(Friday, September 26th, 2008)

Harley Clifford

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When The Standerd asked me to do a creative interview with Harley, I wasn’t sure what angle to go about doing it. At that particular time, we were close—too close; Harley was living in my house with Sam Thomson, a fellow Aussie wakeboarder and refugee for the summer.  So for the magazine part of the interview, I designed a pie chart of Harley’s weekly activities and tagged it with some other rider’s quotes, hoping to showcase his eagerness and dedication to wakeboarding, among other things like playing Rock Band and finding candy.
      The reason why creating an interview for Harley was difficult was because, as anyone knows, when you live with someone you know different things about them. For example, Harley believes that he does not like parmesan cheese. However, it was in nearly every meal Sam and I fixed for him … and he devoured those meals. “It is disgusting and I hate it,” he said to us one day when we called him out on it, “I just ate it because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” In actuality, he had no idea the cheese was in there and so I am led to believe he actually likes parmesan cheese, he just doesn’t know it yet.   
      Harley is also serious about texting, according to Verizion he sent and received over 3,600 text messages last month. Upon seeing this phone bill, I immediately called him into the kitchen to high-five him for such a miraculous accomplishment. “No way, that can’t be right,” he said, “That’s wrong.” To which I responded by calculating how many texts per day that is—way over 100. I feel fairly confident this is completely accurate, and if you spent a day with him you would understand. So I considered calling Verizon just to prove him wrong, but I should have considered asking for their sponsorship instead. If anything, I thought, this had to be a record of some sort and I felt we should be compensated.
      So when you are that close to someone—that you know their weird eating habits, texting obsessions, bathroom routines and such—it’s hard to know what questions to ask before an audience because 1) you already know the answers to the common questions and 2) you may forget which questions may be appropriate. The other reason I knew this interview would prove to be challenging is that Harley is a young teenager. Thus, when it came to the Q and A session, I expected that his answers would be short (which they are) and sometimes creative (which they are); it’s just how he views the world at the moment.
     The important things to know about Harley is that he is incredibly smart; he does love to wakeboard and happens to be extraordinarily good at it; and that he may be young, but he’s already seen and experienced more of the world than most of us will ever have the opportunity to do. But as far as anything else goes (like did Audrina from the TV show The Hills get his phone number?), you can read below and decide for yourself.

Jana: So at the completion of your first full summer in America, what kind of thoughts are going through your head?
Harley: It’s been fun; it’s been a good trip. Experience wise—I’ve learned a lot, it’s been good for my wakeboarding.

What did you like most about living in America this summer?
The warm weather … wakeboarding lots … and getting to hang with people and stuff.

What are things you missed about home?
My brothers, my Mum and Dad and hanging out with my little dog.

What is the first thing you are going to do when you get home?
Make lasagna and eat it.

And when you say “make lasagna” you mean your mom will make it, not you?

At what age did you start wakeboarding?
When I was 7, I think. No wait, 6.

How did you get started?
My Dad’s friend has a wakeboard shop. We borrowed a wakeboard from him one weekend and took it to the lake. I guess I didn’t like it at first. But the next summer, we went back for holiday and I started to really like it.

At what point did you decide it was something you must do?
I don’t know … when we got a new boat. We got a new wakeboard boat when I was 9, or like 8.

What about your brothers? Did they ride with you?
Yeah, my brothers used to wakeboard all the time. But they got away from it. But since I’ve been in America, they’ve been wakeboarding a whole bunch.

Are you excited to go home and ride with them?
Yeah it should be good, especially with my new boat.

Now that you are starting to get paid by sponsors, has the feel of wakeboarding changed?
Not really. I guess it’s something you have to be more professional about at contest and around other wakeboarders and stuff.

What do you think is going to be the hardest challenge?
I guess keeping good results at contest and not getting a bad reputation.

What moves are you working on?
Crow Mobe 5 and TS BS 7 off the wake.

What are your goals for wakeboarding?
Hopefully, I can wakeboard for as long as I can and get good results all the time. I don’t know … just to stay on top.

Has living in America helped you pursue those goals?
Yeah, definitely. I couldn’t just do it back in Australia because it’s not big enough there.

What have you learned from living here?
I’ve learned how to live with other people … [He smiles at me.]

HA! Why are you smiling so big?
[Laughs] I’ve learned to wakeboard better. There’s lots of things I’ve learned.

Well, I’d like to hear them.
I’ve learned that people will steal money from me, like in Egypt. And … I don’t know what else.

There are a lot of riders talking about your potential as a rider. How do you feel about that?
At contest when they’re talking about me, it makes me feel good. I don’t know. I try not to … I don’t know.

Well, does it make you feel excited or nervous?
It makes me feel excited and nervous at the same time, because at the contest I have to try and live up to what they’re talking about.

Are there any riders you look up to?
Yeah, definitely. Phillip Soven, Danny Harf and Rusty Malinoski—they’ve just been killing it lately.

This summer you attempted home schooling, which is something most riders don’t have to worry about. Was it a challenge?
At first, it was kind of easy. I just did school like I would back at home. But by the end of the trip, it got harder and harder because it was harder to motivate myself to do it.

Do you miss going to school and hanging with peers your own age?
Yeah, I miss school. Over here though, I have friends my age. So it wasn’t that bad.

What do you like to do when you’re not wakeboarding?
[Pauses] What do I do? [Pauses] I play X-box … Rock Band … I go to Tijuana Flats and Flow Rider.

What was your best Rock Band moment?
One day I got 100% on hard on [The Killers song] “When We Were Young” and I left it on the screen all day for everyone to see. It was really good. 

What is the first thing you think about in the morning? And the last thing you think about before you go to bed?
Rock Band

What’s the best way for someone to get a hold of you?
My phone.

Is it really true Audrina from The Hills asked for your number?
It’s true. I met her and she got my number.

Has she ever called you?
No. Damn.

How much money do you think you’ve spent on candy since you’ve been here?
Probably $5-6 a day, which would add up to like $500. [Laughs]

[Laughs] That is probably true. What kind of candy are you buying?
Those little Rolo chocolate things and M&M’s and Jolly Ranchers. We have M&M’s in Australia, but not the others.

What’s one thing you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
Bungee Jump

Can you comment on your obsession with shoes?
I guess. I really like them. I have so many pairs of Nike’s … I’m getting sponsored by them soon.

What are some more of your favorite things?
Rock Band [Laughs] No. I like going to OWC and riding cable and going to Flow Rider and the flying place, whatever it’s called.

You haven’t even been to Sky Adventure, or have you?
Yeah, like four times. I go with Adam [Errington]. We went sky-diving out of the Red Bull plane.

What?! And you didn’t tell me? How could you not tell me you jumped out of a plane?
I did tell you. You and Sam didn’t believe me.

Oh right. I still don’t know that I do believe you.
[He shrugs his shoulders.]

Considering you leave tomorrow, how do you plan on spending your next 24 hours?
I’m going to hang out with you and Sam. I might go ride at OWC. I don’t know … I’m just going to hang out.

And everything is packed?

Will we see you next year? 
Yeah, I’ll be back. I don’t when and I’m probably not going to come back for the same amount of time. But I’ll be back. Yeah.

*Interview Date: September 8, 2008
**This is not the original interview as seen in the pictures of Contact Sheet in The Standerd. My purse was stolen after the first interview was completed and unfortunately it held my tape recorder.

Posted Friday, September 26th, 2008 in Athletes , Orlando InterviewsTags: , ,
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