In their fourth year as a team, the Colorado State University Climbing Team has taken first place at the USA Climbing Collegiate National Championship for the second year in a row.
According to Jake Gadwa, a master’s immunology student at CSU and coach for the team, the climbing team was started in 2012 by two students who were passionate about climbing and wanted to create a team to unite all the climbers attending CSU.
“I started out as a member and instantly it clicked,” Gadwa said. “I ran track for eight years and I’ve always had some sort of competitive sport I’ve done.”
President of the team and senior business major Kaitlyn Hill said that the club has attended the national competition for three years and has won for the last two years. The entire team has between 40 and 50 members, according to Hill, and of those members, about 25 competed in nationals.
Hill said her favorite part of the team and of climbing is that it is able to combine individual and team aspects to bring all the climbers together.
“It’s a very collective sport,” Hill said. “My favorite part of it is making new friends and seeing everybody improve.”
According to Cody Moore, team member and nutrition and food science senior, the team practices in three areas of climbing: bouldering, sport climbing and speed climbing. Moore competed in the sport climbing section when the team went to the national competition in San Diego, California.
For Moore, the team provides not only a positive community aspect, but also provides a space for people with like interests to come together and support one another.
“The people are what make it — there’s such a cool vibe,” Moore said. “Having people to work out with and get stronger with is fantastic.”
Gadwa said the team was created with the primary purpose of creating and building on the climbing community and the secondary purpose was to go to climbing competitions.
“It’s a good workout and it’s mentally stimulating as well, because you have to problem-solve,” Gadwa said.
For one member of the team, winning the national championships was a massive personal accomplishment not only for the team, but for her as well.
“It meant a ton to even be able to get to nationals and then to actually win something after my first full year of not being injured,” sophomore chemistry and sociology major Angela Stroud said.
Stroud endured two ankle reconstruction surgeries after snapping the ligaments in both of her ankles the summer before her freshman year, Stroud said as she remembered one of her injuries.
“Climbing’s always been a big part of my life — I’ve gone through a lot of injuries, but have always come back,” Stroud said. “I’ve been climbing most my life. I started about eight years ago, when I was in sixth grade.”
Stroud competed in sport and speed climbing at the national competition and took first in the speed competition.
Stroud said the team is very close, and with climbing, community is an important aspect, since climbing is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging.
“The thing a lot of people don’t realize about climbing is that it’s a hugely physical sport, but the other half is completely mental,” Stroud said. “You could be the strongest person, but if your mental game isn’t in it, you’re not going to get up the wall. With the support of your teammates and friends cheering you on, that’s what pushes you that extra mile.”
Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @MegFischer04.