In this undated photo, a Rutherford County child rock climbs at The Ascent in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
There is a new sport in town – competitive rock climbing.
And middle and high school students from around Rutherford County have risen to the challenge.
After the first three competitions in the fall of 2012, Central Magnet School came in first place, closely followed by the Home School Association. Providence Christian Academy came in third place.
Rock climbing is a unique competitive sport in that it is a puzzle, both mentally and physically.
“I get to take the natural urge to climb and lay out a particular route to follow up the wall, giving the climbers a chance to show their problem-solving skills,” explained Jeremy King, who sets up the wall for the competitions.
Teams quickly built a strong camaraderie and sense of pride and confidence, as they worked together to try to get each member of their team to the top of the five competition routes.
Because the sport is new to the area, coaches and competitors have faced a steep learning curve.
Tyler Carson, the climbing league coordinator, has been impressed with how they have handled it.
“The coaches have done a great job of learning the techniques and teaching them to their teams,” Carson said. “The climbers are constantly surprising me by how they absorb all the information and apply it to their climbing. It’s really cool to see these climbers go from no experience at all to climbing some pretty difficult routes in a matter of months.”
The Ascent opened the league to middle and high schools in the county last fall.
These teams are based at the gym, not at the school. Climbers don’t need a climbing club sponsored at their school to participate, all they need is at least five people interested in climbing competitively and one person willing to coordinate.
Participation is $55 per month per climber for a team of 5 or more, $50 per month per climber for a team of 10 or more, and $45 per month per climber for a team of 25 or more. Price includes unlimited use of climbing gym and training equipment, gear rental, practices and competitions once a month.
Teams practice and compete at The Ascent indoor climbing gym on Park Avenue. They will compete this semester beginning Saturday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
There are openings for more schools to join.
To find out more information about the rock climbing initiative, visit www,climbyourrock.com/clubs.