I have a confession. When I know I’m going to pass Iggy’s statue, I get a bad case of butterflies. My heart starts racing, I turn my phone camera on to check my hair, and I tell myself to act casual.
But it’s not what you think. Sure, St. Ignatius is a great guy, and his statue is a sight to behold, but he’s not the reason for my fan-girlish behavior. It is at this sacred spot that the BC Parkour team meets to begin their practices. I know it’s a slim chance that I’ll see them: depending on what President Zach DiCostanzo is teaching the team that day, they could be anywhere on campus, possibly even somewhere in Boston. Yet the elusive mystery of BCPK only adds to their appeal. Few have seen the fifteen or so of them in action, but those who do never forget it.
My first time was late one night on my way to a meeting in Higgins. I noticed two guys fearlessly scaling the wall on the landing of the Million Dollar Stairs. I was flabbergasted, and didn’t really understand the purpose of this, until Zach explained to me that it was the equivalent of the ring of bubbles in Finding Nemo, “When you can climb Higgins wall, you’re official.” But parkour is not just Spiderman-like stunts. In fact, it’s much more meaningful.
When I asked Zach what parkour actually was, he gave me a surprising answer, “Parkour is defined as moving from point a to point b as fast and efficient as possible, and by getting over obstacles. Parkour actually gets confused with free-running all the time. Free-running takes more expression, it’s less about moving between points and more like if you want to do a flip, you flip. It’s all about efficiency and expression.” As matter-of-factly as Zach stated this definition, I still found it difficult to wrap my head around. Here he was, sitting with insanely toned muscles telling me that parkour was an efficient and artful form of transportation. Probing for the answer to why this art resulted in huge muscles, I learned that BCPK is made up of extremely passionate tracers [those who parkour] who love what parkour is and have created an admirable philosophy they live by.
What is amazing about BCPK is how dedicated they all are to the sport, and to one another. Zach told me about how it’s not unusual to see members staying after practice to work on their techniques until it’s too dark to see, and even how one friend records the amount of calories he burns for fun, and the number ranks in at 2,000 a practice. Beyond the physical commitment, the BCPK team is also emotionally strong. Zach is incredibly proud of the sense of community the guys have developed, and the supportive environment that is unrivaled by the rest of the sports teams at BC resulting from the fact that parkour is collaborative and not at all competitive.
This welcoming environment is reflected through Zach’s invitation and encouragement for those willing to give BCPK a try. For those interested, he says, “We have a fan page [BCPK], or they can find me on Facebook, just send me a message, I’ll always respond, and I’ll accept anyone who wants to know about parkour or to try into the group for our actual club. It’s very relaxed, the more you show up the more you learn, but it’s up to you to come when you can. We usually have two practices a week and then a jam on Saturday where we go into Boston and put what we learned to the test.”
If you’re not sold on parkour yet, or rather on your ability to participate in such impressive stunts, don’t worry. Part of what is so appealing about BCPK is their view on the sport and on human nature. Zach emphasizes the potential and ability of everyone. The guys of BCPK are very in touch with the mind/body connection and they have a great respect and appreciation for what the body can do. Take it from Zach, himself:
“In parkour, you’re not going to do something you know you can’t do. If you have a doubt about doing it, you just can’t do it. It’s why we teach everyone to know how to land and how to fall. If you know those, you won’t get hurt. You have control of your body so you know you’re going to be successful. Don’t do anything you know you’re not going to do. As a mentor of mine, Danny Ilabaca, said, 'Choose not to fall.' Parkour is about making yourself better through movement, choosing what your body can do. It’s not about can’t, its can—just not yet.”
Besides the awesomeness of that statement and the can-do attitude, BCPK also has a history to be proud of that the student body of BC should celebrate. Parkour, itself, has only been around for 40 years. It was because of the talent and dedication of two past BC students, twins Matt and Greg Milano, that parkour clubs at colleges all over America gained credibility. The twins sent a video of them and their friends doing parkour at BC to the the World Free-running and Parkour Federation, and the WFPF was so impressed they asked the Milanos to join the federation to help other colleges develop parkour teams around the country. BC was the first college to become an affiliated team of WFPF. It was this that launched college parkour in the US, thanks to the Milanos. Now there’s a branch under the WFPF specifically for colleges that allows teams like BCPK to receive the funding, recognition, and insurance they deserve.
BCPK is the real deal. They have the history, talent, and ability comparable to that of the greatest sports teams out there. But BCPK is so much more than just another sport; they’re artists and innovators who work with the most important mediums there are: the mind and body. While Zach is most proud of the phenomenal community tracers all over the country have, I think it’s time for the community here at BC to match the support generated from within BCPK.
Zach’s last comments for those unfamiliar with the world of parkour at BC are as follows: “It’s amazing. If you go anywhere in world, tracers will take you in and train with you, we’re all one big family. BCPK is working with other schools like BU and some out in North Carolina, and all over the country, to bring them all under one banner to try and do joint events with them. It’s community building, athletic, and art. Not a bunch of psychotic people jumping off walls, like a lot of people and colleges think. BCPK is an independent organization as of now, but we’re pushing for a recognition from BC, we’ve got an undergraduate government body now, more members, insurance coverage, and we’re so much more now than we were even 2 years, ago. BCPK has grown exponentially. And we’re really proud to help so many more people start to train and embrace our philosophy.” Once you do, you will undoubtedly crush on BCPK, too.All images via Facebook/bostoncollegeparkour