From the Lot to the League

The day started off pretty standard, I was sitting in the parking lot of the Amazon Distribution Center in Fernley NV waiting for my shift to start. I would listen to music and prep myself for another 10 hour shift while watching the most unique humans walk by. Temp workers are an interesting species to say the least. You get all sorts of people looking for a quick paycheck or a second try to work themselves into a better financial scale in life. I myself worked outside of my skate shop because I knew as long as I worked, I’d never have to rely on taking money from the shop and it would be self sustained. I would make quick calls to my distributers during 15 minute breaks to make orders. On 1/2 hour lunch breaks I would call the shop to see how things were going and what needed to be done. The job was hell and running the shop in increments added to the stress of working at Amazon during their busiest season. After my shift was over I would drive to Classic to see how the day went and rush home to eat and go straight to bed. I excelled at my job and was made a supervisor who audited the docks, the last place to insure packages would make it to the correct destination. Everyday I would see the sun go down faster and had a hard time skating let alone making sure Classic stayed on point.

On this particular day I had an email from an old friend, Rob Dyrdek. Rob for whatever reason had always had my back since we first met in 96. Sometime around 2004 he fought hard for me to become the DC Shoes Team Manager. A position I had for about an entire day before a friend of mine, Heath Brinkley was offered the job. That’s where the majority of my grey hair came from. The bad news was I lost out on my dream job, the good news being I had free shoes for the next couple of years. Rob asked me if I would be interested in a job at Street League that he lined up. I was invited to go to the finals in Las Vegas the year before and was sold, seeing it in person is a whole other level of rad. When I had a chance to call him he explained the job to me and that I would be traveling to Seattle, Kansas City, Phoenix, and New Jersey to keep the show flawless. Rob knew I was friends with or acquainted with most of the Pros in Street League so it was an easy transition although I had never worked on live television. After a phone meeting with Brian Atlas, I discussed the proposition with my girlfriend of quitting my job at Amazon to start touring with my friends and get back into the side of skateboarding I was in before I moved back to Reno. Being the amazing person she is, Megan agreed it was a no brainer. I was ecstatic when I left that parking lot the last time. Although I pulled the trigger early and was hurting for those last few paychecks I should have waited out.

I’ve always been afraid to fly. That being said, I was the first person on the scene of an airplane crash out in Fallon NV and about a year later saw an airplane crash right in front of me at the Reno airport. Although they were both Cessna prop planes, those images were heavily burnt into my brain. My first stop for Street League was in Seattle WA and would you know it, I was flying in on an Alaska Airline turbo prop plane. Why would it be any other way? My cherry was getting popped back into the ways of flight and it was hell all the way there. I’m sure the flight was actually a smooth ride but, I was a mess. I made it there, took the transit to my hotel, and made my way to the arena to check out the scene. I saw Rob and the first thing he said was, “Eric Lantto are you ready for the most stressful job in Street League?” and I replied “You know that I am”. He introduced me to the crew and staff, the ESPN guys, and I went to check out the course. It seemed like it was a lot to take in but, I was in my element the moment I got off that plane.

The next morning I met with all the guys I would be working with. I had become friends with Paul Rodriguez and Mikey Taylor from the City Stars days. Actually when I knew Paul was becoming PRod and he was on the verge of blowing up I cornered him in the elevator. I told Paul if I ever saw him even if it was years from then and he didn’t talk to me I was going to put the hurt on him. He said, “I know you will Eric” and from that day had always stayed the same person. Paul has never let his success change him as a person, true blue and a loyal friend. The same goes for Rob, money and fame has not changed the person who did a demo in the back of Addiction Skate Shop on a quarter pipe. Rob was a Reno fixture there for a few years. I met all the other guys and broke down how the contest was going to go with me on board. The contest went well, I made one mistake and made sure to never send anyone out of order again. No matter what though, I still fanned out on Koston….I mean it’s Eric Koston right?

From Seattle we had three more stops and I was hooked. I did my job well and I was working with the best skateboarders surrounded by 15,000 screaming fans. I built solid relationships with a lot of good people. Working out tricks and runs with Malto, Mike Mo, Chris Cole, and Paul were some experiences that are golden. Street League is my perfect element and I never took one stop for granted. I ruptured my achilles tendon four weeks before Kansas City and had food poisoning the night before my flight and I knew there was no way I was going to throw in the towel. I limped around stage and the walk back and forth to the hotel was murder but, there was no way I’d miss out on a KC trip. Kansas City rules, and Malto’s fan base there is insane. Thousands of fans screaming “Let’s Go Malto Let’s Go!” and holding up signs dissing the other Pros was amazing. Sean is another guy that is true blue. I met him once at the Phoenix Am contest years before and he remembered my name and was genuinely stoked I would be touring with them. Every stop we would time his run together and discuss different tricks. I say that in a manner of graciousness, I take all of these experiences with such grateful attitude. I have always worked with and been involved with this side of skateboarding and now that I’m older, I appreciate it so much more.

My last stop was August of this year in New Jersey and as I write this I’m decompressing from the high I get from being involved with such a great organization. The job is fast and stressful, there can be no mistakes on my part. That is the element I thrive in, it’s something I have never taken for granted and each year has been better than the previous. I am able to tour the country with my friends and witness guys puling tricks that could be video part enders first try. With all the money on the line and being surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, it’s still just skateboarding and the guys are having fun skating. The misconception of some of the guys I work with is just plain funny to me. I’m honored to be around some of the most respectful and talented skateboarders ever. To me it is like one big Shred Sunday and the vibe is the same. A solid crew of skaters getting together to shred on the weekend. It’s all skateboarding and that’s why I’m involved 100%. I’m counting down the minutes to next year, from what I hear it’s going to be the best one yet. Thank you Rob Dyrdek and Brian Atlas for the opportunity to shine. -ERL

In the eye of the hurricane. Forrest Locke photo.

Game face with the best guys doing what we love. Forrest Locke photo.

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