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What else? with Jesse Noonan

Teaching by example with off-the-wall skate coach Jesse Noonan

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In What else? I interview some of my favourite skaters about what they do when they’re not riding their skateboard. Spoiler alert: we usually end up talking about skating anyway.

Jesse Noonan seems like he’s having a lot of fun on his skateboard. He goes really fast, and he skates everything: street, parks, vert, and really weird shit you wouldn’t even think was a spot. To spice things up, he often throws something unpredictable into the mix—like a lime-green codpiece, or an extra board. On top of all that, Jesse runs his own skateboard coaching business: Rock’N’Slide Skateboarding. Not bad for a 26-year-old from the Gold Coast. I gave him a call to find out more.

Jesse skates for Vans, Santa Cruz skateboards, Independent Trucks, Fast Times, Beach Burrito, Volcom, and Croc Lobster.

MO: What are you up to today?

JN: I’m about to go surfing out the front of my house.

Which beach is that?

Miami Beach on the Gold Coast.

It sounds very glamorous.

Everyone confuses it with the one in America, like, ‘You live in Miami!?’ No, no, I’m in Australia, I’m definitely still here.

It still has a touch of glamour about it.

Oh yes, the Gold Coast is a very glamorous place.

Since you grew up on the Gold Coast, I suppose you’ve always surfed and skated.

Yep, it all comes tied together.

I know you do a bunch of different stuff as well. Is it all tied together with the same energy?

Yeah, definitely. It’s just living.

How did skating become the main focus?

I grew up a bit away from the beach, so through the week I’d just be skating in front of the house. We had these sick little gutters that were like curves; we’d be smashing them with carves and ollieing and stuff. Next thing you know, we’re setting up kicker ramps over garbage bins and I just didn’t care about surfing as much any more.

You got the bug.

The skate bug bit me, for sure, over the surf bug.

If you’re wearing a wetsuit, the bugs can’t get to you as much.

Oh, you’d be surprised. They get you when you dry your wetsuit out.

So you’re a skateboard coach. Is that your job?

Yeah, I started a skate coaching business and it’s been going crazy. I’ve been doing it for a year now; at first it was something on the side and now it’s my job. I’m pretty stoked.

Wow! So it’s your own business.

Yeah, it’s called Rock’N’Slide Skateboarding. It’s grown from 10 students and now I’ve got 80 students, and I get new ones every week.

Bloody hell.

I know; it’s awesome!

How does it work with schools?

I do two lessons after school: a beginner and an intermediate; then I do morning lessons an hour before school; then at the moment I’m at Currumbin School as well. I’d like to do more schools, it’s where the fun is I reckon. It’s good to get the kids who aren’t so familiar with skating and show them how cool it is.

So you take a whole container of bugs to the school.

I take the fleas down there and let them loose.

What’s your approach? Is it technique-based or more spiritual?

There’s a bit of everything. With the younger kids, I play games with them. It’s hard because they’re not so interested in the act of skating straight away, so I just try to show them that it’s fun. With the older kids I get into techniques, get them working on certain tricks. For the most part it’s just getting them rolling, because these kids just get on scooters because they can hold onto the handlebars. Without someone helping them getting their balance and confidence on a skateboard, they’re not going to try it; they’ll just use the scooter. That’s a bummer.

There’s a sort of transition to scooters to skateboards or BMX, then to cars. They sort of pass through.

From what I see, it’s from scooters to bongs, pretty much. The kids on the scooters turn into the little lads with the bum-bags smashing shit, doing graffiti. They’ve turned into the stereotypical skater from the old days.

That’s interesting. Why do you think that is? Is it because the skateboard bug takes up your whole lifestyle?

Yeah, it becomes more of your drive. You want to be progressing with skating; it pushes you. Whereas with scooters, they all can do a tail-whip or the bloody spinny thing they do, then they just hang out in packs. It’s not like they’re pushing each other to progress, they’re just there to hang out. I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere, but it’s what I’m seeing.

Do your students stick with it?

Of course. After the first couple of lessons, they’re in. Their parents are like, ‘Billy won’t stop asking us to take him to the skatepark,’ so something’s working.

That’s awesome.

I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve had some bad jobs you know, like digging holes and labouring and whatnot, so this is a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Did you have to get accreditation?

Yeah, I’ve got public liability insurance, I’ve got my CPR first aid blue card; I’m level one accredited with the ASF–the Australian Skateboarding Federation. You can’t just jump into it and start teaching kids; you need to be professional about it.

It’s exciting thinking about someone like you teaching young kids how to skate, as opposed to more straight-down-the-line kind of guys. Are you conscious of trying to remind kids you can be inventive with it and it’s pretty funny?

I stress to the kids that the most important thing is having fun. I get them in a big circle and say, ‘I want you to come back next week and show me your own move that you’ve created.’ One of my boys, Ryder, he’s really creative. He made up a move called ‘the plate’. He lies on his back with his board twisted through his legs, and he’s like, ‘You can put your dinner on the board and eat it!’

 You could take that to the streets! You could do the plate drop-in. Call it ‘The Greek Wedding’.

Yeah, smash a plate! I can pull inspiration from the kids. There are some real characters; it’s lots of fun.

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