Earl Pote: 18 Years

The year was 2002, I was only 12 years old. My newly acquainted best friend, Bryan Pognant, and I went to an Irish Fest together with his family. We saw a pogo stick abandoned by a ferris wheel, devised a plan to make it ours and made it happen. I still remember that day clearly, even though it was 18 years ago. Bryan and I were passing it back and forth in the parking lot seeing who could get the most jumps or who could jump with one hand or one foot.

Later that day when we got home, we logged onto the internet via AOL Dial-Up internet and searched Ask Jeeves (lol) for like-minded individuals that may think of a pogo stick as more than just a toy. We stumbled across xpogo.com. At the time the website was in its early infancy stage with only a handful of regular users. We signed up for the forums and were greeted by legends like Dave Armstrong, Nick McClintock and Fred Grzybowski. Back then we were always excited when someone new joined the forums, because it happened so rarely. We talked about the future of the sport, topics like “Will a Backflip ever be done” and “How do we go higher?” Remind you, this was a time before big air pogo sticks existed and the Gravity Games; the first pogo stick ever made for the sport, was just released a year prior.

Nick McClintock, Fred Grzybowski, Bryan Pognant, Matt Malcolm, and I, 2009

A year or so later Bryan and I created the Pogo Cult; A team based around hard rock music, dark clothing, long hair and not giving a fuck. We did this mainly to distinguish ourselves from the other two established teams: Team Xpogo and The Pogo Squad. We focused primarily on street, which was incredibly undeveloped and untouched at that time. We were going to local skateparks and grinding rails and ledges and jumping gaps and stairsets. Before releasing our first edit in 2004, we shared media primarily through temporary video hosting sites, like yousendit, on the forums. This was a time before websites like youtube and vimeo existed. By the time Pogo Cult 3 rolled around (2006) the web had advanced a bit, but it still ended up being hosted by xpogo.com, and a few months later was put on Youtube. This video was, by far, our biggest contribution to the sport at the time. There are a number of tricks that we did that had never been done before, in addition to pushing what was possible in street at the time (i.e. Bryan’s first ever handrail grind, my huge Motostik gap).

The Pogo Cult separated not long after PC3 and we all went on our own individual paths. I began experimenting with Tech-Air primarily in the mid-late 2000’s and also started to get more into flatland Tech. Living in Chicago, winters got extremely rough. Doing Big Air in the winter when its zero degrees out was difficult and painful, and this is why I started getting into Tech. Year after year I would do primarily Tech in the cold season and then Big Air when it was warm out. Tech at the time had been untouched for many years and was very under developed. I took the opportunity to push what was possible on a Tech stick and released the first footage of this in my Technical Difficulty videos (circa 2008). Then a few years later, I released what I consider to be my best video i’ve ever released, Blue Lips (2011), and it took the community by surprise. It has been considered as the greatest pogo video ever made by many and although I dont believe thats the case, I have always been incredibly proud of it.

A few years after the release of Blue Lips, I joined the Air Force (2013), and videos/pogoing took a halt for a while as I got situated in the military. Eventually, I got back in the swing of things, and started filming/pogoing again. This was a difficult task as I was working a more than full time job and would get off work and go pogo. But, I noticed that my body was getting progressively more damaged. Basic Training (boot camp) alongside all the daily challenges of being an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force and being an active pogoer were catching up fast with me. I began noticing increasing pain in my right knee, right wrist, back and left hip. In 2016 I took a fall while doing a front flip and fractured my T12 vertebrae, which still to this day gives me chronic pain. My wrist and knee pain were increasing dramatically as well. On July 31st, 2018, I underwent hip surgery to fix a torn labrum, but what they ended up finding and fixing when they opened me up was much more than just that. This includes a cam deformity (where they had to grind down my femur bone), larger than expected labral tear, arthritis, bone spurs and they had to lengthen a tendon that was incredibly tight from overuse. When I woke up from surgery, the surgeon said he couldn’t believe how damaged my hip was at just 28 years old.

My first deployment in the Air Force was to Al Udeid, Qatar in 2015. I brought my GG with me and jumped after I would get off of my 12 hour shifts in the 120 degree heat.

A short time before my surgery, I reached out to Ryan O’Malley as he was launching his new Instagram project, AllPogo. I explained to him that I have had an idea for a while that involved giving the sport a new home via an all new web address with all the resources you would ever need to learn about the sport, and as it turns out, he had that same exact idea. When Ryan and I first started pogoing, xpogo.com was a website that we went to multiple times a day to research the sport and learn everything we possibly could to become better at it. Nowadays, the only way any new pogoer can learn anything about the sport is by going on Facebook and joining Pogo Chat and asking questions. Ryan and I agreed to partner up and collaborate ideas for AllPogo and how we would be the new voice for the sport of pogo. This has greatly helped me pour my energy into and stay involved with the sport.

Fast forward two years after my hip surgery, its obvious the surgery did not do what I had hoped. In fact, my hip is actually worse than it was before surgery. In addition to my non stop hip issues, I am plagued with a bad knee, wrist, and back. Although it is very hard to accept and its something I have battled in my head for many years, its finally time to accept that I am no longer physically capable of continuing on in this sport. When I was a young kid and first started pogoing, I told myself I would at least make it to 30 still jumping, and I kept that promise to myself… barely.

I have devoted 18 years of my life and my body to pogoing. I filmed the most solo videos out of anyone in the entire sport (14) as well as countless team edits, random quick edits, features, etc. I have invented an incredible amount of tricks and pushed Tech in its entirety. I took pride in my ability to front/backflip a Vurtego, step off, nail a Tornado Tap on a GG, jump some of the biggest stairsets/gaps in the game, and then grind some rails. I can honestly use the expression that I put blood, sweat and tears into this sport and I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished in that time. I am proud to say that I was pushing the sport and landing new tricks up until the day I decided I could no longer pogo. I never slowed down, I was always trying to push the sport with new tricks, and I think that is how I screwed my body up so much. I believe my videos and style of pogoing will live on forever and that gives me great comfort in saying goodbye. But I promise this, I will never completely leave the pogo community. I will do everything I can to help the sport behind the scenes like I am currently doing with AllPogo. I look forward to standing back and watching the new generation of pogoers take this sport to the next level, just as I did at the beginning of my pogo journey.

“Blue Lips” 2011
My final pogo video, “Earl Pote 2018”

For more of my content, head to: https://www.youtube.com/user/EarlPote