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Small town comp appreciation thread!
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lambone


Oct 1, 2006, 1:12 PM
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Small town comp appreciation thread!
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Dear Coaches, Competitors, and ABS/USAC Representatives,

Being a gym owner and team coach in a town of about 100k, and being about a 5 hour drive from the nearest major city, I have a really strong appreciation for ”small” gyms all over the country hosting their own ABS/USAC comps.

I use the terms, "small town" and "big city," in this post in order to generalize the climbing competition market throughout the country. I apologize if it seems too general.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good big city comp! City gyms in general have huge multi-million dollar facilities, a vast array of cool holds, a large pool of talented setters to draw from, which make for some amazing climbing terrain and quality problems. Plus their climbing teams are often top notch, and put out world class climbers led by world class coaches. Visiting these comps gives my team and my gym something to aspire to.

However there is something special about the feel of a local small town comp. The smaller crowds and local flavor really add a lot to the overall enjoyment, IMHO. Some of our (my team and I) favorite comps have been in the smallest towns in our region. They have been able to get in nearly twice as much climbing at a small comp. The kids seem to get together and bond more, the vibe is different, there is more encouragement and less serious competitive attitude, if you know what I mean.

From a business standpoint I think comps in small towns are harder to throw. Really the overhead, both time and $, to throw a comp is relatively about the same in a small gym vs. a big one (and I have been apart of organizing comps in both). You have org dues, setter budget, new hold budget, marketing, extra staffing, you need to basically close your gym on a Saturday…etc, etc. Plus a small gym in a small market usually can’t get away with charging as much as a big gym can. This is especially hard for a small gym owner to swallow if turnouts are low and the gross revenue doesn’t brake even.

But in my opinion it is worth it, because everyone in the outskirts should have the opportunity to go to a comp and challenge themselves, even if they can not afford a trek to a big city comp. I’d like to see our sport grow (of course), I’d like to see high school climbing teams, and comps every month in every region. If small gyms don’t support this it will never happen.

Most people (non-climbers and climbers) in my community have no idea what a climbing competition is. When the headline news is "Marge’s Cow got out of the pasture last night,” throwing a local comp sanctioned by a national organization like ABS/USAC has the opportunity to hit the media and educate the masses. I count on this to expand and build the climbing community in my small area.

We (small gym owners) also count on the big city teams to travel to our events if they can. It is really important for multiple reasons. When those world class competitors from the big city come to our small towns and throw down sick problems, people notice. Our regular members have all watched our own climbing team crank in our gym…they know what to expect from them. But when out-of-towners come in it really steps things up a notch. And the traveling teams provide much needed revenue.

Therefore I sincerely ask ABS/USAC coordinators and directors to help support the smaller comps. I also encourage coaches from the big cities to load up your kids and bring them out for our little comps, you may be surprised how much fun they have!

Give us the opportunity to contribute, and help us schedule our comps in a way that allows us to be successful from a participation standpoint. If there is a big city comp in our region held on the same day as our small town comp, it really puts the small gym at a disadvantage. Plus it denys the chance for the big city competitors to visit our small gyms and get a taste of the local flavor. I have heard coordinators and coaches favor less ABS/USAC comps on the schedule. The attitude being less is more/quality over quantity sort of thing. While this is a valid perspective it invariably means that small town gyms will be left out of the loop.

I hope this thread can lead to a positive discussion on the topic. And I hope ABS/USAC organization decision makers can see my perspective and continue to sanction more small local comps all throughout the country in the future! Thanks for all the hard work.

Best Regards,
Matt


jaybro


Oct 1, 2006, 1:27 PM
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Do you have costume climbing events during the Shakespear Festivel? It would make for some great photos!


lambone


Oct 1, 2006, 2:04 PM
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that's funny. keep in mind Shakespear Festival runs from around May-November. so should we be in costume all summer?


jaybro


Oct 1, 2006, 2:38 PM
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Hmm? longer season than I realized, maybe a dollar off in costume?
But think of the photo opps.
Not to mention the climb name opps;
"A pound of Flesh,"
"Lead on Mc Duff"
or, at Halloween,
'Toil and Trouble."


actually I worked at a smaller gym in Reno and you raise a good point.


