Rock climbing taking hold at OV

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Categories: Climb

Any movement to elevate rock climbing to a varsity sport sanctioned by the Vermont Principals’ Association does not seem to have much momentum.

“At this point, I have received no formal proposal,” VPA Associate Executive Director Bob Johnson said when asked bout the sport’s status.

The sport has definitely taken hold at some area schools including Otter Valley.

The Otters practice and hold competitions at the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center on Woodstock Avenue in Rutland.

They boast some elite climbers including Patrick Daly, a freshman, who is highly regarded nationally for his performances in USA Climbing format competitions.

It all began for Daly at a young age while watching his older brother Michael scaling the walls at the Rutland climbing gym. It looked like fun to Patrick. He knew that it was something he wanted to pursue.

The first time that he watched Michael ascend the wall, Patrick could not have imaged where the sport would take him. He has been to national competitions in places like Bend, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Seniors on the Otter Valley rock climbing team include Luca Cifone, Lucas Klein and Gunnar Tinsman.

Juniors are Kelsey Adams, Keith Carrara, Katelyn Lee, Adia Polli and Morgan White.

Sawyer Tinsman is the lone sophomore with the freshmen being Christina Carrara, Daly, Andrew Easter, Kaiden Lee and Danika Polli.

There are also a few middle school climbers on the team — Mia Fox, Kathleen Pape, Lucia Carrara and Owen Harrison-Burvick.

West Rutland fans know Kyle and Drew Frankenberg from their action on the soccer field for the Golden Horde, but the home-schooled brothers are also members of the OV rock climbing team.

Otter Valley coach Andy McMillan regards his top climbers as Daly, Klein, Sawyer Tinsman, Adia Polli and the Frankenberg siblings.

“With Otter Valley recognizing Indoor Rock Climbing as an official sport, we adhere to the winter sports schedule and did not meet or train during the fall. That said, most of our climbers are active in other sports and certainly benefit from various forms of cross training such as mountain biking,” McMillan said.

McMillan regards Adia Polli as his top climber for the girls.

“She routinely nabs the top female score in SIRCA competitions,” the coach said.

McMillan emphasizes that while he has some strong, experienced climbers, he is just as excited about his new climbers and with helping them to reach their potential.

“Whereas there’s no doubt several strong returning climbers, there are also several new members with the team this year,” McMillan said. “With that, we are always working to improve upon the needs of each individual climber.

“I coach for each individual’s personal progression throughout the season more than anything else, and, if I am successful, to instill some passion for climbing as a lifelong sport so they can apply the problem solving skills and resiliency that climbing demands wherever they end up, whether climbing for fun outdoors, dealing with unexpected challenges that life often presents or competing at the collegiate level.”

The Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center did have two locations, the other being in Quechee. That meant there were two divisions for school teams, the Rutland region and the Woodstock-Quechee divisions.

The Quechee facility has closed so teams now compete at the Rutland location in a single division.

Rock climbing coming under the VPA umbrella appears to be a a ways away, but at Otter Valley, Rutland, Mill River and other area schools, that does not deter students from ascending to great heights.