To most, staying balanced means juggling classes and friends. To Austin Ring, it’s a lifestyle that represents so much more.
“All of my hobbies tend to revolve around balance,” says the fourth-year physics student who practices rock stacking, skating, slacklining and most notably, kendama.
For those unfamiliar with kendama, Ring describes it as, “an old Japanese game that is essentially ball-in-cup on steroids.”
He discovered the game back in 2011 through his passion for filming skate videos and other unique tricks, and he’s been practicing ever since. He has since won a sponsorship contest hosted by the Minnesota-based company, Sweets Kendamas.
Still, he confesses that playing the game is no walk in the park, as there are countless tricks to earn, and even the type of paint used on the ball can affect the difficulty level. He’s found a great sense of community with other players.
“Everyone hopes to see everyone else hit whatever trick it is they’re trying to land,” Ring says. “It’s a big pool of positive vibes.”
In addition to playing with the kendama, Ring has also ventured into the kendama marketplace by customizing his own.
He can also be found slacklining on the Horeseshoe. The sport is similar to tightrope walking and, not surprisingly, is extremely difficult as well. Since mastering walking on the line, he has been able to practice tricks as well.
Ring says it’s all about dedication.
“To be truly comfortable with yourself on the line so that you can start doing more than just walking takes a serious amount of work,” he says.
Like kendama, Ring has been honing his slacklining skills for five or six years. While many of us lose track of our high school hobbies, he’s made sure to find time to practice and edit videos of his kendama and slacklining tricks alongside classes and his involvement with the Mountaineering and Whitewater Rafting Club. It takes effort to maintain these skills, but Ring has proven his ability to cultivate his talent and conquer new challenges presented by his hobbies with a great deal of persistence and a truly adventurous spirit.