ON HIS OWN TERMS - 10 years with Ben Hennon
A Team Managers Story
26 Nov 2018
Words by Andy Zeiss (Vans TM) | Photos by George Marshall
I first met Ben at the Prague Worlds in 2005. He was 18, maybe 19 at that time and riding in full on ‘elbows out’ mode. I remember him flip-whipping a big subrail spine, crashing to flat over and over again. His pops, (aka Big Hennon) was standing on the sidelines yelling “go on son”, louder than the PA system. He was so determined and pulled it eventually. Ben stunned everyone, and I wasn’t the only one who looked around, open mouthed, and thought... “who the hell is that?”
At that time Ben was supported by Eastpak and I became their TM that year, so he really made a good first impression!
But both our Vans journeys pretty much started in 2008. Jon Taylor, the former UK TM started to flow him shoes thru the UK when I took the role as the European TM the same year. For me it was clear that Ben needed to be part of an even bigger setup, so I officially added him to the Euro team the same year.
Ben always had everything that it takes to be a Vans rider; skills, attitude, character, personality and a big team spirit. People were always super intimidated, or even scared by his 'zero fucks given' mentality - that might be also because he was always very honest about everything and he was never shy telling - if you liked it or not. But once you got to know him a little, you realised that his tough human being who actually had a very warm soul.
His honesty is something I always admired. The last year I started noticing that Ben was focussing on other goals as he wanted to take the next step in his life.
He always shared his ideas and thoughts of where his focus was; it was part of him growing up and following a new path in his life. He wouldn’t just hold on to something just for the sake of it, holding on to the elusive ‘BMX dream'.
So after a very extraordinary BMX career, including 10 years with VANS, he called me one day. I could tell by his tone it wasn’t about catching up like we always did. After a little small talk, there was a noticeable pause in the conversation before he told me that his professional BMX career was over, and theta he was quitting Vans. He walked me through his decision and we both were a little choked up. Again. it was him who set the terms. Thats how he is, in or out - he would tell you how it was. It was probably one of the saddest, yet proudest, moments for me personally - not only as his team manager, but more so as his friend.
We’ve travelled the world together sharing many crazy moments, collecting memories we’ll never forget. It was a trip indeed Ben, and I was proud being your team manager, but even prouder being your friend, your brother.
From myself, your fellow team mates and everyone at Vans - THANK YOU for the past decade. We love you and wish you all the best on your new adventures. - Andy Zeiss
"I was just a little french Flatland kid and remembered being so impressed (yet scared) by Ben when we first met at NASS in 2008. His riding was so powerful and his face was always so crazy when he was riding. That’s the first impression I had: a crazy guy from Northern England. Fast forward 6 years, I’m on filming trip with him in South Africa and we are partying together in the house where we are staying in. I kinda stopped and thought, ‘fuck I had him all wrong!’ Hennon is the coolest, yet toughest, dude you’ll ever meet. He’s always down to ride, always down to party and most importantly always down to laugh. He has his own sense of humour, which some people don’t get, but that fucking cracks me up. When I knew Ben was on a trip, I was always so hyped to go ‘cause I knew I was gonna have the best time! I have thousands of Hennon stories that you’ll probably never hear, and that’s the part of the legacy that he’s left. You made BMX look fucking good mate, and I’m gonna miss going on trips with you! See you again soon I hope!" - Matthias Dandois
"I was in a very sketchy neighbourhood with Hennon once and 4 sketchy looking dudes walked up to us and asked us where we were from, I stayed quiet and Hennon looked up at them slowly and said 'I’m from Hell'. The dudes quickly walked away." - Sebastian Keep
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