My first trip to the USA Climbing National Championships was an indelible adventure. Accompanied by three vivid climbers and the ardent head coach of the Sierra Climbing Team, I felt an acute sense of privilege to join them there. The climbers that had overcome the aggressive mechanism that allows them passage into such an event were three incredible girls: Jenna, Marlee, and Jenny. The head coach that assisted me through the turbulent process was Brian Sweeney, or simply just Sweeney.
Sweeney is a forthright person with a passion for rock climbing that I have not seen matched by any other human I have come across. I could not have asked for a more electrified person to travel, coach, and watch hotel television with. He brought enthusiasm and wisdom to the competition that could not have been replaced by anyone else.
Jenna and Marlee have some of the best smiles. There have been plenty of practices when I have showed up tired and distressed, only to be awoken by their jubilant and whimsical attitudes. Watching them compete at the national championships was pretty awesome, but also bittersweet. Both are a core part of the Sierra Climbing Team, yet they are now growing up and moving on to new adventures as college students. Coaching such talented individuals is humbling and an absolute honor. I can only wish them the best, but I know they are such amazing people that they do not need any wishes; they will annihilate whatever is put in front of them with first-rate style.
Jenny might be one of the most dedicated, tenacious, and intelligent people I have ever encountered. Beyond climbing, her mind is brilliant and her soul ripe with compassion. Her climbing is like watching a grandmaster of movement, dancing up the wall with every motion in foolproof fluidity. I will never forget seeing her sitting and waiting to climb her last route. Her eyes full with terror united with unabated focus, then I saw her take a deep breath as her shoulders dropped and relaxed; she was ready! As soon as she pulled herself onto the first hold, I knew what the rest of the crowd was about to observe was going to be sensational. Jenny ended up placing second at the national championships; think about that for a moment! With her performance, Jenny earned a spot on the US National Team, and will be competing at the International Federation of Sport Climbing World Championships later this year in Austria.
There is a significance to coaching such a prodigious group of kids, and I am not referring just to climbing. Each and every kid that is a part of the Sierra Climbing Team delivers a unique personality that cultivates the beauty and wondrous spirit that I see at every practice. The Sierra Climbing Team, I can say with great zeal, has inspired me to sharpen my own character and endeavor on a path to better myself. The kids are the future, and I feel pretty stoked to learn from them every week!
Keep climbing and crushing life!