Buff community making their way to the top

Alyssa Gonzales, Former Editor-in-Chief

The Virgil Henson Activities Center supplies the students of West Texas A&M University with many opportunities and options to exercise and get fit. Whether you want to test your basketball skills on the court, go for a swim in the pool, or make use of the various exercise machines, the opportunities are basically endless. However, there’s another activity at the VHAC that’s bringing exercise to new heights.

“Coming in there wasn’t much of a climbing community here so I’ve implemented a lot of different things here between the routes and setting the routes, helping bring people in and teaching them about how to climb and what climbing is,” said Terra Perez, Assistant Director of Rec Sports.

Perez runs the outdoors trips, clinics, rental center, and manages the climbing tower. She also teaches those involved with the rock climbing community as well as the VHAC staff as much about climbing as possible.

“Coming in and teaching people, watching them progress. Getting 5 feet off the ground and shaking to weeks or months later, flying up the wall…just watching that progress and passion develop is my favorite thing,” said Perez.

Those within the community typically practice more than once a week and help each other out as much as possible. Whether it be a new skill or technique, frequent climbers are always trying to improve their climbing methods.

“I’ve been climbing for 5 years now so I started climbing before I came to WT,” said Cam Kelly, sophomore, general studies major and an VHAC staff member. “It was already an interest of mine and this is the only place to climb around here.”

Kelly is from Southern California and talked about the lack of places there are to climb here in Texas. Kelly also spoke of his appreciation for the climbing tower at the AC as many universities don’t typically have one. WT also has a climbing club that students can join.

“We get together, we climb and we work on skill stuff,” said Rigo Baeza, a senior law and economics major and president of the club. “If we’re going to go to a competition it’s not like a typical sports competition, it’s more laid back. There are different kinds of competitions, some are local and some are through the USA Climbing Organization which is super competitive. But, we like to stay more laid back.”

Though the club isn’t as active, Baeza hopes to compete more and plan more trips as the community grows. There are other opportunities for climbers to go on trips with the WT Outdoors program. Baeza has been climbing for years and was the one who founded the club.

“I actually heard from my supervisor that they had a climbing club at her university when she was an undergrad and that was the real driving force behind it. It seemed like a really cool idea and our community was just starting to grow,” said Baeza. “Getting to see it come from nothing to something and seeing that spark and interest in other people is really cool.”

As far as students looking to try out the climbing tower out for the first time, they are encouraged to come by and practice. Many that are part of the climbing community are eager for it to grow as more show interest over time.

“In my undergrad, I was into climbing myself and I have been climbing for several years and when I came here it was something I wanted to bring because there wasn’t really this community,” said Perez. “I love the community that I had and I wanted to bring that for other here.”