USLRA: You’ve had an interesting career path as a Timbersport athlete. Growing up in the Hayward area you competed in your teens, took several years off, and then came back two years ago. You also spent some time on the west coast as a kid, which I know took you away from it – what’s it been like to rediscover Timbersports?
Graves: I started log rolling when I was 9 years old, rolled for a quite a few years, but 2008 was the last time I rolled until I picked it up again in 2014. I always missed the sport and I remember one day I started watching some log rolling videos on You Tube and I was thinking, I miss it so much. I really did not have much access to it (while living in Washington) as far as training, so I decided to go out on a limb and decided I’m going to go back to Wisconsin and compete.
USLRA: Was that a tough transition?
Graves: It was kind of tricky to get back in after having not competing for six years. Coming back was cool though, I used to train a lot with Brian Duffy and Dan McDonough was actually the first person that got me a log and helped me make spikes when I was younger. Since coming back I’ve really put my whole heart into it. I got a job doing lumberjack shows for Fred Scheer and I’ll be doing that again this year. It’s kind of just taken off since I’ve come back. I’m really blessed to be able to compete and be around it again. It’s brought so much joy to my life the last few years.
USLRA: While it might take some time to get up to speed as a pro Log Roller, you’ve shockingly become one of the world’s top Boom Runners very quickly since returning. You finished sixth at World Championships two years ago, and came in third this past summer. You seemed to have picked it up pretty fast?
Graves: Some people have this strategy where you just try and get a smooth run your first time and then maybe go all out your second one, and that never made any sense to me. I like to go as fast as I can every time. My theory is to get off the log quick and it doesn’t have time to move around. The faster you go the less the logs are going to move. And it’s really worked out for me.
USLRA: It seems like the past few years and heading into this season, you’ve had some pretty good competitors to train with, some athletes who can really push you?
Graves: It’s been a blessing to train with so many good people, especially being back in Hayward now. I boom run with Alec Duffy, Charlie Fenton once in a while, Meredith (Ingbretson), Cladia (Duffy), and Sam Hadley. As far as Log rolling, there’s so many great people, J.R. (Salzman), Brian (Duffy), just everybody in the area has really helped me out and everybody has been so nice. Coming back, I really had no problems meeting people again and that was really one of my biggest concerns coming back.
USLRA: In high school you were a pretty good basketball player. You were also good enough to get a college scholarship to play soccer. Have those experiences helped you as a professional Timbersport athlete? Is there a connection there?
Graves: I think there is as far as staying in shape. As far as soccer, most of the sport is using your legs and so that helps. Quick foot movement transfers over to log rolling and especially the boom run. You have to be quick with your feet. And I think basketball too, I was always trying to jump higher, doing different leg workouts. I think it transfers over. It’s really about balance and being able to stay on a log and keep your feet moving, and keep your mind right all at the same time.
USLRA: Thanks for your time
Graves: Thank you.