Rock climbers making tracks, gearing up for spring events
December 13, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
A roster full of new faces has meshed into a force to be reckoned with this fall at the LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center's rock wall. Liberty University's rock climbing team has made consistent vertical strides while picking up teammates and building camaraderie and chemistry within the ranks.
"The climbing team this year has been extraordinary," Flames Assistant Coach Cory Messer said. "We wanted this semester and this total season between fall and spring to be a time where you look back and you see the growth that you've done physically, but also spiritually together."
"The team so far has been awesome," senior Jennifer Gonzalez added. "A lot of people are hyped about climbing and people show up to practice and we have a good time. Our competitions have been going great, mostly because the new climbers, while they're new, have done really well at competing. It seems like they're not really nervous about it. They just have a good time and then they place, so I think we're going to do well as a team."
Messer said the Flames and Lady Flames benefit from one of the best collegiate climbing walls in the country.
"We have an upper hand with the facility that Liberty University has created and it's really what sets apart our athletes, being able to train and to excel, versus other schools," he said. "While we might not have one or two athletes that stand above the crowd collectively as a team, we're much stronger than those across the East Coast and other universities."
The last two weeks of the semester were spent building up the student-athletes' strength and endurance, which the coaches hope will carry over into the spring season.
"We just got done with a really big cycle training that focused on different techniques in climbing and different strength areas," senior captain Connor Ellis said. "Next semester we'll get back at endurance training and power endurance."
"They can continue the strength program at their house or their local weightlifting gym and carry it through the winter break and through this offseason," Messer added. "They'll be able to continue to strengthen themselves as athletes and when they come back in the spring season, they'll hit the ground running."
Messer has high expectations for the 2020 season and beyond, and is looking forward to seeing as many climbers as possible qualify for the April 17-20 USA Climbing Collegiate National Championships.
"We're really excited about the spring semester because we've been able to use this fall semester as a foundation and we'll only be able to build off it and continue to progress to new heights into the spring season and spring competitions," Messer said. "As far as nationals go, we're excited to compete the best we can in the local and regional competitions to see how we place."