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ATHLETE FEATURE - Shana Verstegen

Successful Journey Continues for 4
Time Log Rolling World Champion


Verstegen competes at the Three Rivers Roleo on August 9, 2014(photo courtesy Rich Magnone)


PAYING HER DUES

“I’ll tell you about my amateur career. We’d go to a tournament, I’d lose both matches and then we’d go out to dinner. And then we went home.”

As Shana Verstegen lets those words out, she does so without hesitation. Her tone reflects somebody describing events from the day before. Not 25 years before. Other athletes have described it as a healthy chip on their shoulder. NBA great Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team. Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was ignored by virtually every division one college program. For Verstegen, who’s on a short list of log rolling’s all-time best, her tone was clear. She hasn’t forgotten.

The 35-year old Verstegen has arguably been the sports best female roller over the past decade. Since 2005, the Madison native has won 20 pro tournaments, four world titles, and finished first or second at the Log Rolling World Championships a remarkable eight times. She’s also a two time boom running world champion.

The truth is Verstegen did not lose every contest during her ten years as an amateur. She readily admits she would occasionally win a few falls and sometimes even win a match. But not many. After turning pro in 1997 at age 17, she continued to struggle. During her late teens and early twenties, she never won a single pro tournament. Verstegen went eight years as a pro without a win, and rarely finished in the top three.

“At LWC we’d always joke that it was a family vacation and we happened to enter the World Championships and lose,” said Verstegen. “But we loved it so much. When you enjoy something enough and stick with it long enough you can do well. I thank my dad (George Martin) very much for this because he was never about winning. In fact, he could care less. Every tournament we’d fill up the van and make a trip of it. It would be about the trip and the log rolling was just one step on the trip. I’m very grateful to my dad for being that kind of parent.”


Verstegen competes at the Midwest Championships against Anjali Krongard on June 28, 2014
(photo courtesy Rich Magnone)


TAKING THE NEXT STEP

“In 2006, it helped that I came to World Championships not expecting anything. I was relaxed and just having fun.”

Entering the 2006 season, Tina (Salzman) Bosworth had won eight of the previous 10 World titles. Jenny Atkinson and Lizzie Hoeschler, both considered among the sport’s top rollers, had each won recent titles as well. All three were household names in the Log Rolling world. The 26-year old Verstegen was a nine-year pro who had mostly been a non-factor at World Championships. Those attending the 2006 Log Rolling World Championships in Stillwater, MN, were about to get a surprise.

“I remember every match I went into I was not concerned about winning or losing,” said Verstegen. “There was not a lot of pressure and I didn’t feel the need that I had to perform.”

After quietly winning her first match, Verstegen kept winning. And winning. Verstegen worked her way to the finals, where she defeated 2004 World Champion Lizzie Hoeschler. After 19 years of rolling as both an amateur and pro, Verstegen had captured the first of her four professional world championships. “What happened in 2006 is I started training more,” said Verstegen. “I started to spend more time on the log.”

An enhanced training routine combined with the early lessons from her dad about having fun and falling in love with the sport proved to be the perfect winning combination.


Verstegen wins a fall against Meredith Ingbretson at the Three Rivers Roleo on August 9, 2014
(photo courtesy Rich Magnone)


THE NEXT CHAPTER

“I’m still up in the air if I’m going to compete this year. I don’t know if winning matches will be a possibility.”

For more than 25 years, she’s competed every year. In the early years, George’s van provided the transportation for those countless amateur log rolling vacations. Last summer, Verstegen won the Midwest championship on the pro circuit and finished second (to Hoeschler) at the 2014 Log Rolling World Championships. 2015 is likely to be a very different story.

“My big goal this summer is to raise a baby and get some sleep,” said Verstegen. “If I do compete it will just be for fun.”

Verstegen and her husband Peter are expecting their first child in early June. Verstegen, who’s a personal trainer in Madison, and national fitness spokeswoman, is normally log rolling up to seven times a week by late spring.

“It feels so weird (not to be training) but I plan to travel to the majority of the events,” said Verstegen. Verstegen coaches several Madison area pros and amateurs, and plans on traveling to the majority of them. She’s also not ruling out competing at some point in 2015, even if it means not being at her best. “I’d love to compete at World Championships, but it’s really up in the air. I’ve never done this before. I don’t know how tired I’m going to be.”

“I’ve lost (in my earlier years) and still had fun doing it. I’ve heard people say they’d rather not go if they can’t win, if they have something holding them back,” said Verstegen. “That’s never been my philosophy. I’ve even chatted with some people that if I log roll this year it could destroy my ranking (for 2016). I thought about that for about 30 seconds and realized it just doesn’t matter because I have so much fun.”


(photo courtesy Rich Magnone)
 

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