Name: Brian Stearns
World Rank: #8
Hometown: Oconomowoc, WI
Stearns competes with Efer Lopez-Christopherson at the 2015 Lumberjack World Championships(Contributed photo)
USLRA: You had a good 2015 season, your third full year as a pro. You made a semi finals appearance at World Championships and had several top 5 finishes overall. What was the difference for you this past year after some struggles your first two years?
Stearns: I think it’s my training and the experience I’m gaining in the sport. This year I was working at the lumberjack show in the Dells. I was training every single day. And I was getting the experience in all around fitness as well with chopping, sawing, climbing, rolling, and Boom. And it just kind of came together this year.
USLRA: What was it like at LWC rolling in the Semi Finals in front of several thousand people?
Stearns: It was a real good experience. I faced Brian Duffy and I was going in real excited. He’s a five time world champion, really good guy. He just has more experience than me and he really stepped up with the win. It’s a lot different ballgame when you get out on the log in that situation. All of a sudden all the pressure comes down on you in this one moment. And you never roll well under extreme amounts of pressure. So I’ve got to figure out a way to make it more like a training environment where I’m having fun out there, that’s really how you have your best rolls out there. So now I’m working on making that transition.
USLRA: You mentioned working at the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack show this past summer. You seem to be evolving into an all around Timber Sport athlete, especially over the past year.
Stearns: It was a real good learning experience this summer. I got a chance to learn some of the other events so I could be fully ranked as a Lumberjack-Iron Jack. I’m not proficient in all the events but I’m working my way up. I started doing the speed climb this year so that was a good experience. Next year I plan on doing the semi pro underhand chop. And gradually as I keep going I’d like to perfect the one’s I’ve started and branch into some new Lumberjack sports.
USLRA: You grew up outside of Milwaukee, learning from John Hallett, one of the top coaches in the sport of Log Rolling. What has he meant to your career?
Stearns: That entire program was such a great experience. That’s what got me into the sport. John and his program really got me into it. And once I turned 16, I started coaching there so that brought a whole new perspective for me. I learned how to not only think about myself but also help others. In that process I helped myself because I’m seeing what it looks like when someone’s doing a certain thing wrong and then I’m able to think about how I would correct it myself and then pass that on. It was a really good experience there.
USLRA: You currently go to school at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. This fall you’ve been helping out with the Coulee Region Log Rolling program in La Crosse. How has that gone?
Stearns: It’s a different program, and I’m coming in doing a new thing for me. I’ve seen a lot of progress with the kids right away. Being able to come in and see a student at a certain level and within a few weeks become a lot more proficient roller has been great. I really like that, really like the aspect of being able to see the growth in other rollers. And it’s good to see the sport continuing with the next generation.