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Logrolling/Futsal are new events at The Centre

Two unique activities at The Centre put a twist on the traditional sports of logrolling and soccer.

The Centre is currently offering logrolling classes in the pool and Futsal, a variation of soccer, usually played indoors in a small playing area using a weighted ball.


Logrolling is often associated with big, burly lumberjacks in flannel. At The Centre, they prefer their logrollers in swim suits.

Heidi Vanderloop, aquatics director at The Centre said, Logrolling is a sport that originated in the lumberjack/log driver tradition of the northeastern United States and Canada, involving logs in a river (traditionally) or other body of water. After bringing their logs downriver, the lumberjacks would compete to see who could balance on a log the longest while it was still rolling in the river.

The logrolling contest involves two lumberjacks, each on one end of a log floating in the river. One or the other starts "walking" (or "rolling") the log, and the other is forced to keep up. "The contest involves attempting to stay on the log while attempting to cause the competitor to lose their balance and splash into the water," Vanderloop said.

In New Richmond modern-day lumber Jacks and Janes compete in logrolling competitions in The Centre's pool where the water is around 3.5 feet deep.

Logrolling Instructor Chris Serpico shares tricks and techniques with the young participants to help them stay on the log and out of the water.

The Centre's log isn't a log per se. The log is a large cylinder-shaped piece of wood, wrapped in a carpet-like material at both ends to provide traction for water-soaked feet.

And much like the long standing tradition, logrolling isn't new to The Centre.

The Centre has done logrolling since the YMCA was still here in New Richmond and began about three years ago, Vanderloop said.

"The Centre continues logrolling currently because it's a different kind of Aquatics program."

In addition to being fun and different, logrolling has a number of health benefits. Vanderloop said the most obvious benefit is improved balance.

"Kids are constantly balancing themselves on top of the log, trying not to fall off. In turn they are working on their fine and gross motor skills, athleticism, body awareness, agility, endurance, confidence and concentration; all the while having fun and learning a new sport."

Vanderloop said all the kids who try logrolling seem to love it. She said in the last year around 30 different youth tried logrolling at The Centre, and many sign up again and again.

The most recent class started in January. Another logrolling session will start in early March.


Love the game of soccer but not enough to brave the freezing temperatures and snow covered fields? The Centre has a fun alternative to soccer, that can be played inside the gym during the cold winter months.

Futsal is variation of soccer, usually played indoors in a smaller playing area using a weighted ball. There are two teams of five (including one goalie on each team) and they substitute on the fly.

Centre Fitness Director Tate Wheeler said Mike Giannini, one of the youth soccer coaches, approached him with the idea in the fall of 2009.

"After talking through the details, we decided it was definitely something we should move forward with. Many of the New Richmond teams drive to Stillwater to play in Futsal leagues and we thought it would be great to give kids and parents another option in town," he said.

There are two age groups that play futsal at The Centre. The U13 and younger play from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and the U14 and older group play from 6:30-7:30 p.m on Sunday nights, in The Centre gymnasium.

Wheeler said futsal is an up-tempo game and because the playing area is so much smaller than the average soccer field, players are forced to make quick decisions and use good technique and ball control skills.

Soccer and futsal are similar but have a few distinct differences. The main differences beyond the weighted ball is the five players at a time per team, compared to 11 with soccer.

"Substituting on the fly is one of the more unique components of Futsal, There is also no offsides or throw ins in Futsal," Wheeler said.

The weighted ball creates some added challenges to the game.

"The weighted ball does not bounce as much as a regular soccer ball so the kids are forced to make short, quick passes in small areas," Wheeler said.

Logrolling and futsal are just two of the unique activies offered at The Centre. To find out more about programs and pricing visit The Centre's website at or call 715-246-2252.

To find out more information about logrolling at The Centre, e-mail Heidi Vanderloop at hvander or call 715-246-2252

To find out more information about futsal at The Centre, e-mail Wheeler at or call 715-246-2252.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048