After spending over 10 years in the Basketball Freestyle game, it feels like there isn't a blade of grass I haven't seen in the UK. I have performed my Freestyling act in 26 countries all over the world. Showcasing my skills at a variety of different events. Having been involved in quite the number of Freestyle jobs. I most certainly have my career highlights & I would like to share with you, my absolute favourite.
About 5 years ago, I picked up my phone to an unknown number (boy, am I glad I did). I spoke to a very friendly character who knew all about me, from following my social media. He spoke about a project they were working on, mentioning how he thought I would be a perfect fit for the role he had in mind. He checked my interest & availability, then invited me to the head offices in London.
I turned up to Camden Town were the Studio/Offices were, signed in and was greeted by some friendly staff who sat me in a meeting room with refreshments. A few minutes go past and the room fills up with other talented disciplines, I recognized the Freerunner, Connor Boost. we've worked on a few events & Music videos together before, although we didn't know each other terribly well. Not before long, everyone had arrived and we were given a presentation, about how we have been selected for being the best at what we do, having the correct look and personalities to assemble, the Nickelodeon Fruit Shoot Skills Crew!
The Skills crew consisted of Sporty skillsters including a BMX flatlander (Matti Axel), Breakdancer (B- girl Roxy), Football Freestyler (Laura Kicks), Freerunner (Connor Boost), Skateboarder (LA Trucks), myself (Drew Hoops) as the Basketball Freestyler & all hosted by Children's TV Presenter/Body Percussionist (NC Flex).
The idea was to inspire & motivate young people to get active and work on their skills.
We created lots of video content of us in action with tutorials, aiding the viewers to learn the moves for themselves. Those short clips were featured on the Nickelodeon channel and are still available to view online. The Fruit Shoot Skills Crew set up to tour shopping centers across the UK, putting on some of the most skillful shows I have ever been involved in. Once the 20-30 minute show was finished, we invited everyone into our staging area for a mini workshop, getting involved in learning something new, all whilst having a blast at the same time.
We promoted the Nickelodeon Fruit Shoot Skills Awards throughout the tour, with kids being honoured in seven skills-based categories. The awards were hosted by Olympian Tom Daley and individual accolades were presented by some of the biggest names in sport, music and television, including Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, TV presenters Laura Whitmore and Ashley Roberts. The show also put on live music performances from pop boy band sensation Union J.
Not to forget the fantastic opening ceremony by our very own Skills Crew. Nominees for the awards were selected by us, as the top skills experts. We saw some serious skills in search to find the UK’s most skilled kids.
Whilst on tour, we had the best time ever, The talent, the staff, we all got on like a house on fire, making every part of the experience that much more enjoyable. The Service from Nickelodeon was amazing, extremely professional and super friendly, they didn't miss a beat, from the cars picking us up, to the 5 star hotels, they really knew how to take care of their talent, making us all feel very important and special, which definitely reflected back on to our performances.
One of the great things about the tour was that we spent 3 nights in each city and EVERY night we went out to see what the city had to offer. Those nights were some of the best nights I've been on. Full of stories I will not be blogging about. Soz, but what I can say is that it was full of Disco naps, Chocolate buttons and Du Dems, along with a bunch of other private jokes but to wrap it all up, we had a great time & I made some friends for life.
We did a great job, our engagement numbers were through the roof and the whole campaign was a huge success. In fact it wasn't long until they announced that The Skills Crew will be back again the following year, bigger and better than ever before! We then had our very own TV show "Get Your Skills On" that we presented ourselves introducing a few new faces to the team. Beat boxer (MC Zani), Breakdancer (B-girl Issie), Breakdancer (B-girl Lyra), Skipper (Rachael Sparks) & Skateboarder (Stefani Five-0).
We broke Guinness World Records (which hang proudly on my wall), we each did even more tutorials & we visited some of the most skilled kids to feature on the show, take Ross Doogan for example, The Rugby trick shot King. (Video below)
We had some of the biggest names feature and perform on the show, from The Harlem Globetrotters, Pixie Lott & Ella Eyre. We even dressed up in Gorilla costumes and doubled up as the "Skills monkeys".
We had Adverts on Kids TV telling everyone to grab your skateboard, hop on your BMX or dribble your basketball to your nearest shopping centre, as Fruit Shoot’s Nickelodeon Skills Crew is coming to a town near you for the UK tour number 2.
Now it's all said and done, I want to say thanks to everyone involved at Nickelodeon & Robinsons Fruit Shoot for making it all possible AND to my fellow Skills Crew members... You smashed it!