Matt McDonald, the vice president of Platty Slack, discusses the trend that has students walking tight-rope style from tree to tree on webbed bands called slacklines.
By Matt McDonald
I sit on the piece of one-inch webbing, the grass cool against my bare feet, and take in the world around me. Hawkins Hall is fit for a postcard under a pristine September sky. A light breeze carries mist from the fountain across the gravel path beside the pond. Green leaves fading to yellow, trees cast long shadows. Between the shadows: slacklines.
On the purple trickline, tighter and springier than a typical slackline, Max bounces from his butt to his chest, spins 180 degrees over the line and lands on his chest again. The Mojo Tap Spin (scroll down for video) — he’s been working on it for weeks. Now he nails it every time.
The Platty Slack slackline club was founded in March by club President Keagan French. The Spring Slackfest, which took place on the lawn at Hawkins Hall, attracted professional slackliners, local media and more than 300 students. In October, Platty Slack was granted permanent status by the Student Association.
Beside the trickline, Casey surfs a loose slackline. His legs move quickly side to side while his torso stays centered, eyes fixed on the anchor tree. Left of him on a tight, low line, Kelly helps one freshman take her first steps. Then she guides another through her first static pose — the drop knee. Kneeling on the line, trying to stop it from shaking, she falls off. All three of them laugh as she gets up. Then she tries the trick again.
More friends sit in the grass watching, snapping videos and pictures. One scarfs his Subway. Another blares dubstep music from a red wireless speaker in his lap.
I lift my right foot onto the slackline, letting my left leg dangle. I lock my eyes on the tree at the other end of the line, about 60 feet away, and breathe. These breaths are not shallow chest breaths, but deep inhalations that expand my diaphragm, followed by long exhalations that release tension. As I stand, I continue to breathe tightness out of my arms, shoulders, back, legs. When the line begins to quiver, I relax my feet, channeling calm into the webbing. I step.
As I walk, I keep my shoulders still. My arms and legs flow with the line, maintaining my balance. I imagine this slackline on its own, spanning the two trees peacefully and unmoving. Every move it makes comes from me. If I am tense, it will shake. I can’t fool the line. It senses whether I am overconfident or under-confident. If I take it for granted, it will put me in my place. If I expect it to kick me off, it will.
As my mind buzzes, my body stays the course. I reach the end of the line and step off — a serene feeling. Balance is addictive, and that’s why we’re all out here. Slacklines challenge and reward each of us differently. Allie, ecstatic from walking her first full line, now tries drop knee after drop knee, pushing her limits. Keagan loves introducing people to slacklining and seeing their smiles. But I’m not sure he’ll rest until he lands a backflip.
The Platty Slackers have formed a new Plattsburgh community. They welcome anyone interested in slacklining — anyone seeking balance. All it takes is the first step.
Next story: WXXA Fox23 Sets, Equipment to Enhance TV Studios.
For more information about the SUNY Plattsburgh alumni newsletter, please contact:
Michelle Marasch Ouellette
Director of Public Relations and Publications
Phone: (518) 564-3095
Alumni can subscribe to Calling Card by joining the Plattsburgh Alumni Community (PAC).