In order to engage students in an alternate type of water sport, Outdoor Edventures is putting on a series of log rolling events this semester in hopes to spur interest and create an intramural activity out of it.
The most recent event took place last Wednesday in the Health Enhancement Center pool at 8:30 p.m. with a fee of $5.
“We have seen a lot of interest throughout the past couple of semesters with programs involving this nontraditional sport. It might very well be enough to start up an intramural sport by fall of 2014,” said Mike Piekenbrock, the recreational activities coordinator at Outdoor Edventures.
These programs feature a laid back atmosphere where students can learn the ropes of basic log rolling on a 60-pound log made of kayak material. They are able to try it out by themselves and with a partner.
Last Wednesday’s event featured experienced log rollers to show students how it is done, making it look simple.
Mike Burns, a junior resource management and environmental law enforcement major, volunteers as an instructor for these events. He has been rolling for 11 years and holds four amateur world titles. He is currently seeking his first professional title.
“My advice to beginners is to just keep your feet moving and take small steps. Your feet are where all the action happens,” Burns said. “Stick with it because you will be able to see yourself continue to improve.”
Burns said that it is quite impressive if a beginner is able to stay on the log for 5-10 seconds. He also made it clear to first-timers that falling is part of the game.
Freshman Meredith Ingbretson has been rolling for 15 years. She regularly competes in the Lumberjack World Championships held every July in Hayward, Wis. In 2012, she came in first place for women’s boom running, another type of log sport.
“It is so rewarding to stick with log rolling. It is an endurance sport with a different way of moving your muscles that helps with your center balance,” Ingbretson said.
Ingbretson demonstrated rolling with a partner against Burns. She wound up being victorious and knocking him off of the log.
“Once you gain some skill, it is all about transitioning and gaining control over your partner,” Ingbretson said.
Both Ingbretson and Burns teach log rolling lessons during the summertime.
“We teach the kids to have fast feet and stomp all the ants. It is kind of like running in place,” Ingbretson said. “Log rolling is not one of those sports where being tall will help. Everyone has an equal shot.”
One of Ingbretson’s favorite parts of log rolling is being with her family. Most log rollers start out at a young age rolling with their siblings though it is not impossible to learn at an older age.
“It is all about practice. The more you do it, the easier it will be. I definitely think that there is enough interest in log rolling to make a club out of it here,” Ingbretson said.
Not everyone at the event was a world-renowned roller and any of the participants attempted rolling for the very first time at this event.
Riley Hall, a freshman wildlife ecology and water resources major, wanted to try something completely different. He got the hang of log rolling as the night progressed.
“I think that I land too hard. I am going to try taking lighter steps,” Hall said.
For many students, log rolling could become a new favorite activity on campus.
“I decided to come out and see what this is all about. I have watched it before, but never participated. This is one more thing to cross off my bucket list,” said Marissa Guse, a freshman communication major and event and promotions coordinator at Outdoor Edventures.
“If you love to try new things and have fun, you should definitely sign up,” Guse said.
Some participants did better than they thought they would for their first try at the sport.
“I stayed on for longer than I initially thought I would. I do have balance, but it is more difficult in water. I plan to come to more events and continue to improve,” said Allison Birr, a freshman communication major.
There will be three more log rolling events yet this semester on March 12, April 2, and April 16 along with a tournament on April 23.