks, and what makes your sticks unique compared to a regular stick?

    Earl: I started modifying pogo sticks almost immediately after I started pogoing. I was tired of buying and returning SBI Master’s from Toys R Us, and thought up ideas of making them stronger. The most notable being the reinforced shaft, that right there changed tech forever. My sticks that I sell right now are completely different than a stock super pogo. They are way stronger and just bounce way better, due to all the reinforcements and updated spring.

Ryan: Quickly after I started AllPogo, you messaged me about joining forces and becoming a part of the AllPogo staff. I am truly grateful, and that definitely helped fuel my fire to get the full website up and running. What made you want to help with AllPogo?

    Earl: The sport needed a home and resource to find useful information. For the last several years the only way you could really learn new tricks, trick names, pogo stick info, etc, was to join a facebook group, follow people on instagram, or watch pogo videos and ask a ton of questions. I had been thinking for a long time about starting a website, and it was just the perfect time to do so.

Ryan: What would you like to see in the future for AllPogo and AllPogo.com?

    Earl: I would definitely like to see a lot more content, especially AllPogo videos. Monthly articles, rider interviews, etc. would be sweet too.

To finish up this interview, here’s one final bonus question.

Ryan: What is your ideal vision for the trajectory of our sport? What kind of evolution would you like to see long-term?

    Earl: I have always struggled with this, and to be honest, i’m not too sure. On one hand, I think it would be cool if the sport blew up and you saw kids everywhere in skateparks pogoing. But on the other hand, I think its also cool that we are such a small niche community and we all pretty much know each other personally. I would definitely like to see more riders come in and take the sport to new levels, and luckily we do have quite a few that are doing that right now. Regardless of what happens I am truly impressed and proud of the younger generation and what they are doing with the sport.

Thanks again to Earl Pote for everything he has done for AllPogo, and our sport in general. Check us out next week for our next interview with Ryan O’Malley!