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Is climbing the new soccer?

John GardnerVail, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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RIFLE – The Outdoor Education Program headed by Tim Carlin at Rifle High School presents students a unique opportunity to climb to the top of the class. One aspect that’s gotten off the ground with ease is the after-school Climbing Club program.”It’s such a positive sport,” Carlin said. “My objective was to give kids that don’t necessarily like to play typical team sports something that they can do.”The students started practice one evening in one of the school’s gymnasium by stretching and then doing what Carlin calls “laps.” The kids climb five times up and down a 25-foot makeshift climbing wall built by Carlin and other volunteers. Laps, meant to build endurance, are the climbing equivalent of suicide sprints .

Four years ago, Carlin started the Rifle Climbing Club, an after-school program in which students learn to rock climb.The unique aspect of climbing is that it’s an individual’s sport in a team environment, Carlin said.”This sport gives the sense of a team but no one spends time on the bench,” he said. “Everyone can be involved.”Senior Ross Bentzler said one reason he enjoys the sport so much is because it’s more laid back and all the kids are really helpful. “It’s cool to see all these kids helping each other out,” Bentzler said. “We’ll help each other with certain moves and stuff, it’s just a cool sport.”

The mental aspect that attracted freshman Courtney Steinwinder to climbing. “It’s kind of like problem solving and finding solutions,” she said. “It’s just a great sport, and you can go anywhere and do it.”The club competes against other schools on the Western Slope, in towns like Grand Junction or Crested Butte. . This is the first year for the Western Slope Climbing League, which Carlin also started. His next step is trying to get the state to recognize climbing as a school-sanctioned sport. He believes if that were to happen, other schools will follow in his handholds.Assistant coach Steve Fuller compared the club to soccer in the 1980s.



“Back then not all schools offered soccer programs,” he said. “But look at it now: what school doesn’t have a soccer team?”Currently, there isn’t a state recognized climbing team in the U.S. Carlin is aware of some eastern states that are trying to get there, but he’s hoping to be the first to the top. Meanwhile, Carlin is trying to raise funds to upgrade the school’s climbing wall. .”Mainly the wall would provide us a place at home to have a competition,” Carlin said. “That would be such a cool thing to be able to have a competition here in Rifle.”


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