It’s only been about four months since Matt Colvin began slacklining. Now, you can see him doing back flips off the 2-inch-thick rope. Colvin picked up the hobby when he was on vacation with friends and hasn’t been able to stop since. Now he wants to share his hobby with students by creating a club on campus.
At first glance, a slackline could be mistaken for a tightrope; however, the flat rope is a little thicker and you can usually find it set up a few feet off of the ground. The line can be set up pretty much anywhere, “all you really need is two trees,” the undeclared freshman said. For the most part, you’ll pass him on the student center quad hovering in between two trees closer to Schmidt Hall.
At first, Colvin admitted that he was “really bad at it.” However, he wanted to get better at the trade so he bought one for himself and kept working at it. “I’m not afraid to fall,” Colvin said. The amateur slackliner can not only walk across the line with ease, but has mastered his own set of tricks.
He can walk halfway across the rope, lay down and then prop himself back up. He can bounce himself from the ground to a standing position and for an always “in-awe” reaction, he can backflip off of the rope onto the ground. However, he has bigger things in mind. “I want to learn how to land back on the rope after doing the backflip,” Colvin said.
He enjoyed what he was doing so much that he wanted to bring it to campus and see if anyone else wanted to give it a try. Colvin sets up the slackline at least once a day when the weather’s nice, hoping to attract students to come and try it out. Colvin is always willing to help out anyone who wants to attempt it. He’ll reach his hand into the air to give any newbies some stability as they inch their way across.
“Look at the tree in front of you, don’t look at the line — it moves too much.” This is the advice Colvin will tell you if you ask him for a turn. No socks — Colvin recommends you wear shoes or go barefoot when you try your luck on the slackline.
Senior John Reilly was one of the students that Colvin drew in. “For the past few weeks I saw the slack liner doing his thing and I was instantly hooked,” Reilly said. “I really wanted to try it for myself.” That’s just what he did — with Colvin’s help of course. Reilly admitted he was scared at first, but with Colvin’s help he felt encouraged. “I want to try it again and be able to walk across without his aid,” Reilly said.
Colvin doesn’t expect anyone to make it across on their first try. His hopes are simply that they want to try again. “You have one person out of the ten people who try it who want to come back the next day and want to learn more,” Colvin said . “It’s cool seeing the faces come back.”
Colvin hopes to start a club next semester and that those interested students will come back and join. His plan is to incorporate other students on campus with unique talents — the infamous juggler Ted Paz and yo-yoer Max Samuels, to name a few.
“It’s the idea of street performance,” Colvin said. “It’s juggling, yo-yoing, slacklining, devil sticks — just cool random talents that people enjoy watching.” Their hopes are to raise money through their performances and donate it to their favorite charities at the end of the day.
Colvin is soaking up the last weeks of his time walking above the quad. He is still trying to find a place to set up the slackline inside, but hopes to find somewhere before the weather gets too cold.
Until then, he’s working on making his club go from a pretty plan to an even prettier reality. For now, if you’re willing to muster up the courage to give slacklining a try, Colvin is more than willing and able to help you out. If you don’t see him on the quad, you’ll find him. Remember, all you need is two trees.