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Central Coast university's sports team doesn't use bats or balls; team gear includes axes and saws

Abby Savage
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has football, basketball, and baseball teams, and yes, even a timbersports team.

"Cal Poly Loggers" have been competing, and winning in the little known world of "Timbersports" for more than three decades.

When you think about sports teams at colleges on the Central and South Coast, you probably think about things like football, basketball, baseball, and soccer.

But, there’s a team on the South Coast that doesn’t use bats, or balls. Chain saws and axes are part of its gear.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has a logging team, the Cal Poly Loggers. It sounds like a slice of the Old West, and it comes from logging tradition. Cal Poly Professor Samantha Gill is the team’s advisor.

"A lot of people don't know, even when there hear there is a logging team, they don't know what it is," said Gill. "They have chain saw events, sawing events where they use a double bucking saw, they throw axes."

Gill says it stems from old logging camps.

"People would say things like 'I bet I can saw through that log faster than you can', or 'I bet I can hit that can with an axe,'" said Gill.

Cal Poly Loggers
A member of the Cal Poly Loggers team in action.

The Cal Poly Loggers are an offshoot of the university’s forestry related programs. The university is well known for its College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences.

Mark Inman is part of the team. "Basically, it's a traditional Timbersports team," said Inman. "We practice every Friday, and whenever we can through the week."

Inman said it embraces life in the forestry field.

"It's a lot of fun," said Inman. "We get to go out there and kind of play lumberjack, and have some fun with it."

The Cal Poly senior says it's physically challenging, and at times a tad edgy. Most of the team members are studying different aspects of forestry, and want to pursue it as a career.

Members of the coed team do it for fun, but the Cal Poly Loggers are also pretty good at it. They just won their first competition since the pandemic, at the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference and Exhibition in Shasta County. Gill notes that the university’s team is well known in the collegiate Timbersports world.

The team normally takes part with four or five competitions a year, mostly in the fall and spring. There’s actually a professional version of Timbersports which features competitors from around the world which has brought new attention to the sport.