Happy Valley Slackers: Penn State’s Unofficial Slacklining Community
Slacklining is a sport gaining popularity across the country, and it’s no different here at Penn State. If you go to any downtown park on a sunny afternoon, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a person hobbling their way across a long strap tied between two trees. These people may be a part of State College’s very own slacklining community: the Happy Valley Slackers.
Made up of a mix of town residents and Penn State students, the Happy Valley Slackers are a group where members combine a passion for the outdoors with an incredible sense of balance. Slackling is a pretty simple in theory: you take a line from any outdoor sporting store and tie it between two trees. From there, the fun begins. Slacklining is a very broad activity; walking, bouncing, or even scooting across the line can be considered part of the slacklining process.
We caught up with Happy Valley Slacker’s founder, Chris Sommers, to determine what makes the group so unique. “You normally don’t meet other slackliners unless you see someone setting up a line,” Sommers said. “With us, people just show up and slackline with each other whenever we want.”
With such a strong slacklining presence in State College, it’s easy to see how the Happy Valley Slackers came to be. “I started [the Happy Valley Slackers] this summer,” Sommers said. “There wasn’t a lot of interest until the semester started. Then it really grew.”
According to Sommers, the club has progressed from a small group of a few students and State College residents to include more than 80 members. These members learn more than how to balance on a line between two trees. “It teaches focus and balance, which can never hurt you in life,” Sommers said.
Don’t go looking for the Slackliners’ listerv just yet though: the group isn’t officially recognized by the Penn State. Though the club has attempted to become official in the eyes of the university, it’s been a difficult process. “It’s hard trying to legitimize with the campus,” said club member Stoff Scott. “When we tried, they told us talk to risk management. When we told risk management about it, they said, ‘Wait, you’re walking around on tightropes?’ It didn’t go well from there.”
The lack of official student-org status doesn’t stop the club members from enjoying their time together. Since the club is made up of both students and State College residents, becoming a member is a great way to meet new people outside of Penn State. Instead of solely meeting on Old Main Lawn, the Happy Valley Slackliners explore other community parks in State College. Slackliner Mitchell Evans said, “I like that people just walk up and just kind of chill. People walk by, and it’s a good discussion piece.”
To learn more about the Happy Valley Slackers, check out their Facebook group.