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On the Spot with a UNH Lumberjack: Alaina Tocci

Aidan: Before I get started, I have to settle something: is it the “Lumberjack” or the “Woodsmen” Team?

Tocci: It’s kind of both. We’re officially the UNH Woodsmen Team, but we compete as the UNH “Lumberjacks.” So you could say our team title is different than our sport title. It’s interchangeable though, so don’t worry about it—just call us lumberjacks competing on the UNH Woodsmen Team.

Aidan: Got it, thank you! So what exactly is it that you do?

Using belay equpiment is one of many tasks they tackle.

Tocci: Pretty much anything that you can imagine that has to do with wood, or you know, lumberjacks—we try to do it best, competitively so that we can win. So we do all different kinds of sawing with partners, by ourselves or with a team, whether it is a six-foot long saw alone or with a partner, four-foot long bow-saw blade. We do relay races where we try to build a fire or boil water faster than anyone else. We throw wood to try to get as many points as possible. We roll logs; we roll on top of logs, which is called “burling.” Anything you can imagine basically.

Aidan: Wow, that sounds pretty intense. Do you train regularly?

Tocci: I kind of wish we did, the way the team has been working is we leave the actual working out to ourselves because we spend so much time working on our actual woodsman skills.

The lumberjack club members compete to start a fire and boil water.

Aidan: And do you need to be crazy physically fit to do this?

Tocci: If you’re a professional than definitely—they train very seriously for this. There’s less competition on the women’s side of the sport so there’s more room for success. For the men though, it is much more competitive, so being more physically fit than your competition is extremely important.

Aidan: Where and when do you practice?

Tocci: We usually practice about two times a week at the Thompson Saw Mill. That’s where all of our equipment is held.

Club members adhering to their title by jacking lumber.

Aidan: So then you train in preparation for meets?

Tocci: Exactly, we have our home meet usually the first weekend in November, which is right here at the Thompson Saw Mill, and we also do all of the collegiate meets throughout the year.

Aidan: How big is the team? How many members do you have?

Tocci: In the past year we’ve had about 12 members and before that we’ve had up to 30, which allowed us to take up to three teams per meet, usually we’re about two teams per meet. But a lot of people are interested this year, which is really exciting. We have about 15 potential members, maybe even more, which is super exciting.

Lumberjack club member recording wood cutting time.

Aidan: What other schools have the same program?

Tocci: Basically any school with a major forestry program; schools in the Midwest, New York, Vermont are all big competitors.

Aidan: So what’s the team’s record for sawing a log in half?

Tocci: UNH alum Kendall Kunelius currently holds the school record for sawing a 16-inch diameter log in under 32 seconds. She then went on to break the world record, getting that time to around 11 seconds. Now she’s coming back to coach the team with her husband so we’re all super excited.

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