Rock climbing program preparing to scale to new heights
July 26, 2017 | Lynchburg, Va.
Club Sports Video Coordinator Gabe Henderson recently visited the LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center to talk with rock wall coordinator and Liberty University Rock Climbing Head Coach Elliot Gaunt. They reviewed the Club Sports program's first season and got a glimpse of what to expect this fall.
"The support that Club Sports gave us really opened the doors in a lot of different directions, so we were able to start off running," Gaunt said of the 2016-17 inaugural season. "We did a total of five competitions. We had some great results and we're excited to see them progress and get stronger as the program grows and continues to build on itself. We didn't go to (Capital) regionals or (USA Climbing) nationals because we were a first year program so we were trying to build that base, but we're looking up and excited to see what the next year has for us."
He said the men's and women's teams' rapid growth and ascension as a first-year program was a good problem to have, but it did pose some unique challenges. He now has a better handle on how to approach training individuals of different talent levels while focusing on developing the team concept.
Gaunt said rock climbing is both a very individual sport and also a unique team sport.
"Everybody has to go out there and individually perform while performing as a team," he said, "so training each person, you can't have them all do the same thing. Different people adapt different ways. I've learned how to do our training, maintaining them as athletes as well as students. It's hard to find a balance, but I think we came out on top. Their GPAs were exceptional this year, so not only did they perform on the wall, they performed in the classroom."
He said the team will continue to grow in numbers and in stature, with unlimited possibilities for advancement through the regional and national ranks.
"Students coming in as freshmen have reached out to us and the College For A Weekend (CFAW) events have opened their eyes to the program we have, so it's been neat to see other people seeking us out," Gaunt said. "Going into your first year as a program, you don't know what to expect. Now it gives us an idea of how to set the goals a little more realistically. We are up and coming as a collegiate competition scene right now. The recruitment side of things is slowly growing as the youth programs are starting to flourish, so we can actually start trying to pull from the youth ranks."