"Team Thrashers" Takes Kids to Higher Levels in Rock Climbing

Few things are as humbling to an athletic adult as failing to reach the top of a tough wall at the rock-climbing gym -- then watching a 12-year-old do it without breaking a sweat.

And for the 12-year-old, that's just cool.

This happens all the time at one of our favorite haunts, the Phoenix Rock Gym in Tempe, and part of the reason is because of a group called Team Thrashers.

The team, based out of the Tempe gym, is made up of kids from preschool to high-school age who want to hone their climbing skills and explore their love of the outdoors. (Most team members are between 11 and 14 years old).

Think soccer, gymnastics, and wilderness training rolled into one.

Team photo.
Team photo.
Image: Team Thrashers

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Team Thrashers' head coach, Jeremy Lee Cox, tailors the team's training and events for budding climbers who enjoy competitive matches or simply challenging themselves for fun. The only requirement is a "will and a want to climb."

Cox and two other coaches encourage the kids to train hard in order to get the most out of climbing. Most participants come in to the gym three days a week, though classes are run five days a week for most of the year.

About 20 members of the team are preparing for an indoor-climbing regional competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on December 10, which is organized by USA Climbing.

Competing isn't a requirement, though, and Cox's team also focuses on outdoor adventure with bimonthly trips and summer camps to Flagstaff, Tucson, or awesome climbing locales like Joshua Tree in California and Hueco Tanks in El Paso, Texas. Team members routinely hit Valley bouldering hotspots like South Mountain's Pima Canyon or Queen Creek Canyon just north of Superior.

"We try to get to as many different types of rock as we can," Cox says.

Naturally, kids on the team also practice the technical aspects of rock climbing like tying knots, fixing secure anchors, leading, belaying and rappelling.

The cost is $100 to $125 a month, depending on what the kids want to do, and no long-term contract required. Rental gear is available for folks who don't yet have their own harnesses or rock shoes.


Climb on!

(If you want more info on Team Thrashers, e-mail Jeremy at coachsir@gmail.com)

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