Published May 3, 2013
Springfield, Ohio – A walk around Wittenberg University’s picturesque campus offers a wide range of sights and sounds, from the beautiful to the interesting to the unusual. As Silas Newcomb, class of 2014 from Summit, NJ, cruises around using his Vurtego, an extreme pogo stick, he definitely falls into the latter category.
“The sport of Xpogo (extreme pogo) means a lot to me,” Newcomb said. “There are roughly 30 of us in the world who actively pogo. It’s a lot of work but a whole lot of fun!”
A business major with a focus in management, a psychology minor and a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Newcomb can be seen pogoing on campus as fraternity brothers Sam Wilke, class of 2014 from Cincinnati, and Sage Hazarika, class of 2014 from Brooklyn, NY, skateboard alongside him. Wilke tries his skill on the pogo, but he prefers to skateboard.
“When most people think of pogo sticking they think of a little wooden frame with a spring that bounces six inches off the ground,” Newcomb said, “which is why I love seeing people’s reactions.”
Newcomb’s favorite stunt is the “superman,” a back flip, and he has achieved heights of seven feet (the world record is currently nine feet, six inches). He trains for competition on a trampoline with a stick that has no bounce.
He began playing with a regular pogo stick when he was in second grade, but he became enthusiastic about extreme pogo when he was a high school freshman and began training to compete in Pogopalooza, the world championship of the sport with competitors coming from Canada, England, Australia and the United States. The Pogopalooza has been held annually since 2004, and Newcomb first competed in 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Although there are three extreme pogo sticks available, Newcomb prefers the Vurtego, a thermoplastic cylinder that operates on air pressure, which propels the rider into the air allowing for heights to leap over bars in high jump competitions and to do flips and other tricks. In addition to competing, pogo athletes perform in online videos and parades.
Newcomb looks forward to obtaining an internship with Xpogo LLC, which manages the global operations and development of the growing sport of extreme pogo. He also plans to compete in the 2013 Pogopalooza, which is scheduled to be held in New York’s Times Square.
“When I was a senior in high school, I didn't really care where I went to school,” Newcomb said. “My dad (Peter L. Newcomb) graduated in 1982, which is why I came all the way out to Ohio from New Jersey. I love Wittenberg to death and wouldn't have chosen differently if I could have.”
Written by: Phyllis Eberts
Photo by: Erin Pence