gunksta15


Nov 6, 2006, 10:02 PM
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This is also coming from a small town comp. They are the best! we had one last year and everyone there was saying it was one of the best that they had been to all year. The only part that sucked we under rated all the problems and people who climb V7 where not touching our V4. It made us feel really strong and we got another one coming up Dec 2. Albany Indoor Rockgym. And also, climbing should not have coaches in my opinion everyone should climb together and improve as one team. Coaches make it sound like you want it to be really competitive, which i think climbing isn't. Comps in my view are just climbing sessions with all new routes with awesome people where if you do good u get free stuff.


lambone


Nov 13, 2006, 1:10 PM
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Re: [gunksta15] Small town comp appreciation thread! [In reply to]
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gunksta,

As a climbing coach I have to disagree with your position about coaches being bad for climbing comps.

Most of the climbers entering in the comps, at least in the PNW are kids and part of a climbing team at their local gym. How do you have a climbing team with out a coach?

Without the teams enetering kids into the gyms, the gyms could not throw comps. They provide a much needed source of revenue to support the cost of throwing a comp, which can be expensive.

You think climbing teams are bad? why? Kids love climbing together as a team, it builds strong relationships, they get alot more out of it then just climbing. Their coach helps them train and develop in a structured way. They help them get better quicker, and deal with the emotional issues related to sucess or failure. Most kids don't have the discipline to train properly for competetive climbing on their own, they need a program and a schedule.

Maybe most importantly a good coach can help a kid prevent injury from training too hard, or in the wrong way, like not warming up and not stretching. Kids can endure permanent damage to their growing bodies if they are not climbing carefully.

I do think it is important that coaches give their kids some space at the comps to climb for themselves. They shouldn't give a ton of beta to the kids. I try to let my kids figure routes out on their own, and I just give a pointer here and there. Mostly at the comps I just try to help them relax, focus, not get upset, and try the climbs that best suit their abilities.

Coaching young climbers is alot of fun, and harder then it looks. Try it!Tongue


(This post was edited by lambone on Nov 13, 2006, 1:11 PM)


jemco


Nov 15, 2006, 8:24 PM
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Re: [lambone] Small town comp appreciation thread! [In reply to]
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Matt- as a coach at a boarding school in a "small town" in western colorado (MUCH smaller than the smallness of Ashland) I appreciate your input. Ironically, we just returned from a small town comp in breckenridge and I was verbally abused by a competitor (and her mom although she was in college) because we "ruined the small comp" by bringing our team. I found it fascinating that these women were mad that I had brought 46 enthusiastic new climbers to a comp--they felt that we should "have our own comp" to which I told her we do and graciously invited her (and her mom) to come on out to our comp in three weeks. In the end, the event was tons of fun BECAUSE the place was small ( a rec center, not a commercial gym) and thus felt intimate, the organizers were completely psyched on the whole scene and the other competitors were extremely friendly. As a coach (who also climbed in the comp) I loved watching my students encourage each other, spot each other, and offer help and support to EVERYONE they met, not just their teammates. Thanks for the thread, I hope we get TONS of people at our little comp coming up (It is called the Sopris Showdown in early December at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, CO. Hope to see some new faces there!

jemco


lambone


Nov 15, 2006, 9:57 PM
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Re: [jemco] Small town comp appreciation thread! [In reply to]
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In reply to:
I found it fascinating that these women were mad that I had brought 46 enthusiastic new climbers to a comp--
jemco

wow, cool. that is a huge team! I bet the organizer of the comp was totaly psyched that you showed up with all those kids. parents might have been bummed that it was more crowded, but it's likely they just don't get it.

Comps in the PNW are allways crowded, and the good gyms have lots of judges to reduce the lines and designated spotters for safety.

I usually don't climb during the comps I attend. Mostly because my team has a bunch of new climbers who haven't done many comps. They need help focusing, and direction on which climbs are the best to try. Also they seem to do better when they know their spotter.

The parents always ask, "why aren't you climbing?"

And I'm like "duh, I'm here for your kids, not myself." I mostly just really enjoy the coaching aspect of competition climbing. I get just as psyched when one of my kids 'sends a cool problem as when I climb for myself.

Don't sweat the haters!
Cheers, good luck with your comp!
Matt


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