PERSISTENCE, DEDICATION, LEADERSHIP, TALENT - AND A KID CHANGE AGENT ON A BIKE
The northeast region of the United States was a forgotten part of the country when it came to BMX Freestyle in the early and middle ‘80’s. Racing was prevalent but Freestyle was rare. Under Dennis’ leadership and by his example, other youth in the northeast picked up the sport. It was Dennis who reached out to a teacher in his Massachusetts elementary school to help him with developing his amateur freestyle team that he had started with a friend, Darren Prescott. That introduction led to the development of the top professional freestyle team in the Northeast that was later recognized worldwide. Dennis was the ‘change agent’ for the northeast region helping to explode events, teams development, and the resulting sales of freestyle bikes over many years. Without Dennis, the AFA would not have been introduced to Ron Stebenne who later worked with Bob Morales’ to bring AFA events to the northeast region. This made a huge difference in the lives of many kids and families. Without Dennis and his influence and talent, larger sponsors would not have taken notice of the sport/art of bmx freestyle in the northeast. He was/is a brand magnet on many levels. Because of Dennis and his later work promoting thousands of school assemblies through his online company, thousands of youth across the U.S. have benefited from the positive messaging of his teams hired to do school shows. It is verifiable that Dennis and his school assemblies on bike safety and wearing helmets actually saved a youth from death. (School letter available about this wonderful outcome from a terrible accident.) Who knows how many others have changed their minds about helmet wearing and have avoided series injury. If it not been for Dennis Langlais, the Mountain Dew/GT Team would never have started, and its many team members’ future careers and successes may not have happened. Dennis is a tremendous ambassador for the various brands that support him and his work riding worldwide. He has been a highly skilled professional that has surely advanced sales for all brands working with him. Dennis has always been willing to help others advance in life and in business including hiring and working with numerous bmx freestyle athletes. Another outstanding accomplishment was Dennis’ creation of a multifunctional website that quite literally runs his school assembly business. This very complex site and intricate platform was created to streamline school assembly bookings and management. His use of technology helps further bmx shows and the resulting awareness for brands and life-saving messaging.
Provide a brief year-by-year summary (resume') of the nominee's career in BMX.
In the early to mid ‘80’s, Dennis Langlais was about 11 years old when he could be seen riding his bike up and down a ramp in his front yard. More interesting was the fact that his bike riding was taking place all year and even in the middle of winter – and oftentimes with lots of snow on the ground! Dennis would shovel the path that led to the ramp as well as shovel the ramp. Up and down, up and down, up and down he would go perfecting his 180-degree turn working up a sweat in 10-degree weather. He was undaunted when the snowplow pushed his recently shoveled snow right back on his path. He would just clear his area again and start over, up and down, up and down. Dennis was admired by those local youth that understood what he was trying to do. To most adults, he was a just another kid doing kid stuff. Most thought it was just a phase, and the bike would soon be put away to be replaced by a guitar or baseball bat. Though Dennis and his friends had outside interests, the BMX bike became part of them, an extension of their feet and their identity. Dennis’ persistence eventually paid off as he landed a bike shop sponsorship that would eventually lead to bigger and better things. The little ‘East Coast Wheels Team’ Dennis and his friend Darren Prescott started needed some help. Dennis asked a teacher in his school for help writing to potential sponsors. This effort paid off with som small sponsorship that eventually led to larger ones. However, the west coast bmx freestyle teams seemed untouchable and too good for eastern teams to catch up in sponsorships, riding ability, and fame. That did not deter them. They just worked harder. Dennis and his team were fans of the ‘GT BMX Freestyle Team’ from California. Haro and GT were the best and most popular bikes for racing and began gaining in popularity with trick bikes or ‘Freestyle Bikes’. When it was advertised that the GT Team and their pro bikers were going to do a show in Connecticut, Dennis’ East Coast Wheels Team just had to go. Ron Wilkerson and Eddie Fiola were the pro bikers at the event and favorites of Dennis and the team. That show created a chance of a lifetime for Dennis, the team, and Ron Stebenne (team manager) who worked out a deal with GT for a sponsorship. Freestyle Promotions International was born and so was the Mountain Dew GT Trick Team. All the hard work of the past couple of years began to really pay off. The Mountain Dew Team was now ready to take on the west coast riders. Dennis and the team with some parents packed their bags and entered the American Freestyle Association’s contest at Venice Beach California. Bob Morales, a designer for GT (Dyno) and the owner of the contest series for the AFA, became friends with Ron Stebenne, Dennis, and the team. That friendship led to numerous contests taking place up and down the east coast under the AFA sanction body umbrella in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America. The team learned a lot from the contest and made great connections with people that would continue to be part of the team’s life for years to come. All this activity attracted promoters for TV shows. Later, Dennis went to Europe as guests of sponsors for TV shows in France and England. Dennis was catching up with Matt Hoffman, David Mira, and other big names at that time, often beating them in contests. Dennis and other team members were now becoming the celebrities in their own right, enjoying the best the sport had to offer. Dennis began more tours to Europe, doing more TV stories and interviews, and gained more sponsors. Dennis later joined the Hutch team in the late 80’s until the company folded. The original Mt. Dew/GT equipment was purchased by Chris Lashua and the shows with Dennis and others went on under Chris’ management and new company name, ‘Freestyle Performance.’ Meanwhile, Dennis was making his own way in the BMX world by connecting with California bike companies and pros. His connections led to friends on Diamondback Bicycles. Dennis was a sleeping giant as a businessman. However, he was about to make his move in the industry. Dennis decided he wanted to be closer to the industry as well and moved out to San Diego to live by the famous “Enchanted Ramp” owned by Ron Wilkerson of Haro and his Two Hip brand. Dennis paid his dues at Wilkerson’s by sleeping on the floor with a number of other BMX hopefuls sharing floor space in the small ranch by the 5 freeway. Dennis’ stay in California was short. However, it gave him a chance to see what was around for him. Not seeing anything right away, he moved back to Boston and lived with some BMX buddies from the old days. Dennis soon returned to California with friends from the earlier East Coast Wheels days. Now Dennis had a team to begin a new enterprise, his own bmx freestyle program. The year was 1991 when Dennis started his performing company. His target was the public schools in San Diego and beyond. Dennis’ performance and assembly company’s influence grew in southern California as his reputation for professionalism grew. Knowing many riders all over the country, Dennis began to pull in his buddies in different states and employed them to do shows in other states. He held them to the same high standards of excellence he set for himself with his own performances. If they didn’t hold up to his standards, he let them go. Some of the groups spun off to do their own shows in competition with Dennis. However, few could match his level of excellence. Some years passed and Dennis created quite a name for himself and his company. Dennis learned to juggle schedules, handle performer personalities, and the politics of working for schools and school personnel. This is all quite an accomplishment in itself. Another outstanding accomplishment was Dennis’ creation of a multifunctional website that quite literally automatically ran the school assembly business. This very complex site and intricate platform creation could never have been expected of a kid riding a BMX bike. Dennis is full of surprises and continues to be a change agent in the world of bmx freestyle, tech, and promotions to this day. Please list major wins, titles, championships and accomplishments earned by the nominee. * 1. Ranked TOP 3 on the AFA Freestyle series 2. 4. List Teams/Manufacturers this nominee has ridden for or the brands he/she has represented. GT BMX Provided exposure through out the East coast via competitions, clinics and raised the bar for the east coast contingent to meet that of the west coast. Among the most experience world touring pro on GT’s Rider Roster. Verifiable by Sean/head of GT marketing