OCONOMOWOC -- It's a sport probably unknown to most people, but the lumberjack event of log rolling has made more than a splash in Oconomowoc.
"We call ourselves 'Oconomowoc Log Rolling,'" said John Hallett, founder. "Quite simple, and that's what we do. We are in Oconomowoc, and we log roll."
Quite simply, they log roll very well.
"It works on balance, coordination, foot speed, and for the kids, a lot of self confidence," said Hallett.
Hallett, a former professional log roller himself, founded the club in 1998. While Hallett teaches technique on ways to stay on the log and not get wet, it's not his training that keeps competitors coming back.
"We've created a place where kids can come, and work hard, and set goals, and learn to log roll, learn to compete, and learn to win gracefully and lose gracefully -- and most importantly, have a lot of fun," said Hallett.
"I just love doing it," said Riley Grossklaus, age 11. "It's overall like, a fun and unique sport, and it's fun to tell people about because they are like, 'What's log rolling?' And you get to explain it, and they think it's so cool."
"This team has been an amazing part of my life," said Tanner Hallett. "I have a bunch of my best friends on the team, and they are all super good rollers, and we push each other really hard, and it's a real privilege to be able roll here."
That fun has turned into some serious success -- taking home plenty of medals at the recent Lumberjack World Championships, including a world championship in the men's division for Anthony Polentini.
"So, competing against some of the best rollers in the world, it's something else," said Polentini. "You're both tired, your legs aching, and the log is spinning faster and faster, and you are just trying whatever you can to get them in."
Winning is a goal, but John Hallett said it's one of many reasons for the club.
"I don't keep track of how many medals we win," said Hallett. "It's just improvement. I want every roller to improve, and to roll better, and to be better people from being a part of this program, and I think that is success."
Hallett said he wants more kids to feel that success in the sport that he loves.
"That's my hope, is that we can get more kids coming down to the Y to learn how to log roll, going to City Beach," said Hallett. "The Park and Rec Department has a program in the summer, and get more and more people exposed to the sport."
The Oconomowoc Log Rolling team practices year-round, using the pool at the YMCA in the winter.