Long Live Hawk Island

This season, Hawk Island Snow Park put Michigan snowboarding on the map. While yes, there are plenty of other spots in the murder mitten, finally, this was a place even the most staunch Yobeat hater could get behind. And then, just like that, it was gone. With the release of yet another tribute video, we decided to catch up with Hawk park staffer Joey Leppien to get his take on what went down.

What’s the real scoop on what happened with Hawk Island? 

It’s weird to put it simply. We were kept in the dark for so long and we were basically running the place, Gateway is kinda a sketchy bunch of people. No one even really officially told us that Hawk was getting shut down. We all found out because Tyler felt like something fishy was going on, so he went to where they keep the transcripts of public forums and he READ that the county had voted to get us off their property. And when Tyler asked the higher-ups about it, they were all just like “Yeah, yea thats true, were done….”

Did you ever get a why?

Not fully. I believe the main reason that the board gave was “failure to sell a large quantity of season passes,” which I would put directly upon the marketing director.

Who was actually running it? Were the Gateway people involved in the day to day?

I mean technically, yea they were running it. But they were hardly involved with day to day. It was frustrating. We’d be getting yelled at for things that were out of the control of a bunch of 20 year old diggers.  I believe Ryan Neptune actually came to Lansing once the past two years, and that was just for a meeting, I don’t think he even came to Hawk Island.

Who was yelling at you?

I shouldn’t have said yelling, I guess. Really just the blame of failure was being put onto us. Like the cat would break and we wouldn’t be able to groom in the morning. We’d literally hand-rake the hill and then we’d get shit on for how the hill looked. Like somehow I’m capable of fixing a $250,000 cat machine before I head to my Psychology class.

So there was no one really in charge it sounds like…

Not really, that was one of the things that really bugged all of us. I think Hawk could have been a huge success had there been more structure to everything. We did what we could, but there comes a point where they can’t rely on just us to keep the place a float. We had a great thing going, and it sucked that it felt like we were the only ones that appreciated it. But word on the street is that they’re looking around the Lansing area for another spot to do the same thing!

Anything else you want to say?

Well, i definitely would like the say that I can’t complain about Hawk one bit, ya know? It was no doubt a life changing experience and I learned so much and met SO many awesome people. I’m super grateful to have been able to be involved with Hawk and Gateway, I just wish it could have lasted a little longer. I definitely hope that they can get some things straightened out and have a sustainable set up going soon!

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