Unleashing Creativity Through Climbing
Climbing has been the catalyst for me to authentically express my inner self. In my pre-climbing days, I identified as a sports enthusiast grappling with ADHD. Engaging in sports year-round, often participating in multiple clubs and travel teams, I also pursued activities like skateboarding, sketching, humorously entertaining classmates, and relishing public performances. My innate love for puzzles and creativity found outlets in various forms, from crafting stories and designing obstacle courses to fashioning my action figures!
In my childhood, I possessed physical strength and a fondness for calisthenic exercises, climbing trees, and navigating boulders and buildings near my home. The challenges of adhering to team sports rules, imposed on me due to my ADHD, prompted me to seek an activity that resonated with my true passions.
Upon unintentionally entering a climbing gym, a mesmerizing feeling enveloped me as I gazed at the walls. Instantly, I knew climbing was the sport I had unknowingly yearned for, fulfilling unspoken desires and answering unexplored questions.
Ditching other extracurricular pursuits, I immersed myself in climbing, a sport that embraced my creative side and provided the variation, freedom, and exploration my mind craved. Climbing not only cultivated a positive self-image but also bestowed upon me a newfound confidence.
Driven by my affinity for route setting and coaching, aspects of climbing that allowed me to express my neglected creative self, I found joy in a deeper connection with nature. This newfound appreciation instilled in me a sense of responsibility to protect and educate others about respecting the environment.
In the realm of coaching, the joy of sharing beta and assisting others became a cornerstone of my climbing experience. Teaching private lessons to teammates quickly expanded, and by the age of 16, I found myself dedicating up to five hours a week to coaching. Transitioning to an assistant coaching role at Gravity Vault's Chatham location intensified my focus on movement, technique, and mental skills.
An exceptional opportunity arose when I became involved with High Exposure, where I initiated a team from scratch. This marked the beginning of my coaching career and a transformative period in my personal growth. Beyond constructing a team, I forged a family of close-knit friends, treating each member as if they were my own children. My dedication to ensuring their optimal team experience became an all-encompassing commitment.
For a continuous four-year stretch, I committed myself to strenuous 60-hour work weeks, dedicated to route setting, coaching, and traveling for my team. Simultaneously, I immersed myself in personal training for major competitions like Nationals and World Cups. This dual focus on aiding others significantly transformed me into a more selfless individual, where the incessant pondering on ways to support others alleviated the pressure on my own climbing pursuits. Coaching became a profound catalyst for my evolution.
The coaching journey propelled me into an extensive exploration of all facets related to climbing, fitness, and mental performance. This commitment not only bolstered my mental and physical well-being but also enhanced my professional competence. Assuming the role of a head coach demanded the development of mature leadership skills, intertwining with qualities of fun-loving, empathetic, and compassionate guidance. Choosing to infuse elements of performance and humor, I strive to keep my athletes laughing, smiling, and deriving enjoyment from various facets of their training.
As the current head coach and founder of Paradigm Climbing (www.paradigmclimbing.com), concurrently crafting training plans for over 150 athletes nationwide (ranging from V3 to V15 climbers), I've forged a profound connection and appreciation for the climbing community in an entirely new dimension. The regular influx of success stories and expressions of gratitude fuels my desire to delve even deeper into the coaching realm.
Friends and The Climbing Community
Reflecting on my journey, the profound impact on my experiences has been attributed to my closest friends in climbing and my devoted team members. These individuals have not only boosted my confidence but have also made my experiences enjoyable and stress-free. They've taken me to the most breathtaking locations worldwide, imparting valuable life lessons as both a coach and a climber. My most enriching experiences invariably stem from shared moments outdoors or on trips with these cherished friends. My children have been instrumental in shaping me into a better individual in numerous ways. In the realm of coaching, success hinges on the cultivation of patience, trust, respect, and a profound connection with athletes. This emotional bond serves as a mental support system, enabling them to feel secure in their vulnerability, ask questions, fail, and ultimately grow. Infusing laughter, playfulness, and a touch of silliness into every practice not only keeps me youthful at heart but also serves as a powerful stress reliever. I've carried this same approach into my relationship with my fiancé, resulting in a deeply content and harmonious partnership.
Yet, my experiences with coaching youth teams have also imparted valuable lessons on toughness, accountability, and maintaining focus. Leading a youth team presents unique challenges compared to guiding a team of adults, a role I also fulfilled as the previous Head Coach of Reach Climbing and Fitness. Some young athletes aspire to significant goals but may also veer towards playful behavior, seek shortcuts, exhibit irregular attendance, get easily distracted, or prematurely give up. Over time, I've learned to communicate with, inspire, and encourage these individuals with compassion. Instead of starting interactions with sternness or dismissiveness, I approach them with a soft tone, a smile, and inspiration to give their best effort. Compassion and gentle reminders about their goals have proven more effective in guiding them toward success.
When it comes to mental preparation for competitions, the groundwork begins months ahead. Instilling the mindset of a winner is crucial, emphasizing goal pursuit, body training specific to competition demands, and consistently achieving success in training stimuli that mirror competition conditions. Key components of competition preparation for me include goal-specific programming, maximizing the quantity and quality of successes leading up to the event, and meticulously tracking both aspects for tangible evidence of improvement.
On the day of the competition, I rely on my training journal, videos of recent achievements, pump-up music, and a familiar warm-up routine to create a sense of continuity with successful training sessions. If challenges arise, I remind myself of the primary reasons for being there: to have fun, improve, and face personal challenges. Every setback becomes a learning opportunity, recorded in my journal and later integrated into my programming. Viewing poor performances as a study helps alleviate pressure, and I see the findings as gateways to future success.
You can find this original blog and others like it at https://www.hiddencrux.com/. Posted with permission.