Monday, September 17, 2012

High School Climbing Clubs in the Newspaper

In my junior year of high school, I helped create a rock climbing club at my local high school entitled the Fremont Bouldering Club. At first, our membership drifted between a couple of kids per week and only committed members showing up to meetings, but over time, we started gaining momentum which eventually led up to over fifty active members attending multiple events per year.

Because of our success, we were able to organize more events, including climbing movie nights, club trips to competitions all over the Bay Area, trash cleanups, and even a club trip to Bishop! Other high schools from around the district joined ours, and pretty soon we had kids from all over Silicon Valley with no prior experience in climbing trying it out for the first time and loving it. An article about our club was featured in our local newspaper recently. Here are some photos of the event:

Yann De Bleecker, Cory Ibanez, and Keith Batryn
David Gray, Cory Ibanez, Aaron Welch, and Ryan Merril

The crew.

All photos: Jacqueline Ramseyer

My dream is to share my passion for climbing with as many people as are interested, and also to inspire the future generations of high-schoolers that if you are enthusiastic about something, you should go full steam ahead with it, regardless of what is "mainstream" or not.

These days in the climbing community, we hear this word being thrown around an awful lot due to our bid for the Olympic Games in 2020. With climbing gaining a lot of press centered around the IOC's observation of the World Championships in Paris last week, we need to be putting our best foot forward in order to present ourselves as an organized group of smart, capable, and passionate group of people.

I believe getting climbing more focused on the youth is the next step. With youth prodigies springing up from what seems like EVERYWHERE now, (see my friend and teammate Mirko Caballero for example) it is essential for kids to explore their passion for climbing while they are young. We need this next generation to become a strong group of individuals, ready to represent their respective countries in eight years when the Olympics will hit either Madrid, Istanbul, or Tokyo. Kids should not be forced into climbing, like so many parents try to do to their kids in gymnastics, baseball, etc., but I feel that the opportunity is not quite there yet for kids who are interested in it to pursue it.

With the development of high school climbing clubs, I hope that this step towards the youth will facilitate more interest in the sport as something that anybody can do, regardless of age, gender, or ability. Today's goal is to get climbing incorporated into the education system not only at the collegiate level (CCS) but also into the high school, middle school, elementary school, and club sports level. As we have seen from younger kids these days, and also with the inclusion of paraclimbing in the World Championships, (see the video below at 2:06:00 mark - blind climbing!) climbing is truly the sport for anyone in the world to experience.

What can you do now? Get active in your community! Take your kids climbing, take your grandparents climbing, get out of the house or in front of the computer and go experience life the way it should be - vertically. Let's get this sport off the ground and into the future - where you tell people you climbed in high school and they ask "Varsity or JV?".

Maybe climbing's not your thing. Whatever. My point is, take what you love to do, and pursue it. That's all.

Ok, enough ranting for the moment. Thanks for reading, please leave any feedback you have below. Check back soon for trip beta on one of the world's best crags: Tonsai, Thailand!

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