By Josh Hillman
Students are eager to live on the edge, and in that pursuit have joined the Springfield College Climbing Club. The Wellness and Recreation Center is home to a 29-foot, artificial rock-face where nearly 30 climbers have come to earn their calloused hands.
With wide eyes, climbers trace routes to the top of the wall, their necks sore from the upward glance. Dozens of multi-colored, plastic holds lead the way to the top, each one with its own distinct shape.
In past years, the wall has been a place where only a few climbed at a nearly religious level. The big attraction was the mile-high challenge where a shirt is rewarded to a climber only after completing 202 climbs in a semester.
On Monday, Sept. 26 the club set sail on it’s first practice in Springfield College history. 16 climbers dressed in harnesses and rubber shoes to celebration the birth of the new team.
Among these new faces is the welcoming smile of junior, Josh Musial. He was voted president of the club due to his passion for the sport and its participants, “The thing is, I really love teaching in all its various forms,” Musial said. “As the club president I don’t get to climb as much as I’d like, but I get the opportunity to coach others and share my passion, and that to me is worth it.”
The club is open to students of all different experience levels who want to bond over challenge, exercise, and the fear of heights. Sophomore member, Tayla Foulkrod, grabbed hold of the wall for the first time on Monday, “I have an immense fear of heights,” She said. “So I figured it was about time to get over it. And what better way to get over heights than rock climbing.”
Half way up the wall, Foulkrod decided to look down. Breathing heavily her arms began to shake, and her vision narrowed. Holds within inches of her seemed out of reach. Her sweaty hands lost friction against the coarse plastic rocks, and she fell, dangling from the rope.
“Everyone, including myself, was sort of nervous,” Foulkrod said. “Then we all encouraged each other to keep going. It was actually really cool to watch.” That was Foulkrod first encounter with what is called the climbing community. It’s a combination of down to earth humans and the positive vibes they bring to the wall.
At every wall, members of this community help each other solve climbing problems and improve on their abilities. There is no ego, and no aggressive sense of competition. Just a group of simple living individuals who enjoy testing the limits of gravity, and Springfield’s club is no exception.
With motivation from her peers, Foulkrod chalked up three more times before calling it a day, each time making it a little higher. She intends on coming back to shake hands with gravity in the near future, “I know that if I stick with it long enough I will be able to get there,” She said. “Its just a matter of getting over my own personal fear.”
Once everyone gets acquainted with the sport, team members will have the choice to compete against contending colleges. This is a huge step forward for Musial and his vision of the club.
“We need to get a hard number of how many people want to participate in competition this season,” he said. “Competition starts whenever there is legitimate interest in a level of climbing above recreational.”
So if you are in need of adventure or want to be adopted into a positive atmosphere, try you grip at the rock wall. Practice takes place at the Wellness and Recreation Center on Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Thursday’s from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., as well as Friday’s from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.