My (forced) evolution from climber to coach.
Over the past year I’ve gone from climbing 10+ hours a week to coaching from the ground. Climbing was a huge part of growing up for me as a kid, and I’m so happy to be coaching a youth team now and spreading the love. However, it’s been a difficult journey to accept my wrecked wrist and I suppose, in a way, relinquish my youth.
High school ended, my first break-up was had, and my injuries landed me, a restless youth, on the couch. Now I’m about to finish my first year at university as an undergrad sociology student and I no longer feel a sense of hopelessness.
Funny enough, my goal isn’t even really to heal and get back to climbing anymore. Sure, if I woke up magically healed tomorrow, I would love to hit the crag with my buddies. But while climbing will always have a special place in my heart, there are so many other things out there I’d like to experience beyond it.
Climbing is a dangerous sport. As a kid, I don’t think I really took any of my 8-hour boulder sessions or whipper lead falls seriously. Now that I’m not climbing and my bent fingers, achy back and fragile shoulder still linger, I think I’m seeing the picture more clearly. The physical toll of climbing is absolutely 110% worth it until the moment it isn’t.
Now when I see the kids on my team knee dropping after 1-handed dynos or taking huge falls, I think a lot more about where they’ll be at in 10 years, and how to keep them healthy enough that they’ll still be able to climb. When they pull a 540-move day at the wall, I’m simultaneously proud and regrettably cognisant of the muscles they’ve built and the tendons they’ve worn.
There are days when coaching a group of rowdy kids at something I can no longer enjoy is difficult. But every time I find myself dispirited, they find a way to remind me of the wonderfulness of the sport. Today one of my kids completed 16.5 laps, climbing up and down one of our walls without a break. He pushed himself beyond what he thought he was capable of, and inspired the teammates climbing beside him to do more laps than they would’ve done otherwise.
It’s moments like these that make me so grateful for my full experience with climbing, injuries included.
I now know that, while I won’t be able to climb for a while yet, I don’t have to give up the adventures I’d associated it with. I’m going to travel alone to the Rocky Mountains this summer and though I won’t be climbing them, as I’d imagined, I will be hiking and camping and living and breathing among them. I’m going to find my independence in just as spectacular a way.
So when I see my kids climbing as I find myself on the ground, I couldn’t be more excited.