CSU Climbing coach extends her passion to others

Mack Beaulieu

CSU Climbing coach and sophomore communications student Anna Kelly extends her passion for climbing to others. (Photo courtesy of Anna Kelly)

Some individuals are born with motivation, but most need guiding hands in the pursuit of their passions. 

Colorado State climber Anna Kelly has been honing her craft for the last 10 years and is now extending her motivation to others. She is currently a member and coach of the CSU Climbing Team and a nationally ranked collegiate climber.


Last weekend, Kelly qualified for adult open nationals. While she’s been in a few adult competitions before, this represents a new level in her competitive career.

Kelly said she reaches for the top of her sport in competition and hopes to help others reap the benefits of climbing.

“If you’re excited about it then you should maintain it,” said the sophomore who studies communications.

She said the best way to do that is to focus on the value of the activity without putting too much emphasis on the competition. Driven by a goal to encourage and guide her athletes without putting unfair pressure on them to win, Kelly said she pays attention to the needs of everybody.

“We’re all there because we love climbing and want to get better,” Kelly said. “We don’t want to pressure anyone because we want anyone to have the chance.”

Freshman forestry major Lauren Thompson describes Kelly’s coaching style as dynamic and tailored to the individual climber based on things like body type and experience level.

“She’s really good at breaking it down into things you can understand, mostly terminology on technique,” Thompson said.

Kelly has strong convictions about doing what brings you joy and sees the value of that in her role as a climbing coach.

“I’ve never seen this quantity of people maintain excitement for so long,” Kelly said.

Kelly organizes group practices, hikes, dinners and other social events. Valeria Aspinall, a sophomore who previously climbed with a team in Costa Rico, said it’s easy to stay excited when you have a coach that supports you.


“It’s definitely helped me adjust,” Aspinall said. “I had a very close knit community of climbers there (in Costa Rica). I was basically looking for the same thing. And when I found the team and went to the practice with the team, it was basically like that. Everybody goes to class to basically get stronger, but a lot of it is the social aspect.”

Kelly said she is “living the dream” with the CSU Climbing Team and is proud of her group of students. But her real interest extends to youth climbers who she feels are more vulnerable to the harsh aspects of competition.

Kelly wants to make sure that kids have the right mindset about why they climb and what the benefits are outside of winning. She said those patterns are much easier to establish as a child.

“If a coach or a teacher isn’t doing their job, it can mess people up,” Kelly said. “As a kid, the meanest people I ever met were adults, people that were supposed to be encouraging were just really mean to me.”

Kelly said she had negative experiences in her own right. She was once told by a coach that she was too accident prone, which ended her gymnastics career.

It doesn’t seem like Kelly could be that kind of coach, according to the sentiments of her students. She genuinely loves the sport, and like much of the climbing community, you can see that she wants to spread that love to others.

Reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached online at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @Macknz_James