Leaving high school and embarking on the collegiate path opens a whole new realm of possibilities for those who choose to do so. Many are away from home and thrown into an entirely new environment with new people and many opportunities to try new things. Maybe all of the college’s choices are overwhelming or exciting, and picking only one or two is hard. Or, perhaps you find yourself floating in the middle ground between feeling like a fish out of water or a kid in a candy shop. Did you know that USA Climbing has a collegiate division?
Rock climbing isn’t an NCAA Division I, II, or III collegiate sport, so anyone can try it! Even if your school doesn’t have an organized outdoor program or climbing club where students meet regularly to climb together, you can still choose to enter the world of Collegiate USA Climbing.
For those unfamiliar with USAC or USA Climbing, it is the national governing body of organized competition climbing in the United States. They offer youth competitions, professional competitions, and a Collegiate competition series. The great thing about the organization is that anyone can register to compete, whether they climb with a team or not, as long as they purchase a USAC competitor membership and pay the entry fee for the competitions.
Money isn’t falling from the sky when you’re in college, so we understand there needs to be a valuable reason to invest in trying USA Collegiate Climbing. Unlike the youth and elite USAC memberships, there is an intro Collegiate membership costing less than $40, which you can upgrade to a full Collegiate membership (you pay the difference in cost) if you decide later that you want to compete in Divisonals or Nationals. Financially, the Collegiate membership is the most affordable that USAC offers.
But money is still involved, so what will you gain from trying Collegiate USA Climbing? Each individual’s experience will have unique benefits, but here are the five best reasons that make the investment worthwhile.
Whether the community comes from training partners you meet at your own school participating in the collegiate climbing series, or fellow competitors, climbing fosters community. The common goal of trying to push yourself, decipher movements, and have fun makes strangers friends. Outside of your potential training partners, faces you see at one collegiate competition will likely surface again at another. The familiarity and camaraderie create a space you find yourself drawn to repeatedly.
If you invest in a USAC Collegiate membership, you’ll want to maximize the competition experiences. The best way to do that is to ensure sufficient preparation. This means planning and regularly carving time out of your days to practice. In the freedom and the endless hustle and bustle of college, inviting some routine and structure to your week is beneficial.
3. Challenge by Choice
Climbing is individual. You are fighting against your body and mind on the wall as to whether you can or want to keep going. And that’s fine! The Collegiate USA Climbing recognizes this and offers the opportunity to choose to climb in a recreational or advanced category at every competition.
By the time you reach college, you are upwards of 13 years of school. Some students know exactly where college will take them. Others are still trying to determine their motivations. Either way, burnout is inevitable, but having another non-academic area where you are motivated to push yourself, show up, and participate will keep you stimulated. A win in climbing or a feeling of accomplishment after feeling motivated to try hard can reflect back to other areas of your life where motivation was dwindling.
5. Strength (Mental and Physical)
Rock climbing is hard. Physically, it demands total body strength, stamina, and muscular power. But gaining strength and feeling strong in your own skin is empowering. Rock climbing will not make you egotistical, but it will make you confident and proud of yourself, translating into all other realms of your life.
Yet. mentally, it demands even more. You must decipher the best path to the top of the wall, fight through fatigue and protesting muscles, learn to adapt quickly, and come up with other ideas when one way of climbing up sends you falling back to the ground. The mental fortitude sculpted on the wall will carry over into your academics and daily activities.
There’s much to unpack and weigh before deciding if you’ll try collegiate USA climbing. Other college activities might be hard to pass up, but there is so much you stand to gain from climbing. You’ll grow mentally and physically stronger as a person as you navigate the challenge of scaling the rock wall, managing your time to fit in, training for the competitions, and finding friends and a welcoming community. Now is the time to try it! As the sport gains more traction, it may be among NCAA sports where earning a spot on the competition floor is hard. But right now, the collegiate series is designed to enable all collegiate climbers of all climbing levels to enjoy the experience.
If you’re still waiting to sign up to try, let us know what else we need to present to convince you down below. But if we’ve convinced you, let us know what you are most excited about!