‘The best, nerdiest sport’: Rock climbing team mixes adrenaline, logic, community

Baylor's rock climbing team can be found practicing in the McLane Student Life Center between 8 and 10 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Cal Logan | Reporter

Baylor has 35 different club sports, but one of the hardest to overlook is the rock climbing team.

If you’ve entered the McLane Student Life Center, you’ve definitely seen the 53-foot freestanding Rock Wall. And if you’ve been to the SLC between the hours of 8 and 10 p.m. on Monday or Wednesday, you’ve probably heard the rock climbing team jamming out to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift or seen them navigating the best way to approach a new route.

“This is a sport that suits every type of person,” Owasso, Okla., sophomore and team president Elijah Hall said. “You can find your niche in it no matter what.”

Hall said rock climbing is good for people who like to see gradual improvement.

“It’s definitely geared toward people with a goal-setting mindset,” Hall said. “You can see your progress every day.”

Another element Hall loves about the club and the sport is the people.

”I don’t think I’ve met a single climber who is not extremely welcoming and supportive,” Hall said.

Wylie junior and team events coordinator Gabriella Williams also loves the one-of-a-kind community.

”The climbing community in general is very different to other sports,” Williams said. “You’re not running down a track or kicking the ball into the goal; you’re solving a problem, and you’re watching all these other people try to solve the same problem.”

Williams said she likes the mental challenge of rock climbing.

“When you’re in a competition and you and everyone else [are] also trying to figure out as many problems as you can, it just scratches that part of the brain that craves logic puzzles, but there’s also adrenaline,” Williams said. “It’s the best, nerdiest sport out there.”

Williams said she wants those considering joining the team to know that they shouldn’t be anxious about competing against other schools.

”If you’re scared to do the competitions, don’t be scared,” Williams said. “It’s honestly really, really fun and a really rewarding experience.”

Southbury, Conn., senior and team co-captain Karis Sims said she found her home in the rock climbing team.

“It’s a really great place to find community,” Sims said. “I didn’t rush, so I feel like this is my version of that. It’s a really great place to meet other climbers and learn from people who have been climbing for longer than you.”

As an officer at the Rock, Sims said she enjoys helping newcomers learn the ropes.

“Honestly, it’s very easy to be an officer as long as you’re nice to the freshmen — especially welcoming newcomers who don’t know anything,” Sims said. “We kind of literally show them the ropes of how to do it.”

College Station junior and and team secretary Andrew Arthur’s journey to rock climbing stemmed from running.

“It started as something I just wanted to try,” Arthur said. “I had been a runner throughout high school, and rock climbing seemed to be an interesting and fun way to do upper body. … I got involved with the team my freshman year, and it has been a great community. We have really good climbers here that motivate me to do better.”

Andrew added that he enjoys taking part in the competitions.

“The competitions are for anybody,” Andrew said. “They’re just fun in general. You get to go somewhere and climb regardless of if you’re there to win it or for the experience.”

The rock climbing team is starting competitions after spring break, with some taking place at Texas A&M and others taking place in Austin.