Log rolling for sport takes hold in Bay Area

- It's a sport that's been around for more than a century, but it's just now making its way to Tampa Bay. 

"Log rolling is a sport that originated in the Northwoods of North America," said World Champion Log Roller Abby Hoeschler. "It really is a true, original American sport."

It started in the 19th Century, when logs were transferred to cities by river. Often, the practice would jam the waterways, so workers had to find a way to unclog the river to continue the flow of transportation.  

"They were 500-pound wood logs," said Hoeschler.

And with that, log rolling was born. It quickly turned into a sport in 1898, when the first unofficial log rolling championship was held.

"We like to say, it's almost like boxing with your feet because it's a sparring sport. You're really close to your competitor, you're trying to, you know, out-maneuver them, but it's non-violent, and at the end of the day, you're just falling into the water and it's safe and you're having fun," said Hoeschler.

Today, real wood logs aren't needed. With her family, Hoeschler, President and CEO of Key Log Rolling, found a way to make log rolling accessible across the country. They developed a lightweight, synthetic log called a key log.

The goal is simple. Try to knock your opponent off the log first, without touching them or crossing the center line.

"It's been really exciting to see that the sport that originated in the late 1800s in the Northwoods is now being taken on by people in California, people in Florida, urban areas, rural areas," said Hoescher. "All over the country right now, people are loving learning how to log roll."

The Bobby Hicks Pool in Tampa is one place you can find the key log. Another is located on USF's St. Petersburg campus.

"Log rolling is a great workout," said Hoeschler. "It's really fun fitness. People love it. When people say, 'Why do you like log rolling?' They say, 'Because it's fun.'"

Hoeschler says it's a sport for all ages, and she hopes one day, log rolling will be an Olympic sport.

If you're interested in trying out the sport of log rolling, the key logs are made available on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at Bobby Hicks Pool, across from Robinson High School on Mango Avenue.

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