The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Freshman Climbs to New Heights

It was a typical father-daughter outing that landed freshman Grace Embrey on a rock climbing wall. Four years later, Embrey is a member of Team Texas competing at the regional, divisional and national levels. An employee from Exposure Indoor Rock Climbing, a facility of Summit Gyms in Carrollton, Texas, attempted to recruit the 11-year-old natural climber after seeing her climb for fun.

“I initially thought that they [the staff] were just trying to be encouraging, but they really saw that she did it fairly easily and much easier than most,” her father Chip Embrey said.

Team Texas is comprised of over 100 kids, 10 coaches and four practice facilities. Rock climbing is made up of two main seasons: bouldering in the fall and short and speed competitions in the spring. Bouldering and short competitions are both judged while speed competitions are based solely on time.

Grace has qualified for nationals in the past, although, she has never attended. Grace has achieved much success through dedication, practicing a minimum of five days a week.

Despite what the strenuous workout schedule may imply, competitive rock climbing takes more than a fit body. “It is at least 50 percent mental,” Grace said.

Weekend trips to different cliffs occur multiple times a year to practice outdoors. The Red River Gorge in Kentucky is home to many of Team Texas’s weekend trips and over 1,600 climbing locations. Grace’s highest climb was at a 150-foot cliff at the Red River Gorge. That is the equivalent of half way up the Statue of Liberty.

“In climbing you get scared a lot,” she said. “It helps with pushing yourself to do things.”

Fifth-grader Sarah Kate Ashton began her climbs outdoors. “She was climbing trees so high that I could no longer spot her safely. So I told her that I was gonna take her to a place called a climbing wall and let her have a ball,” John Ashton, father of Sarah Kate and Head of Upper School said. Rock climbing provided not only a safe environment to climb but also a place to grow as an individual. “I like that there is a new challenge every day,” Sarah Kate said.

Grace noted that rock climbing is about facing adversity. “Climbing is a more direct way of facing your fears,” she said.

See to check out Grace rock climbing.

– Austria Arnold

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