Students struggled to keep their balance on foam Key Log brand rolling logs at the Student Recreational Sports Center pool Tuesday evening.
While they took fall after fall into the cold waters, senior Coup Couper stood on a log at the back of the pool, lightly rolling the foam log beneath him. As he gave advice to novices struggling to stand up, he shot a beach ball at a pool-side basketball hoop; it swooshed.
Log Rolling Club held its semiweekly open roll at the SRSC pool Tuesday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. Log Rolling Club was started in October 2015 by Couper and Megan Wolf. The two were lifeguards at the SRSC when Recreational Sports Aquatics program asked them to teach log rolling. Neither had done log rolling before, but as they learned more about the sport, they became interested in starting a club.
Sophomore Matt Allison, a member of the club, said that log rolling gets his mind off of school.
“It helps me de-stress from my academic day,” Allison said.
The club meets every night, Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Couper said that they are serious about honing their skills, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have fun. He said that they do a wide variety of activities to improve their balance, including the "Cha-Cha Slide" and attempting to knock one another off with Nerf swords.
“We have fun and work on our skills,” Wolf said.
Log Rolling Club competes in “birling,” which is two people on a log trying to get the other person off. Other types of log rolling include speed rolling, where a competitor tries to get as many rotations in 30 seconds. Penalties are not taken for falling off the log. Another competition is “boom running,” in which competitors race across logs lined up end-to-end.
The club just got back from Midwest regionals for the Key Log Rolling Collegiate Tournament Series at the University of Missouri. They took first through fourth in the men’s bracket and first in the women’s bracket.
The club has also competed in the amateur division at Oconomowoc, where a community log rolling tournament in Wisconsin takes place. Couper said that coaches were in attendance who had trained world champions. He said that IU's aggressive strategy was something they had not seen before.
Allison said he began coming to the club when a roller he met at a party invited him to come to one of the open rolls.
“I didn’t even know what it was to begin with,” Allison said.
Allison said he didn’t place at the Wisconsin competition last year, but he took third place at this year’s Midwest regionals. Allison hopes to continue improving his log rollingskills.
Eight people, a mix of first-timers and experienced rollers, came to the event Tuesday. Four logs were available for use in the far end of the SRSC pool. Novices worked on their ability to maintain balance on the logs before squaring off against another person.
As novices worked on balance, Wolf and Couper went toe-to-toe. In order to get the other person to lose their balance on the log, they used a mix of spinning the log, kicking water into the other person’s face and shifting their weight to get the log to rock up and down. It was these techniques that have helped them do well at regional competitions over the past few years.
“Our technique is very aggressive," Couper said. "Get in the other guy’s face."
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