Marquette logrolling club in 2nd year: 'It's really fun'

College is a time for self-discovery and, among other things, Marquette University prides itself on being an urban university, providing an education in a city setting. That's why, just steps off Wisconsin Avenue, some MU students are logrolling.

"When I tell my friends that I do logrolling, nobody knows what it is," said Leah Gerut, freshman from suburban Chicago.

"It just kind of feels like a big speed walking race, to be honest with you, whether you're going forwards or backwards," said Ethan Jacoby-Henrickson.

"I definitely say it's a water sport," said Tess Stumvoll. "That would be my classification. It definitely takes some elements of gymnastics. I know a few people who were gymnasts when they were younger who are very, very good at it."  

Stumvoll, a senior from Oconomowoc, is the logrolling trailblazer on campus. In its second year, the club at Marquette consists of an eclectic group of around 25 people.

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"I mean, I hope they can all swim," said Emma Lippold.

Stumvoll intends to roll as a professional. Yes, you can do that starting in summer 2024. Most of the other folks in the club have other ideas.

"It's just really fun," said Lippold.

"I am a person who does not have a lot of equilibrium," said Mary Brown. "I trip falling up the stairs. No balance at all. That being said, it was something that wasn't easy to pick up but was fun to learn. The goal of the first practice is to be on the log for about five to seven seconds, so it's very attainable little goals."

A log with two fins on it spins more slowly than a log with one fin on it, and those both spin more slowly than a log with no fins on it. Each roller can make progress at his or her own pace and legitimately see improvement every time up.

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"There are four tenets to logrolling," said Jacoby-Henrickson. "You've got the eyes. You want to look at your opponent's feet or the end of the log. If you're riding solo, your arms to counteract which way the log is rolling so that you can maintain your balance. You have your core, again, because balance on the log and then feet. You want to be sure that your feet are moving fast so that you don't just stand there and then fall off."

Logrolling began in the 1800s in rivers in the northeastern United States, the upper Midwest and Canada, not in a pool in a major metropolitan area.

"Logrolling is part of the Lumberjack World Championships, which happens every summer, so there, we're logrolling, chopping, sawing," said Stumvoll. "All of that stuff is going on, and that definitely has that perception of the big, burly dudes with the beards and the flannel, but I do find that that's not the reality of the people in the sport quite as much anymore." 

"I definitely didn't think that I'd be logrolling in college, but I think that there's no better place to try new things than in college," said Gerut.