On November 7th, P. Rod partnered up with Stoked Mentoring and Mountain Dew to host “After School With Paul Rodriguez & Friends”. In town [New York] to receive the prestigious Stoked Achievement Award, Paul took things to the next level by turning his visit into a monumental series of events.
Paul swung by City Polytechnic High School in Downtown Brooklyn to act as the official principal for the day, hung out with students, made decks from scratch and generally kept the kids hyped. Afterwards he took the stage at New York City Technical College to speak to a crowd of 350 youths about skateboarding, following ones dreams and what it means to succeed.
While Paul was in New York, he talked to us about the epic event, connecting with the kids and his experiences over the course of his NYC trip.
How did you get involved with Stoked Mentoring? I got involved last summer. Nike, along David de Rothchild did this retreat/getaway over at this lake in Idaho in this beautiful house. And they invited a bunch of us Nike athletes and a bunch of teachers, motivational speakers and all kinds of walks of life. And Steve [Larosiliere, Stoked Founder] happened to be one of the guys invited to come talk to us. And it so happens that when we landed at the airport, we drove to the house together in the same car. It was like a two hour drive. And over the course of that drive we ended up just talking and talking. We found out we had so many things in common, and from there we spent the whole weekend with him. I heard everything he was about and what he was doing and felt it was something I needed to get involved with.
How did “After School with P. Rod & Friends” come about? Steve wanted to honor me with a Stoked Award. And he wanted to maximize with the opportunity of me being out here (New York). He arranged it so that I would attend one of the schools that they have an after school program with. I would come down, be the principal for the day, make some skateboards with the kids…that’s part of their program where kids make boards. It’s a really cool process and I’ve never made a skateboard from scratch. Cutting the plys, gluing them together and pressing them and all that. So I got to do that, have lunch with the kids, skate through the hallways, skate the stairs inside the school, and just drop in on a bunch of classes. I got to see what kids were working on in different engineering classes. Some kids were working on how to create water filters and different everyday household items. I saw how they were getting the kids to really think and problem solve. So it was real cool to see that. And after that, we went to an auditorium down the street. Kids from all over were invited to come down, meet some of the pros and myself. We gave them a little talk and hopefully it was motivating, and can help some kids pursue their dreams. And on top of that, the school we were at was the same school that Jay-Z, Biggie and Busta Rhymes went to school at. So that was a cool tidbit.
That’s rad, what other pros were with you? Nigel Sylvester, a BMX pro from 6.0. And we had Steve Rodriguez and Nardelli from 5boro come out and talk about how they do it out here in New York. And Alex Corporan came in and gave the kids a heads up on the book he put out, about 25 years of New York City skateboarding. It was really cool.
What kind of stuff did you try to convey to the kids in your speaking with them? Mainly I was trying to get across that success is more in your state of mind. I feel like a lot of people have a misconception about successful people, or people who are living their dreams, that they’re just lucky. And it just sort of happened to them. What I was trying to get across to them was, guys like Michael Jordan or Bruce Lee or Jay-Z, just like the guys in this world who have reached the stratosphere, it wasn’t luck for them. It was every day, day in and out, hard work and focus, and dedication and determination. I was trying to spark something in them to realize that if they have a dream or a goal, it is feasible. And it doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks…dum idea, good idea, whatever. It only matters what you believe in your heart and you believe in your mind. And that’s the only thing that’s going to help you achieve your goals. Just trying to light a fire under them so if they have something in mind, they should do it. All it takes to become something is to do it. Literally, do it, all day, in and out.
Where there any highlights from the day, or particular moments with the kids that stand out in your mind? The most memorable moment was when they taught me how to build a deck from scratch. I’d never done it before and I had a team of like five kids showing me everything about how to put the glue on and what kind of glue you need. They showed me all the details. That was pretty fun to me, right there. And of course, I got to skate the seven stair in the hallways of the school during the middle of different classes. That was a pretty cool moment. This one kid, Taheem, I think that’s what his name was. He’s the one that egged me on to do it and asked the teachers if I could skate the steps. He kind of negotiated the deal.
You weren’t supposed to skate in the school? He was like, ‘Hey you should jump these stairs!’ I was like, ‘If they’ll let me, I’m not trying to push my luck here.’ And he was like, ‘You got it right here!’ And he’s talking to the teachers saying, ‘Let him do it, he’s a professional! It’s gonna be good!’ And the teachers were like, ‘Alright.’ So he used his New York swag and negotiated. So I did a couple ollies and couple 180’s down the steps. The teachers were getting all nervous like, ‘We don’t want you to hurt yourself here.’ I didn’t want to risk it trying anything too fancy, so I stuck with a 180 and an ollie. Being the fact that it was inside the school was enough for me.
Given your success and your status as a looked up to professional skateboarder, what does it mean to you to be able to give back to the kids? It means a ton, man. Because I was that kid not too long ago. And I wish I’d gone to school and got to see one of my favorite pros come through or there were existing programs that could have helped nurture what I had going on. Fortunately I had a good skate crew when I was coming up, so it worked out. But it would have been more exciting to have more involvement from the grown-ups…if they would have helped cultivate and nurture the passion that I had. Now skateboarding is at a point where it’s more accepted and people understand that it’s an outlet for kids, and it’s more accessible for kids who don’t have the financial ability to just pursue anything that they want to. Skateboarding is a very accessible thing and to me, it’s the funnest thing you can do. So it goes hand in hand that way. It just feels good to give back and help encourage kids to go out and live their dream because I’m living mine. Being on this side of the table, I realize it’s not an impossible task. It’s actually very feasible, you just have to do it and be consistent at working for it. You can’t just be fired up for a day or two and then fizzle out. It has to be a consistent grind. A consistent motivation.
Have some closer look at Paul’s After School event, the Stoked Awards Ceremony and some skating Paul managed to sneak in on this monumental NYC trip.
Paul takes on the roll of High School Teacher. Here he talks to some students about following their dreams and popping perfect Nollie Flips. Actually, he said nothing about Nollie Flips.
P. Rod…the Principal for the day. Getting sent to the principals office on this particular day must have been rad.
P. Rod takes center stage and drops some wisdom on some psyched students.
Paul discreetly cruises the hallways while class was in session. Is that a Nollie Tre?
Stoked Founder Steve Larosiliere presents Paul with the prestigious Stoked Achievement Award.
Stoked founder Steve Larosiliere alongside some Stoked Award recipients.
While in Brooklyn, Paul managed to get some skating in. Here he stops into KCDC for a casual Blunt Fakie.
Paul snaps a rail Kickflip at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s McCarren Skatepark.
For more into on Stoked Mentoring visit their website HERE.
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