From selling drugs at 13 years old and attending juvenile prison at 15, to moving to Whistler at 16 and becoming one of the most influential snowboarders of the early 2000s by 19, Andrew Geeves has experienced a lot. And, as a result, he has a lot of wisdom to share. He is also a person who continues to work on himself. Geeves has struggled with mental health and addiction his whole life, and some of it was a direct result of snowboarding and snowboard culture. Right now, Geeves lives in Ottawa, keeps his head down, and boards a lot. Even when asking him to do this, he shared how he didn't really want to, and how it took a perspective shift to make it happen. "I kinda just wanna be forgotten about," he says. "But then I started thinking, if I can have the opportunity to help some up-and-comers with things that I did wrong, that could prolong their longevity within the industry, then I should. I might as well do something positive." The following two lessons are from Geeves. They are what he learned from snowboarding.
By William Fraser
1. Don't Burn Bridges
Fuck, off the top of my head, I've got one that I've done so many fuckin' times, and I've always had a reason to do it, but I also cringe every single time I think about it. It's the lesson of not burning your bridges. That, by far, is the most important thing I've learned from snowboarding. You can't take back what you say. And for me, that was really hard at times. I'm one to stick to my guns, and I've put numerous people on blast because of that, especially after a few drinks. I would just let loose. I'm a nice guy and everything, but at times, I just couldn't hack it. There were instances where I felt so crossed by people, especially when people say that they have your back, and don't come through. That always got me. That shit would just set me off. You got to just fuckin' roll with the punches, though. No one wants some rowdy kid who is talking shit. You can't do what I did in my career. Snowboarding is a small fuckin’ world, and that goes for any industry. It's all small, and word gets around, believe me, learn from me, you wanna keep that professionalism. Especially now, you're easy to replace. There is always some kid or person out there ready to take your spot. It doesn't matter how good you are, because that's only half of it. The other half is how you carry yourself. You've gotta play the game, no matter what it is. If you wanna succeed, you've gotta dance! It will get you so much further than being a dick.
2. Be Yourself
The next one is, stand your ground and speak your mind. Snowboarding, to me, is about being an individual. It’s not so much of a sport as it is an art. So, as much as you should be professional, without a doubt, know when you’re losing yourself. When that brand, or whatever, is pushing you too far into someone you’re not, be aware of that. In some way, I feel like that’s kinda what happened with me and DC. I’m amazed at how far I even made it. Like, you gotta take shit when you’re with a brand that doesn’t align with you. Honestly, to make snowboarding a career, and a job, is a fucking scary thing. You’re taking your biggest passions and, if you got a big-name sponsor, you’re letting them control you. With DC, they hired me not because I was a good snowboarder, but because I was a character, but eventually they didn’t like the character. They wanted to change it. I found that hard. I’m the person who is me no matter what, maybe even to a fault. So, in 2008 with that big economic crash, I was out, which was hard. My parents don’t have money. I don’t have that credit card. I didn’t have a safety net. All my eggs were in the DC basket, which sucked, but I was also tired of it all. I just wanted to be me without all the bullshit. So, in snowboarding, be smart about your sponsors. And, in life, be smart about who you support. Don’t get sponsors, or even jobs, with people who don’t support who you are. It can really mess you up. I’m not saying don’t be respectful about all that stuff. That’s not it. Be a good person, but don’t get tied down in someone else’s vision.