Today we share part two of our interview seriews with our AllPogo staff. Check out the interview with AllPogo creator Ryan O’Malley below!
Earl: What year did you start pogoing, and how old were you?
Ryan: I started in the summer before my freshman year of High School, so that would be 2006 I believe, making me right around 15 years old. If my math is correct.
Earl: How did you discover the sport?
Ryan: My pogoing history is an interesting one. My first memories were hanging out with Nick Ryan at his parent’s house, which was right across the road from my grandparent’s house, where I spent a lot of my childhood. Nick had a Pogo-Roo, the pogo stick with the built-in counter. We used it often, and even thought, like many, that we created a new sport. We “invented” a dozen or so tricks, but the only one I remember was the drummer boy, which was no handed bouncing while drumming on the frame. Very creative! I even remember my first real bail. I tried to jump the entire length of one square of Nick’s driveway. I landed on the other side, clearing the square, but I was leaning back much too far. I slipped out, and slammed my head. The first of many!
A few months later, I was at a goodwill with my mom. I saw a Razor Airgo, and I HAD to have it. My mom said no, and continued shopping. I wouldn’t stop talking about the pogo stick and how Nick and I could use it for our sport. I even went so far as telling my mom that the Airgo was the pogo ALL of the pros used. I didn’t even know there were pros. In reality, I had seen the Airgo on a Razor DVD I received with a classic kick scooter and assumed they were pro pogoers. My mom was finally convinced. She bought me the Airgo, and changed my life that day. After a little while, it fell behind a Razor scooter phase, until just another summer day, back at Nick’s parent’s house again…
I remember it vividly. We were inside, out of the Florida heat, and browsing the front page of Myspace.com, where they would feature numerous videos every day. On that day, they featured Fred Gryzbowski’s pogo video, and we devoured it. We broke down every trick, and immediately went outside to try what we had seen. That evening, I went home and dug up my Airgo, and found the Xpogo Forums. That was the official beginning of my pogo career, in my opinion. Everything before that was precursory. The photo below is the first pogo I still have, which was probably a few weeks after watching that video with Nick. We started practicing by jumping the small set of stairs in his parent’s house.
Earl: Who were some of your influences when you started, as well as some of your favorite videos that inspired you?
Ryan: After I found the sport and Xpogo, I spent a lot of time watching as many videos as I could, and reading everything online. When I was younger, if I got into something, I really got into it. I started out watching all of Fred’s videos, and then Nick McClintock’s, Pogo Cult, and Michael Mena’s videos. After a while, I started finding videos of Brian Spencer riding the Vurtego prototypes and that looked like the most fun possible. I was hooked on tricks, but soaring up onto small buildings and ledges looked like the best thing imaginable.
After pogoing for a few months, I found out that Michael Mena lived only a few hours from me, and another former pogoer, Justin Iannello, lived even closer. We organized a small meet-up at a local skate park. That day was my first time seeing some of the crazy tricks in person. Justin landed a tuck reverse for me in person. I think that might be one of the reasons I love them so much. Haha. I gained a lot of inspiration from that one meet up alone.
Earl: When was Team Hyper Pogo formed, and who all was in it?
Ryan: Unfortunately I don’t really remember the exact time it was created, but I’m going to go with 2007. THP 1 was released in June of 2007, so I’m going to assume we formed it earlier in the year. THP started out with Myself and Nick Ryan as the creators. Soon after we added Michael Mena, as we had met with him a few times by that point. Another Bradenton kid, Kevin Nunley, found me online shortly after, and we met up for him to give pogoing a try. He got pretty good and he and I developed a friendship, so he hopped on board just in time for filming to begin. We also gained one of my neighbors, Kodey Caliri, who had somehow talked his parents into buying the group’s first big air stick, a Flybar 1200. Last but not least, my little brother Sean O’Malley would sometimes come pogoing with us, so we included him in the team video and roster.
