Student brings unique sport to campus
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 23:01
Douglas Pham, a junior majoring in chemistry, has been turning heads lately by practicing a curious, emerging sport on campus known as “slacklining” — a sport in which one balances and walks across a narrow strip of webbing tied between two anchor points.
Pham can often be spotted with his arms in the air on the elevated webbing, each end supported by a tree on campus.
Pham, a rock climber, said slacklining began as something rock climbers did while on break from climbing. He learned about the sport at his climbing gym.
“At first I was just climbing, and then I saw people walking and jumping on it (the rope) so I went and tried it,” he said. “Eventually, after about a year, I bought my own and then started doing my own thing.”
The intriguing sport of balance didn’t just appear out of the blue, though it seems to have on the USF campus.
Many may have noticed the eye-catching sport at halftime of last year’s Super Bowl, when a man wearing a toga brought the nylon rope to tens of millions of television viewers as Madonna performed. Pham said he was not initially expecting others to want to try slacklining, and began setting it up on campus for himself and occasionally slacklined with other climbers.
Now, Pham’s crowd consists mainly of interested spectators taking pictures.
“A lot of people just kind of walk by and stare,” he said.
While some may be scared about balancing themselves on the nylon, Pham said he is always more than willing to assist.
“It is scary, because you’re standing on a two inch rope suspended four feet in the air,” he said. “But honestly, when you fall, your natural reaction is to stick your feet out or your hand out. You’re never going to fall on your face. It’s really hard to get hurt on these things.”
Since starting on campus, Pham has taken to slacklining in various locations. Initially, he was in front of the Student Health Services building, and has moved to other areas including one near the Fine Arts building and most recently, in front of the Library.
Already a member of USF’s Rock Climbing Club, Pham said he hopes to create a Slacklining Club.
For those interested in seeing or attempting the sport for themselves, Pham and his webbing can be seen on Tuesdays and Thursdays.