The Little Hawk


An Athlete Of Nature

Working outside of school sports, Ronnie McDowell uses PARKOUR and FREE RUNNING to be an athlete in the natural world.

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Ronnie McDowell ‘18 has never considered himself to be the athletic type when it came to school sports.

However, after being introduced to parkour and free running from watching YouTube videos four years ago, his life changed dramatically.  

“I was always drawn to that kind of acrobatic type of movement.”

Ronnie’s creative and fluid free running has led him to more than just his own entertainment. With over 1,300 subscribers on YouTube, Ronnie has not only found joy in watching videos, but also found joy in making videos himself.

Parkour’s effects on Ronnie extend beyond exercise and entertainment – he uses it to express himself, and even has sponsors.

“Parkour has led me to a number of sponsorships, I’ve met a ton of really awesome people through it, and believe it or not, it’s actually made me learn a lot more about myself,”  McDowell said. “It’s something that’s fun to do when I have free time and it’s something that makes me happy.”

Making videos has been Ronnie’s biggest motivation thus far into his career.

Ronnie McDowell performing a gap jump in downtown Iowa City. WARNING: stunts performed by a trained professional.

Brady Vanlo
Ronnie McDowell performing a gap jump in downtown Iowa City. WARNING: stunts performed by a trained professional.

“A big part of why people do parkour is making YouTube videos,”  McDowell said. “Making videos helps free runners get exposed other people that share the same passion for free running as they do and that will help their career,”

Let alone, through the success Ronnie has found and the hard work he has put into Parkour, he does not consider it to be a sport.

“Technically, parkour can’t really be classified as a sport, ” McDowell said, “to me,parkour isn’t about competition against others, but more about progression and improving yourself.”

On the other hand, like many outdoor activities, parkour does have its risk. A risk that has stopped many people from attempting the activity itself, fear.

“Originally when you see something in free running that you think looks cool and you go to attempt it in the real world you’ll most likely feel scared,” McDowell said,  “personally, what I do is I mess around with the stunt somewhere safe like in a gym until I get a good understanding of it. Then I’ll take it outside to see what I can do with it,”

Due to the age Ronnie began his parkour career at, he has been a big inspiration to other free runners and likes to encourage everybody to try parkour.

“Everybody starts at their own level,” McDowell said, “it doesn’t matter what speed you progress at or what you want to start off doing, just go for it. There’s no pressure at all when it comes to parkour,”

Ronnie is also no stranger to the self- satisfaction and injuries of performing parkour.

“It’s a giant adrenaline rush and we’re not doing [parkour] for the looks or the money, we’re doing it because we enjoy doing it.””

— Ronnie McDowell

“There have been many times where I’m not satisfied with where I’m at in my career and I ask myself why I even am doing parkour in the first place,” McDowell said, “but in the end I always end up being satisfied because when I keep putting hard work into what I’m doing I’ll end up getting some results sooner or later,”

Limitation has not held Ronnie back in his parkour career as well.

“There have been times when I’ve been really reckless and went out and attempted something that I didn’t practice that well, which is definitely not recommended,” McDowell said. “Over the years, you’ll get to learn more about your body and know what you can or can’t do.”

With the growth of parkour rapidly increasing over the past years, Ronnie wants parkour and free running to be seen as not something dangerous or showing off, but something positive.

“When a lot of people see me or other people do parkour, they like to assume we’re just showing off, really we just want people to know that we do what we do simply because it’s fun,” McDowell said. “It’s a giant adrenaline rush and we’re not doing [parkour] for the looks or the money, we’re doing it because we enjoy doing it.”

About the Contributor
Brady Vanlo, Sports Editor

Junior. Third year on staff for the Little Hawk. This year I will be taking on the task as Video Editor alongside Estie Dillard and I will also be keeping...

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An Athlete Of Nature