Any movement to elevate rock climbing to a Vermont Principals’ Association-sanctioned college sport doesn’t seem to have much momentum.
“At this stage, I haven’t received any formal proposals,” VPA associate executive director Bob Johnson said when asked about the status of the sport.
The sport has definitely taken hold at some area schools, including Otter Valley.
The Otters practice and compete at the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center on Woodstock Avenue in Rutland.
They have elite climbers, including freshman Patrick Daly, who is highly regarded nationally for his performances in USA Climbing format competitions.
It all started for Daly at a young age as he watched his older brother Michael scale the walls of the Rutland Climbing Gym. It looked fun for Patrick. He knew it was something he wanted to pursue.
The first time he saw Michael climb the wall, Patrick could not have imagined where the sport would take him. He competed nationally in places like Bend, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Seniors on the Otter Valley Climbing Team include Luca Cifone, Lucas Klein and Gunnar Tinsman.
The juniors are Kelsey Adams, Keith Carrara, Katelyn Lee, Adia Polli and Morgan White.
Sawyer Tinsman is the only sophomore, with freshmen being Christina Carrara, Daly, Andrew Easter, Kaiden Lee, and Danika Polli.
There are also a few college climbers on the team – Mia Fox, Kathleen Pape, Lucia Carrara and Owen Harrison-Burvick.
West Rutland fans know Kyle and Drew Frankenberg for their action on the football pitch for the Golden Horde, but the home-schooled brothers are also members of the OV Climbing Team.
Otter Valley coach Andy McMillan considers his best climbers to be Daly, Klein, Sawyer Tinsman, Adia Polli and the Frankenberg siblings.
“With Otter Valley recognizing indoor climbing as an official sport, we adhere to the winter sports calendar and have not met or trained in the fall. That said, most of our climbers are active in other sports and certainly benefit from various forms of cross-training like mountain biking,” McMillan said.
McMillan considers Adia Polli her best female climber.
“She regularly achieves the highest women’s score in SIRCA competitions,” the coach said.
McMillan points out that while he has strong and experienced climbers, he is equally enthusiastic about his new climbers and helping them reach their potential.
“While there is no doubt that many strong climbers will return, there are also several new members to the team this year,” McMillan said. “With this, we are always working to improve the needs of each climber.
“I coach for each individual’s personal progression throughout the season more than anything else, and, if successful, to instill a passion for climbing as a lifelong sport so they can apply the problem-solving skills and the resilience that climbing demands wherever they find themselves, whether climbing for outdoor fun, meeting unexpected challenges that life often presents, or competing in the college level.
The Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center had two locations, the other being in Quechee. This meant that there were two divisions for school teams, the Rutland area and the Woodstock-Quechee divisions.
The Quechee facility closed, so teams now compete at the Rutland venue in a single division.
Climbing under the VPA umbrella seems like a long way off, but at Otter Valley, Rutland, Mill River and other area schools, that’s not stopping students from soaring to great heights.