At 8 years old, growing up within a sport enthusiast family, Owen Graham found his passion for climbing. Ten years later, he brought his passion to Colorado State University. By combining his education in finance and his leadership skills, he has created a lasting impression at CSU as an adviser for its climbing team.
As a former professional climber, Graham traveled around the world for competitions before making his way to Fort Collins. Graham said that his time in foreign countries taught him a sense of camaraderie that he brought to the CSU climbing team.
“It gave me an outlet where I could express my want to manage and coach along with my passion for climbing,” Graham said. “I was extremely passionate about it.”
Graham serves as a mentor to his teammates and organized practices and competitions, which has allowed for successful changes within the team.
Andy Nelson, CSU’s Outdoor Program coordinator, has seen this transition first hand.
“Owen was a big part of the progression of the climbing team being an informal club, to an official student organization and sport club within Campus Recreation,” Nelson said.
This evolution within the team has made all the difference in competitions. The team has competed at regional competitions, and drove to Melbourne, Florida, last year to compete at the national level.
“When we were driving back in that van I had this surreal moment of knowing that it wasn’t just me who accomplished everything; my team accomplished it,” Graham said.
The team placed third in Florida and plans on reaching nationals again.
“(Graham) brought our team confidence going into nationals,” said John Marlatt, a current member of the team. “It was a bonding experience.”
Marlatt did not know Graham on a personal level but understood the accomplishments he brought to the team.
“He is a very capable coach,” Marlatt said. “His strong and unparalleled mental strength transferred on to our team before he left.”
Marlatt said that the team has gotten stronger every year due to Graham’s influence.
When Graham is not advising the CSU team, he travels for International Business Machines Corporation. He maintains a hands-off approach and helps when he can.
“I just kind of help the process in between the new coaches taking over the team and I serve as an adviser for the financials,” Graham said.
From practices to nationals, Graham said his time with the team proved a successful experience for him.
“It was a tough road and a lot of time spent but it was worth it,” he said.
Collegian Reporter Zane Watson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zanerwatson.