On March 22, 2023

Chester students win rock climbing state championship

By Victoria Gaither

Before rock climbing was made cool through Instagram and Facebook, Vermont climbers already had a footing in this now-popular sport.

“I have been climbing for a year now. I love the sport; it is awesome,” said Joshua Buckley, a Green Mountain Union High School senior from Chester.

Buckley is one of many students from around the state participating in the Vermont State High School Jr. High and High School Indoor Climbing Team State Championship. 

The event was held on Saturday, March 11, in Rutland at the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center. Green Mountain Union High School won the event. 

Steve Lulek, who started the event in 1999, said it has grown. 

“We started with two high schools, and we have eight high schools, six junior high schools, and seven elementary schools,” said Lulek, who owns Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center.

Lulek added that the sport builds confidence.

“Climbing is this creative mind-body experience where you get stronger and better balance, and then you also grow in confidence about who you are and what you can do,” he said.

Halyn McIntyre, the captain of her Burr and Burton Academy team, came to the competition from Manchester. 

McIntyre, who showed off her climbing skills, said climbing creates bonds because, “It’s a sport that requires a lot of trust and communication with other people. It’s great for building relationships.”

She also explained that the work that goes into training for climbing requires strength and dedication.

“Most teams climb year-round,” she said. “We climb in the winter, summer, and fall. We have a rigorous workout schedule. We are working out three times a week, and it’s mainly upper body workouts and balance.”

At the competition, you count the points that day for states; whoever gets the most points wins.

But rock climbing coach Jennifer Tinsman said each student-athlete cheers the others on in rock climbing.

“What is incredible about this sport is that each of these athletes is competing against each other and encouraging each other, and they just want everyone to do their best.”

Tinsman, a coach at Otter Valley Union Middle and High School in Brandon,said the climbing community is a supportive group of parents, teachers, coaches, students, and fans who love the sport.

For student-athlete Joshua Buckley, it’s about the feeling of climbing and accomplishment.

“I like it because there is a sense of achievement every time you get a good climb, and you are proud of yourself.”

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