Despite the risk of ungraceful falls and bruised knees, a small group of ACU students remains dedicated to the unusual sport of slacklining.
The slackliners draw daily attention balancing on a thin rope, or webbing, tied tautly between two trees between the McGlothlin Campus Center and the Brown Library. The sport requires rock climbing gear, such as carabiners and a pulley system.
The students said slacklining is an individual and social activity. Ben Upton, junior biology major from Abilene, enjoys the sport because of its individual rewards.
“It has to do with personal skills and goals instead of team stuff,” Upton said. “It was something I could do by myself when I had time.”
Upton began slacklining last spring after learning about the sport from a friend. He was the first to set up his equipment on campus.
“It’s a very unique resource to meet new people,” said Ben Wiese, freshman youth and family ministry major from San Antonio. “People walk by and want to try it, and then instantly, you have a conversation started.”
About 15 people use Upton’s slackline regularly, and five to six people usually practice when it is strung, said Jared Andrews, freshman youth and family ministry major from Weatherford and a regular slackliner. Wiese and Upton said slacklining requires patience, balance and a lot of practice.
“It’s just as mental as it is physical,” Wiese said.
To achieve balance, the slackliners said it is important to focus on a still point toward the opposite end of the line. But even then, Andrews said, they have to be willing to fail.
“You will fall,” Andrews said. “It took me two and a half hours just to learn how to stand on it.”