THP would go on to pick up Tone Staubs, who lived about 45 minutes from me, then Taylor Blaylock, a childhood friend of mine who had seen us pogoing and decided to give it a shot. He was landing No Foot Peg Grabs on his first day, so we had to have him. Finally, Jake Fagliarone jumped on the scene and we met with him and scooped him up for our roster. Throughout the years the original lineup would lose a few members, eventually settling with the core group of Myself, Nick Ryan, Michael Mena, Tone Staubs, Jake Fagliarone, and Taylor Blaylock.
Earl: Ever since you started pogoing, you had quite a different style than everyone else. I’d even say you were a huge part of pioneering Tech Air. Why and how do you believe you got so involved in Tech Air, what drew you to it?
Ryan: I never really thought I would go for some of the crazier big air tricks that I have landed. I originally just wanted to bounce, and to be able to do a couple cool tricks. After a while, I realized I was always hurting myself if I went too big, so I started focusing more on the tricks that were lower to the ground with quick movements. I consider myself a pretty nimble guy so I was able to do what I needed to do quickly in the air.
Earl: What are some of your current favorite videos/riders and why?
Ryan: There’s a ton of riders that I love watching right now, but I have to go with my boy Tone Staubs. In my opinion, he is probably one of the most innovative riders right now, and always has been. He and I grew up together in this sport, and I still see him create brand new tricks every day, literally. His grinding is top notch, plus his editing is very good as well. He also seems to release 10x as much as everyone else, so there’s major props there. haha
Earl: You’ve had a lot of attention on TV as well as social media. Can you talk a little about some of your favorite appearances, whether it be TV or websites, etc.
Ryan: I have done a lot of shit. Haha. I would say one of my coolest moments would be when I was featured on the Official Instagram account, with over 350 million followers. They do these weekly themed competitions, with a few being chosen to be reposted. One weekend I was with some of the Xpogo guys in Bangor, Maine, doing a gig, and the competition theme for that weekend was Talent Show. So I grabbed a quick clip, it took a few attempts, but wasn’t anything insane. I posted it with a good caption and the chosen hashtag, and received a DM a few days later. Their single post got me a ton of new followers, and a headphone company sent me a sweet pair of headphones. Lol
Another funny story. Obviously I have had a lot of viral videos. One time I had a film crew fly in from Japan to my parents house. They interviewed me, having me speak in japanese, which I have never done. They then had me pogo for about 8 minutes. After all that, they pet my dog for 30 minutes. Like longer than the broken-language interview and pogo film sesh combined. They loved the dog. Then they handed 17-year-old me a check for $3k, more money than I had ever had in my life. I saw the interview one time, and I have since lost it. Darn.
Earl: What are your future plans for the sport, whether it be riding and/or staying involved?
Ryan: From here on out with my riding, I am going to just get weird and do anything I want. In the past I was so concerned with stringing together some new combo, or nailing some weird new trick, and I would sesh for hours and get pissed. In the Florida sun, that gets exhausting. As I got older, and started a family, I needed to slow down with that, so I started caring less about what I post on Instagram and more about just having fun. So that’s probably all I will be doing in this sport from here on. As for staying involved, I feel like i’ll always be around in some sort. I see all the old skaters on instagram and they are still posting and being recognized, so even if i’m just some old guy popping in and commenting on a new pogoer’s video, I think i’ll still be around.
Earl: What inspired you to start AllPogo, and why?
Ryan: It was kinda a follow up to the last question really. I was wondering how I would stay involved in the sport when my time bouncing came to an end. I had a few injuries which really put things into perspective that I couldn’t do this forever. I originally wanted to do something like a magazine, but over time it evolved into the online hub we have today. I just wanted to get as much information about the sport in one place for all new riders and old riders alike.
Earl: What would you like to see in the future for AllPogo?
Ryan: I would love to have more people involved. It is hard work juggling our lives, this project, and everything else in the world right now. There’s a lot of pogoers out there with information and stories to tell, and we want to post them and make them known.
I guess I would love to see AllPogo grow beside the sport in a way that is beneficial for everyone involved. Here’s to hoping for a pleasant future.