The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Club scales new heights

Allied health freshman Madeleine Jenkyn, climbs the rockwall at the Student Rec Center.
Timothy Lai — THE BATTALION Allied health freshman Madeleine Jenkyn, climbs the rockwall at the Student Rec Center.

Those who walk into the Student Recreation Center are immediately faced with the monumental sight of a 44-foot vertical rock-climbing wall. Pockmarked with hand holds and strung with climbing rope, the wall is criss-crossed every day by student climbers.
Some of those climbers are a part of Craggies, Texas A&M’s competitive climbing club. The team was founded in 2004 and has since grown, winning more and more competitions across Texas. Darren Jones, nutritional sciences senior and Craggies social chair, said the organization has focused on growth in the past, and is now looking to secure competition titles.
“Our goal at the end of last year really was to grow,” Jones said. “We have almost doubled since then. Now we are pushing climbers to get them into our Collegiate Climbing Series.”
Most major Texas universities compete nationally at the Collegiate Climbing Series. The lineup typically includes Texas Tech, Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas.
The Craggies have doubled their numbers in the last year with an open-arms policy, said president and anthropology senior Renee Costello.
“It’s a really good way for beginners to get to know one another,” Costello said. “We have two groups — the beginners and then the advanced climbers who want to compete — so we try to provide an environment for both. So a new person who has never gone to the wall before can learn the ropes and meet other climbers and become part of the community.”
This open-arms approach has developed Texas A&M’s climbing community and drawn in newcomers who otherwise would not have known where to start. The team wants to continue this policy, but it also wants to excel in the national competitions.
One of the advanced climbers who joined the Craggies is Ryan Schmidt, a management information systems junior who began climbing at 11 years old. Schmidt placed first this year at a University of Houston meet and hopes to make nationals this year in San Diego.
“Being a part of this club is really important to me because it’s the community that I feel like I belong in,” Schmidt said. “It felt really natural to me to join an organization about climbing. It felt right to make it grow as much as it can.”
The team hopes to extend this growth by obtaining official status from the university. The Craggies raise their own funds, but as a university-sanctioned club would have the resources available to make the team more competitive nationally.
“Our goal is, so now that we have the people, how can we make the club official and provide the climbers with the resources they want?” Costello said.
The Craggies will head to Baylor this weekend to compete in the next Collegiate Climbing Series event. They hope the competition will be a strong lead-in to the rest of the season, especially for regionals at the end of March against a strong UT team.

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